“Unworthily”? What Does That Mean?

I’ve always found myself with more questions than answers…
So I invite my readers-all five of you-to help me find the answers.

The Bible Gateway devotional focused on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. It’s talking about proper conduct during the Lord’s Supper, but one part popped out at me:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. -1 Cor 11:27

The context of this passage is saying that a person should “examine himself” before they take the body and blood of Christ. If not, judgement will come. I get that these acts are sacred, but what I don’t understand is what makes someone unworthy of taking them?

For instance, what if you made a promise before God that was broken later. Would that make you unworthy?

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was getting a divorce. It wasn’t because his wife had been unfaithful (although she was) so much as that they hadn’t been happy for a very long time and simply couldn’t take it anymore. Even though he knew it would happen, he was still really torn up inside about the idea that he might have sinned against God by going through with the divorce. He, like me, believes that marriage is a sacred institution that should last a lifetime-“what God has joined, let no man put asunder.” His concern was that, by going through with the divorce, he was breaking his promise that he’d be with her “as long as [they] both shall live”. Even though he tried like hell to make things work but nothing helped, he felt that he needed to stay in the marriage because that what what he told God (and everyone in that church) he would do when he took his vows. Even when I told him that he technically had what Jesus said was the only acceptable reason for divorce (I was grasping for straws at this point), he was afraid that all of it meant that he lied and, as a result, had been taking communion (the body and the blood) unworthily the entire time.

But was he? That’s my question. Was he “breaking a promise” and, if so, would that make him unworthy?

In light of the verses I mentioned above, is divorce (no matter what the cause) something that makes one unworthy? That’s what the Catholic church thinks, which is why you’ll hear about a Catholic who divorces being denied the Eucharist. Does it matter if the person did all they could and it still didn’t work?

Does continuing to be affected by things in your past make you unworthy? For instance, a friend of mine’s father used to yell a lot when she was growing up. Twenty-something years later, she still gets scared when a man yells at her in anger. Does this mean she hasn’t forgiven her father? They have a decent relationship now.

Does telling “little white lies” make you unworthy? How about “big, black ones’?

Does gossiping make you unworthy?

Does having had sex outside of marriage make you unworthy, even if your spouse has forgiven you? What about premarital sex?

I’ve always felt guilty for thinking badly of people. Even if I there’s a reason to, I felt that this was a failure to love my neighbor as myself. Do these thoughts make me unworthy? After all, adultery and murder begin in the heart (Matt. 5:21-28).

Does greed make you unworthy? Wrath? Lust? Sloth (whatever that is)? Envy? Gluttony? Pride? Because if lust does, I’m screwed.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for indulging me. Like I said, I have a lot more questions than answers and would greatly appreciate insight from others. What do you think?

 


 

 

 

 

 

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About theprozacqueen

30s, female, married, Georgia US, very opinionated, open-minded mostly, too nice for my own good, Christian, fairly liberal, friendly. I have a pretty big family and several friends and in-laws that might as well be family. I don't have kids, but I have five cats who think they're kids. I have a silly (and sometimes off-color) sense of humor. I'm a Christian so I'll try not to be nasty or use bad language in my posts, but I'm not making any promises, View all posts by theprozacqueen

4 responses to ““Unworthily”? What Does That Mean?

  • C.J. Penn

    Hello. Great questions. Here’s my opinion: if any of the things you mentioned make someone unworthy to participate in communion, then we are all unworthy. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
    But sin cannot be a barrier in any way, because Jesus already paid the penalty for all sins. To set up sins as a hurdle is to ignore the sacrifice of Jesus, for as Paul said in Galatians: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)
    We are saved, and I believe made worthy, by grace, through our faith. Again, from Paul… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
    Like you, I don’t feel certain I know what Paul meant in 1 Cor 11:27. But this is what I believe: taking communion without having faith in Jesus is what makes someone unworthy. For without faith, communion is meaningless.
    Cheerio

    Like

  • learningtobebipolar

    God looks at our hearts. When we are looking at ourselves, or more correctly, Jesus, God allows us to change. As far as being unworthy I think that comes more for people who have not given their lives to God. I have lots of questions myself. And I really enjoyed this post. I look forward to more dialog in the future. As for forgiveness here’s my thoughts. We are forgiven by God when we repent (change our minds). We forgive each other because He forgave us. That doesn’t mean we are required in any way to allow people to continual hurt and use us. And the effects of someone else’s behavior are often lifelong. It doesn’t mean we can’t or haven’t forgiven the person that hurt us. It means our human brain and body doesn’t live on the same plane as our spirit. And things happen we often don’t have control over on this earth. And we have natural reactions as humans that differ from what our spirits reaction may be. Not sure any of that makes sense. Sometimes I go too deep or too outside the box too quickly. Be blessed!! Keep writing!!

    Like

    • theprozacqueen

      Thank you! I have so many posts I keep meaning to finish, so it’s a major lift to me when I can finally get something done that makes someone think.
      Thanks so much for the explanation about the body and spirit being on two different planes. To this day there are things I remember that come back to haunt me…every time they do I start to think I haven’t forgiven the person and worry if my sins then aren’t going to be forgiven…I feel like I failed. It really helps to remember that what we do in our bodies and our spirits aren’t necessarily the same thing.

      Anyway, let me know if you want to talk further! God Bless!

      Like

      • learningtobebipolar

        We all keep working and keep moving. It’s just sometimes harder for some of us. My husband and I say all the time “baby steps” and just because you may take a step(or 3) backwards. Doesn’t mean you aren’t headed in the right direction. And to me if where you are headed involves God you’ve already won the battle because God works in our lives even when we don’t realize it 🙂

        Like

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