“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
Paul now asks pithy, pointed questions to puncture their bubble of spiritual pride.
For who makes you differ from another?
Paul attacks the Corinthian church’s spiritual pride by asking them who gave them the right to superior judgment over others. No one gave these people the right to judge others. The Greek answers the question – “no one.” They had no right to consider themselves superior to others. They claimed this so-called “right” but got it from themselves. Paul sarcastically punches a hole in their claim of superiority over others.
And what do you have that you did not receive?
All gifts and advantages come from God. They are special graces from God. We do not earn or deserve them. An understanding of the grace of God puts an end to pride.
1 Co 1:4-5, 4I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge…
Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
Three times Paul uses the word “receive.” The word carries the idea of something we get that we do not deserve. If everything we have is an act of grace from God that we did not earn or deserve, why do we brag as if we are the cause of our giftedness or power? We are not the source of what we possess. If we make that claim, then we ascribe arrogance to ourselves and diminish the gifts God gives us.
Grace orientation dissipates pride.
All of us are different. We have different degrees of handsomeness or beauty. We have different builds and physical prowess. We differ mentally. God loves variety. God loves dark people, and He loves white people. We did not manufacture our birth or the place of our birth. All of that is strictly of God’s grace. He donated whatever giftedness, ability, or beauty we possess.
Why should we brag about what we did nothing to get? All we can do about our gifts is to cultivate them, but the gift comes strictly from God. Grace always brings glory to God, not to us. The ego always orients a Christian away from grace. Pride always robs us of spiritual power. God will take us out of the game and put us into the stands devoid of effective ministry. There we sit critical of the referees, players, and coaches, all the while sitting with totally ineffective ministries.