When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he wrote concerning two things; first, he wrote to encourage them in the Lord and for them to avoid the divisive spirit that was amongst them already; second, he wrote to answer questions that were troublesome to them. In the course of addressing these two main points Paul also addressed why it was that a divisive spirit existed among them. A divisive spirit exists because people accept the wisdom this world presents as enlightened and reject, as a result, God’s wisdom. The Bible uses terms like “flesh” or a “carnal spirit” to describe such a way of thinking.
When these two approaches meet (man’s wisdom opposed to God’s wisdom), the clash is great and a spirit of division pervades. This divisive spirit drove a wedge between the Christians in Corinth because of personalities; people wanted to be aligned with prominent preachers. Paul addressed this matter when he spoke about his own experiences in relation (or comparison) with those in Corinth (4:1; 2:1-5). Paul was judged by some in Corinth as being inadequate for the occasion he was called upon to engage (preaching the good news of God). He mentioned that as an apostle he was considered foolish, he was deprived of necessary things like food, water, and sufficient clothing, and that he had no real place to call home (4:9-13). Paul, however, was not going to be thrown off his God-ordained task of preaching and teaching; rather, he used his circumstances in order to serve God, the brethren, and even himself (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Let us make an application: Christians can be deprived of many things in this world. This does not mean—and this needs to be said and stressed—this does not mean that God is not blessing the “deprived ones,” when, in fact, He is and has already done so. The problems many face in this life are associated with believing that possessions are the outgrowth of God’s blessings. There is no necessary connection, none! Blessings from God are spiritual (Ephesians 1:3). Whatever physical blessings we are fortunate to possess and enjoy can be (and should be) used to glorify the Lord. Let us not think, however, that because we don’t have something that the Lord is not on our side. To think this way is discouragingly wrong!