1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,…
I. CHRISTIAN SALUTATION SHOULD BE COURTEOUS. Christianity teaches the truest politeness. It seeks to eradicate the harsh and the brutal. Life is rough enough without our making it rougher; Christianity tends to smooth the ruggedness of life and to make it more kindly. Courtesy in others towards ourselves we greatly value; we have to be towards others what we would have them to be towards us. Paul's courtesy is evidently of the right type - it is heart-courtesy. Surface courtesy is of little worth. Besides which it is a lie.
II. CHRISTIAN SALUTATION SHOULD BE GENEROUS. Paul's is not conceived in a carping spirit. There is a disposition to look upon the better side. The Corinthian Church afforded plenty of inducement to severity in an exordium. The apostle declined the temptation. He knew the way to the human heart, and, whilst reserving needed rebuke, he saluted his Corinthian friends (and enemies) in a manner certain to impress them as charitable and large-hearted. Whilst strictly adhering to truth, we must, if we would win men, manifest a spirit of generosity. We are sometimes so terribly afraid of saying too much, that we say altogether too little. We are severely anxious to be just, and become really unjust. Large heartedness is attractive, and wins; stinginess in sentiment is repulsive, and loses. Insistance upon the dark side often makes it darker. Men need encouragement as well as lecturing, and the exhibition of a noble, sympathetic, generous spirit is one of the most encouraging spectacles that men who are erring and imperfect can be called to look upon.
III. CHRISTIAN SALUTATION SHOULD BE CHEERFUL. Many burdens pressed upon the apostle's heart, but he nevertheless gives a cheery greeting to the Corinthians. To start with a groan is not propitious. We have sometimes cause for sorrow; we have always cause for joy if we are in Christ. To wave the black flag is to give but poor welcome. We are to rejoice in the Lord always, and in saluting our brethren we may well let this joy beam forth. Glumness and dismalness are not the chief of the Christian graces, though some seem to think they are. We are not looking forward to a funeral, but to a wedding - "the marriage supper of the Lamb." In Christian intercourse a little more brightness and gladness would not be out of place.
IV. CHRISTIAN SALUTATION MAY WELL BE EXTENSIVE. We are one family, and all the members have a claim upon our good wishes. Paul's greeting, is not too selective; his sympathies go out to all who call upon the Name of the Lord. Some are very fond of saluting the rich, and have no fondness for saluting the poor. One might suppose that a serious mistake had been made in the non-calling of many wise and mighty and noble, for some of God's people seem to care for no others. Paul sent an equal greeting to the Corinthian believers; his sentiment was unaffected by poverty, ignorance, feeble ness, or obscurity. Our love is apt to become cramped. The very best of us tend to love the lovely Christian, and to give the cold shoulder to the unlovely. We need more of the Spirit of the One who came to help the sinful and the unattractive, and who "loved the world."
V. CHRISTIAN SALUTATION SHOULD NOT BE EMPTY. Much salutation says nothing and means it. Paul's salutation is very ample and full of significance. He desires for the Corinthians the grace or favour of God and Christ - the Divine love to be manifested towards them. "In his favour is life" (Psalm 30:5). All blessing from God to be their portion. And peace as the result of this - the inward assurance of the friendship of God, that sin is pardoned, that "all things are yours." Under the terms of the apostolic greeting all good, whether providential or spiritual, temporal or eternal, is included.
VI. CHRISTIAN SALUTATION SHOULD SAVOUR MUCH OF CHRIST.
1. Here Christ is frequently named; but in no affected or canting way. It is a pity that when men talk of Christ in friendly intercourse they so often become intensely unnatural. The holy naturalness of Paul when talking of his Master is refreshing.
2. Here is much of the spirit of Christ. The salutation breathes forth love, tenderness, unselfishness, great heartedness, and intense sympathy. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,