Who is Better?
The ancient Roman culture was obsessed with honor. Competition for patronage or benefaction or attachment to things deemed “honorable" was pursued for the hopeful result that one would be held in high esteem by another.
Unfortunately, people in the church at this time were not immune to seeking honor for themselves. The church in Corinth provides the perfect example of brethren vying for higher honors against one another, which caused considerable divisions that Paul identifies and works to correct (1 Cor. 1.10; 11.18-19).
Rivalries were set in who was more closely attached to the “better" teacher (1 Cor 1.11-13; 3.5, 21-23); it manifested itself in Christians using the law courts to win honor and “damages" at the expense of other Christians (1 Cor. 6.1-8); spiritual gifts were used as a claim to status as well (1 Cor. 12-14).
It even led to the expression of status during the Lords Supper as the rich enjoyed their fine meals for themselves, while the poor were left with the basics (1 Cor. 11.20-21). In many respects these divisions reflect the age-old problem of “looking out for number one” rather than looking out for the interests of fellow believers; esteeming oneself rather than another.
We may not live in an honor culture today, but our minds can be rife with thinking, “I am better than others". Paul writes 1 Cor. to address this, and sought to change the way they have been viewing one another in their life in this one body of Christ and in this world. Let us listen to Paul's plea, and follow Christ’s example of regarding others before ourselves!