Now Paul calls upon those partaking of the Lord's Supper to "judge themselves."
"31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world." (11:31-32)
"Judge" is diakrinō, that we saw in verse 30, "to evaluate by paying careful attention to, evaluate, judge." In other words, we are to examine our hearts, and then evaluate what we see. If the Lord reveals a problem, then we are to repent of it. That's what it means to "judge ourselves." If we fail to do this, God will do the judging and we will be "disciplined" (NIV, NRSV), "chastened" (KJV) as sons and daughters. The word is paideuō, from the realm of child rearing (from pais, "child"). It means, "to assist in the development of a person's ability to make appropriate choices, practice discipline," here, "to discipline with punishment." The writer of Hebrews quoted Proverbs 3:11-12 to his readers, using this word:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Hebrews 12:5-6)
When they go astray, God's children are "disciplined," not "condemned with the world." God is raising us as children. He is not going to cast us off and condemn us to hell when we sin. But, unless we get our act together, we're going to feel his wrath! Either discern your own sins and repent of them, or get ready for a "whipping in the woodshed," that's the choice we're given. This discipline can be severe if we resist it, resulting in sickness or even premature death.
"That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep." (11:30)
Practical Advice (11:33-34)Paul gives them this practical advice in conclusion:
"33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions." (11:27-34)
Instead of rushing to wolf down their food, they're to wait until everyone is present and is served something. To do else is to desecrate the Holy Meal of which they are partaking.
We have examined in some detail Paul's teaching on the Lord's Supper. But just to
understand it isn't enough. Now we are called to live our lives before God with thanksgiving for his sacrifice and humble appreciation for his forgiveness. The Lord's Supper is designed by our Lord to both nourish us and cause us to grow in him.
My prayer for both you and me is that Jesus' intention for his Supper might be fulfilled in us, in our congregations, and in our world -- now and until Jesus' return in glory.
"For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (11:26).