“What do you have that you did not receive?”

I expect we all can recall being chastised by our parents for our misdemeanours as a child. In my young days at home our punishment was the popular “spare the rod and spoil the child” philosophy. The sound of the wooden spoon being rattled in the kitchen drawer would be enough for the three of us to disappear outside. Other times we had to stand and take our punishment…ouch…. while still professing our innocence! I do recall, despite the hurt, my anger, my excuses, I realised, mostly, that my mother had done the right thing in disciplining me.

As God’s children, we often need correction as well. Our heavenly Father disciplines us so we can “share in his holiness” Heb 12:10b.

Paul is chastising the people of Corinth in this part of his letter. He tells them that they have arrogant attitudes because they have theological misunderstandings and are not following the scriptures. The only way they can grow in spiritual maturity is to humble themselves before God and others, as well as prepare themselves to suffer like the apostles.

To humble them, Paul asks them three questions, “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Three times Paul uses the word “receive” to remind the Corinthians that God is the one who gave them everything they have. Consequently, they should be grateful, not boastful. We need this same reminder at time. All we “have” is not ours but belongs to our Father and is a gift from him. May we be thankful and humbled by his love and generosity.

So, to help us avoid any further reprimand, Paul’s reminder to us is that the Scriptures are a blueprint for our conduct and behaviour as Christians.

May we read and remember his word, his promises, his gifts, his Son and be humbled and thankful that we are His.

To Him be the glory.



2 thoughts on ““What do you have that you did not receive?”

  1. Thank you Iris, this letter is full of reversals. They are arrogant, powerful and boast yet the cross is a blatant reversal and paradigm of servanthood, weakness and humility. Receiving is a key idea. Receivers are invited into a position of responding
    . Thanks for your reflections.

  2. I remember my dad and his ‘heavy hands’ quite well. What a fantastic model we have in God’s mercy in Jesus.

Comments are closed.