We have come in our study of 1 Corinthians to a section that deals with Christian discipline. This is a hard subject for churches to face. And yet, as we come to such passages, we need to deal with them. We are faced with two problems in this matter of Christian discipline in our time. One is the disposition to take it too lightly, and the other is the disposition to overdo it, both of which unfortunately occur in some Christian circles. We need God's wisdom in each case.

Yesterday we saw that the Corinthian church seemed to be thriving - at least in worldly terms. But we find, given his tone, that Paul is being sarcastic. He is saying, "You already have what you want. You have become rich. You have become kings and you have done it all without us. Good for you! I wish that you really had become kings so that we might become kings with you."

In the second portion of chapter 4, beginning in verse 8, Paul makes an ironic contrast. He compares what the ministry has been like for him and Peter with what the Corinthians obviously thought it meant to succeed spiritually. What does he say about those in the Corinthian church? He says they are satisfied. "You have all you want. You have become kings." They are ripe, rich, and reigning. That is their status, and no doubt they were quite satisfied to be that way. That is what they wanted. They thought that was good.

In the passage that we are studying, Paul mentions a number of areas in which we are to be faithful. One is handling the mysteries of God rightly, the secret things of God. When Paul speaks of mysteries, he is not speaking of mysteries as the Greeks would have understood them. The Greeks had various religions that in certain forms have even been revived in modern days. They were called "mysteries" because the things the worshippers did and believed were hidden from everybody else. Paul, here, is not talking about mysteries in that sense. He is talking about that which the mind of man would never have imagined if left to itself, but which God has revealed in the Gospel.

Another word Paul uses here conveys the idea of stewardship. We read the translation "those entrusted," and it actually means "a steward." We get our word economy from the Greek word Paul uses. The steward was the one who managed the household economy; that is, he took care of the business for whoever owned the house. Paul was explaining that his responsibility included management - managing for Jesus Christ, his master, to whom he would one day have to give an accounting.