Imagine that, the church in Corinth having difficulties!
Clement began by reminding them of how well they started in the faith. He then recounted how some of them fell into jealousy, and that it was jealousy of others that led to the division that they were currently experiencing. Of course, the remedy to jealousy and division is repentance and obedience.
Clement described many examples from the Bible where jealousy became a problem and where obedience, humility and dedication to living within God's will as a way of encouraging these believers to hold fast to faith and ignore troublemakers.
Here are a couple of key quotes from the early section of Clement's letter:
- "My brothers, do let us have a little humility; let us forget our self assertion...and do what the Bible tells us instead" (ch. 13).
- "It is surely more right and reverent for us, my brothers, to obey God than to follow people whose insolent unruliness has made them the ringleaders of this odious rivalry" (ch. 14).
- "Christ belongs to the lowly of heart, and not to those who would exalt themselves over His flock" (ch. 16).
- In reference to the overall humility of Christ, Clement wrote, "If the Lord humbled Himself in this way, what ought we to do, who through Him have come under the yoke of His grace?" (ch. 16)
Jealousy seems to be at the root of many problems among believers. It is often jealousy at the attention received by others, at the positions attained, at the ways you are overlooked, that leads to competition and division. Humility is the key to overcoming jealousy, as we understand ourselves and others most clearly when we practice humility.
Clement offers the tools of repentance, humility and obedience as alternatives to jealousy and division. When are you most prone to jealousy or division, no matter how seemingly small or light? In those times, how can you repent, obey, and maintain dedication to living in God's will?