Paul was about 51 years old. He was slowly making his way from Athens to Corinth. His mind and body were on overload. The events and journeys were taking their toll and he was off balance and on the ropes.
On the first journey there had been the opposition in many cities. It had been a continual fight until he reached Derbe. Included in this section of his life was the near death experience of the stoning at Lystra.
Now he was headed toward Corinth with Athens in his rear view mirror. He reveals his thoughts in his writings. He was in despair. He was so low he actually despaired of life.
Paul was at his lowest point. Looming in front of him was his greatest challenge. Greater than the cities of Asia minor, greater even than Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.
Recently, he accepted the failed completion of a church in Philippi, then Thessolinica, then again in Berea, and finally the collaspe in Athens!
Somewhere along the dusty travelled road in AD 51, Paul decided I will preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and nothing else. Beaten and discouraged, Paul was not ready for what would happen in Corinth.
Corinth was the second largest city in the empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people. Only the capital, Rome was larger. The city was new, as it had been destroyed only 100 years before by the Romans and then rebuilt. It show cased modern architecture.
Corinth was only a few miles from a seaport so there were sailors who came to visit the temple that offered 1000 prostitutes as a form of worship to the Gods of Corinth. There were Roman officials, a large Jewish population, soldiers, orientals, and every strata of life.
Into this morass walked Paul at his lowest point. The greatest apostle at his worst, pitted against the greatest challenge of his day. The result is history!
In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world. The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.
The failures of Athens, Berea, Thessolinica, and Philippi, faded as Corinth unfolded.
At the end of his second missionary journey, Paul had fully recovered in every way. What was his secret?
While reading the books written to Corinth again recently I was struck by the big picture of chapter seven of the first letter. So often I have seen the mechanics of this chapter, marriage, virgins, widows, servants, free men, etc.
I realized in all this discussion there rested the secret of Paul’s life and success like an un-mined diamond.
He addressed people that were unhappily married, he addressed virgins, he addressed servants, he addressed free men, he addressed widows, he addressed circumcision.
In all of it he stressed for people to be content!
That was Paul’s secret, to be content! He weaves this thread into many of his other writings.
To the Philippians…be content, 4.11
To Timothy…with food and clothes…be content, 6.8, 6.6
To the Hebrews….be content…13.5
It was the balm for every running issue of life.
Servants, be content!
Free men, be content!
Unhappy married people, be content!
Widows, be content!
Whatever your calling, be content!
Maybe, just maybe, if you could forget your Lystras, your Bereas, your Athens, you might reach your Corinth when you least expect it!
Maybe, just maybe, your greatest season of life is waiting for you when you become content.
When the servant seethes in resentment because they are not free, when the unhappy marriage poisons your daily life, when the past disappointments over whelm you, reach out and pick up Paul’s secret of success!
Find contentment in your life and maybe just maybe, there is a Corinth waiting for you!
Maybe at your lowest, and life’s challenge at it’s most formidable, contentment will bring you your greatest moment!
Godliness with contentment is great gain!
Thanks for reading today!