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Three Abuses Of The Lord’s Supper

In giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.

–1 Corinthians 11:17

The Corinthians were coming together to observe the Lord’s Supper, the fellowship meal that was a part of their worship. But Paul warned that they were not taking the Lord’s Supper in the right manner. In 1 Corinthians 11, he outlined three abuses of the Lord’s Supper.

First of all, there was divisiveness at the Lord’s Supper. In verses 17-18, Paul said, “In giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.” Paul did not have a hard time believing there were divisions at the Lord’s Supper–after all, there were divisions in every other part of the church. They were divided according to the pastors they liked. They were divided according to philosophies. They were divided socioeconomically. And they brought that divisiveness when they came together for the fellowship meal.

Second, there was selfishness at the Lord’s Supper. Look at verses 20-21: “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry.” Apparently, the wealthier people in the congregation, the ones who were able to bring better food to the potluck supper, conspired with one another and said, “Let’s get to the supper early, and we can enjoy one another’s food.” So the wealthy people got there early and ate and mingled together. Then when everybody else showed up, the wealthier people said, “We are sorry, but we have run out of food. There is nothing left for you.” Paul said that was selfishness.

Finally, there was also drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper. Paul continued in verses 21-22, “One is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.” Remember, Paul was not just talking about the Eucharist; he was talking about the fellowship supper as a whole. And he was saying that at the fellowship supper, the Corinthians were engaged in gluttony. They were even getting drunk!

These Christians were coming to the table with drunkenness, with selfishness, and with divisiveness. And Paul said they could not be commended for this; no, they would be punished.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Sacred Supper” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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