In his commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Interpretation series, Richard Hays points out Paul’s strategy in addressing the concerns of the Corinthian church in 1 Cor.
His summary and takeaway is insightful for those who teach, preach, or evangelize:
…it is striking that Paul takes up the Corinthians’ concerns [in 7:1-15:58] only after writing the lengthy discussion of chapters 1-6, in which he calls for unity, reasserts his authority, forcefully scolds the community, and calls them to new standards of holiness and community discipline. Plainly, he is not content to allow the Corinthians’ concerns to set the agenda. He addresses their questions only after carefully rebuilding the foundation upon which he believes answers must be based. This strategy allows him, as we shall see, to reframe the issues; he calls repeatedly for the Corinthian community to be re-socialized into a pattern shaped by the gospel of the cross and illuminated by the eschatological setting of the church between cross and the final day of the Lord. Teachers and preachers may find Paul’s example instructive: It is not necessarily wise to begin “where the people are.” The teacher who does so may find it impossible to move the students to any other place. Of course, the students’ questions must be engaged–as Paul’s example shows–but that engagement will be most fruitful if the groundwork of the gospel has first been laid out clearly.
Richard Hays, 1 Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching (Louisville: John Knox Press 1997), 111.
“And as for the apostolic epistles, what man who is skilled in literary interpretation would think them to be plain and easily understood, when even in them there are thousands of passages that provide, as if through a window, a narrow opening leading to multitudes of the deepest thoughts?”
–Origen,On First Principles
I love the first two reasons Piper gives as to why reading the Bible everyday(whether one feels like it or not) is notlegalism.
You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.
I actually founds this as I searched DG for “daily Bible reading” to see what Piper or some other might have to say to “stir me up” and rekindle my fire for reading the Word before breakfast each day. Why do I go to DG? Because a true friend tells you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear, and I can often count on the folks at DG for that, and Piper is simply the most motivating advocate of daily reading of the Word in personal and/or corporate devotions, but especially the former.
Let us continue the race of faith, slowly and steadily, always quick to listen and slow to speak, humbly and boldly.