I need to be careful. I need to examine myself and not look at others as missing God’s goal. I need to avoid being a hypocrite. Jesus detests that. I know it is true. This is about me and not about others. For there to be any value, I have to assess myself.
But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. | 1 Corinthians 11:28–29
There was a problem among the early group of disciples in Corinth. It still continues among believers today.
As a result of the unfairness and gluttony surrounding communion, Paul says they were not really even eating the Messiah’s Supper. The people were not treating communion as a sacred ordinance instituted by Jesus.
Instead of reminding people of Jesus’ sacrifice, communion became a means of self-gratification, furthering the divisions among the Corinthian the disciples. After describing the situation and explaining what communion should be, Paul says that everyone ought to examine themselves.
If we are to participate in a worthy manner, we must examine our own hearts, judge our missing God’s goal (aka sins), and confess them to the Master. To come to the table with unconfessed sin in our lives is to be guilty of the Messiah’s body and blood, for it was sin that nailed Him to the cross. If we will not judge our own sins, then God will judge us and chasten us until we do confess and forsake our sins.
The Corinthians neglected to examine themselves, but they were experts at examining everybody else. When the church gathers together, we must be careful not to become “religious detectives” who watch others, but who fail to acknowledge our own sins. If we eat and drink in an unworthy manner, we eat and drink judgment (chastening) to ourselves, and that is nothing to take lightly.
Chastening is God’s loving way of dealing with His sons and daughters to encourage them to mature. It is not a judge condemning a criminal, but a loving Father punishing His disobedient (and perhaps stubborn) children. Chastening proves God’s love for us, and chastening can, if we cooperate, perfect God’s life in us.