Paul is still writing about how God has designed the human body. However, clearly Paul is thinking about Christians in their relationship with each other.
The word ‘member’ appears in many translations; here it means a part of the body. When one part suffers pain, the whole body suffers. When one part receives honour – for example, a runner for the speed of his legs – the whole person is happy.
That should be true in the lives of Christians, too. When someone becomes a Christian, there is great joy in heaven (Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10). Of course Christians on earth should share that person’s joy, too. God is doing wonderful things in the lives of his people. Christians have very many reasons to be joyful.
Christians share their troubles, too. Sympathy is a natural expression of a Christian’s love for someone who is suffering. However, kind thoughts achieve nothing without the right actions. Christians pray for people who suffer. They give and they work to help those people.
In the first years of the Christian church, Christians did even more than to share joys and troubles. Acts 2:43-47 records how the first Christians shared everything. They did not consider their possessions to be their own. Instead, they sold what they had in order to give it to poor people. They had generous attitudes and they showed real love to each other.
It was not possible for that arrangement to continue. After some time, the leaders of the church had to deal with troubles and arguments about people’s gifts (Acts 6:1-6). But the love that Christians show to each other must continue. The relationship between them makes that love essential.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.