Chapter 9, What should I do after the Lord’s Supper?

If there is any energy spent on receiving the Lord’s Supper, it is usually expended before and during the Supper. That we would expect. Yet, there are still things that we can do after the Supper that can still help and encourage us.

In a normal meal, hunger creates a desire for food. As we sit for the meal, we find pleasure and delight as we eat. But what about “after” we eat? Don’t we feel satisfied because we ate? Don’t we derive benefits because of the nutrition we received? Are we not usually happier because we consumed a delicious meal? Yes, a good meal always satisfies us.

Something like that should happen to us after we have the Lord’s Supper. After the Supper, we should have been spiritually satisfied. Our souls should have been nourished and our love to Christ should have deepened. If we indeed have communed with Christ, we are much better for it.

We ought not to leave the table empty but filled. The One who serves the Table never disappoints. He promised to fellowship with us as revealed in His Word. So we must consider what happened and if indeed we received much from the Supper. If we neglect this, then are we not moving on with our lives with little concern for this matter?

The worst thing to do

I think many of us, myself included, give the least attention to this part of the Lord’s Supper. We prepare for the Supper and try to be as focused and serious as possible during the Supper. After that, we leave, at times mindful of what happens but quite often, we simply move to the next activity of our lives.

How would you respond if you shared something very important and personal with your friend who afterwards walked away and sat down in the living room to turn the TV on and acted like you never spoke her? You would wonder if she either took you seriously or if she understood what it was you shared. You expected your close friend to respond in a certain way that showed that they understood the seriousness of the conversation.

If we leave the Lord’s Supper and we don’t think about it or reflect on what happened, then what good was it? To walk away from the Supper without spiritually thinking about it and meditating on it with thanksgiving is to act as if we simply took medicine. When we take medicine, it doesn’t demand too much from us. We might not think about the medicine or even act as if we took it. Yet, it still affects us and does us good. But the Lord’s Supper is not like that at all. Its continued benefit assumes the exercise of faith.

The worst thing to do is to leave the Lord’s Supper without giving it a second thought. If we walk away with little reflection and spiritual meditation on what just happened, then we shortchange our spiritual growth. But what makes it worse is that we are by our actions saying that it was only good for that moment and not much more.

Paul’s example to the Corinthians

When we read 1 Cor. 11, we see Paul analyzing how the Corinthians acted at the Supper. He was reflecting on their behavior. They obviously did not do it so he does it for them. He is telling them how they behaved at the Supper and why it was they received judgment at the Supper.

We have noted already that the Corinthians behaved badly at the Supper (11:20ff.). He also exhorts them to change their behavior and to do the very opposite. First he said, “[W]hen you come together it is not for the better but for the worse …When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat.” (11:17, 20) He is rehearsing how they acted at the Supper and rebuking them. At the end, he exhorts them by saying, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another…so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.” (11:33-34)

This is our example. We should look back and rehearse how we acted. We should wonder if our coming together with the saints was for my good. Did the Supper benefit my soul? Did I really come to Christ with a hungry soul to receive Him? Though Paul can’t write to us, we can reflect back with God’s Word and reflect on how we behaved.

I didn’t get anything

There may be occasions when we (for various reasons) did not truly benefit from the Supper. How then should we respond? Should we simply say, “Well, maybe it’ll be better next time?” If we leave it that way, will we really profit from it? If we do not ask serious questions, then why do we expect it to be better next time? If I am not able to fit into a particular pair of pants today, does that mean if I simply try it on the next day that it will work? Of course not! Why couldn’t I fit in? Was it my pants? Do I need to lose weight?

My young son once came to me asking for a belt because the pair of pants he was trying to wear was way too big. There was considerable room in his pants and I simply could not understand why they were so big and why my wife had given him these to wear. He went to his mother for help only to find that he was trying on his older sister’s pants. He made a mistake and picked up the wrong pair of pants. He could have tried the pants on every day for a few years and they still would not have fit him. In finding out the problem, he was able to get the right pair of pants.

So we should not respond by thinking that it will be more beneficial to us next time simply because we come to it again later. We should ask ourselves serious questions. Was I in a carnal frame of mind? Was I thinking about the world? What were my desires during the Supper? How well did I prepare? Did I stay up too late the night before wasting time or filling it with vain and silly things? Are there sins I need to confess? Am I harboring bitterness?

Some Causes

Remember, in Corinth, there was a specific reason why judgment came to the Corinthians. There are some things we can do to see if indeed we may be the cause. This, of course, is only a guide and is not meant to be a complete list:

Lack of preparation — The Corinthians did not properly prepare themselves. They ate and drank and sought to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Their actions indicated that they did not prepare and remedy the problem before the Supper. So, ask yourself, did you adequately prepare? Did you review your life? What about your choices, words, actions, etc.?

Worldly or carnal mind — Sometimes believers have wasted all their previous efforts and let their hearts and minds wander through the Lord’s Day in the morning and especially during the worship service. Maybe the sermon did very little for you so you let your heart wander and you began to fix your mind on unworthy things. If this was the way you acted during the Supper, you should repent and call upon the Lord for such ways during the precious time.

Sin against someone — It is not uncommon to find that some in the service may actually be sitting there with bitterness in their hearts against someone in the church or somewhere else. They have repeatedly let the sun go down on their anger (Eph. 4:26, 27) and somehow assumed that all is well because they do not feel the heat of their anger or bitterness during the Supper. This is a dangerous situation and the Lord’s holding back His blessing may only be a step towards something more harsh. You should quickly and humbly repent and seek reconciliation.

Presumption or superstition — Our hearts can get used to “rituals” and assume that like always that if they just go through the motions, everything will work out well. Other people think of the Supper superstitiously and look to it as magic. Instead of exercising faith in Christ, they are looking to the elements to do something in them like medicine. Against these things, we must continually fight. For these sins we must beg the Lord’s forgiveness.

To these things, the Larger Catechism says, “if they see they have failed…they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.” Go to Christ at the Supper that much more.

Thomas Doolittle asked, “What if you find no good by the sacrament?” The Christian is to respond, “I must examine what was the cause, be humble for it, forsake the sin, pray to feel the benefit of it when I have come away, better prepare myself, and humbly wait upon God therein for another time.”

What if I can’t honestly find the problem?

There may be occasions (perhaps quite often) when we simply cannot pinpoint it. Let us not grow discouraged. If our conscience is clear as we honestly and humbly review the matter, then we must continually seek the Lord and more earnestly seek Him at the Supper. Christ has promised to commune with you — will you not go to Him with those truths and pray earnestly that He will benefit your soul at the Supper as He so promised?

Many good men have pointed out that the blessings of the Supper may not come during the Supper but sometime after because you may have mourned more and seriously yearned more after Christ hours after the Supper.

Success!

Our Larger Catechism (#175) says that we should seriously consider how we behaved and see if we had success. If we did, then we should “bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, [and] fulfill their vows…” Surely God ought to be blessed for the benefits we derived from the Supper. Did you thank Him? Did you bow before Him in gratitude?

Also, let that blessing be a serious occasion to resolve to please Him more and live in a manner that is more consistent with our calling. You should bless Him for the assurance, comfort, and the real sense of His love for you. Such hearty thanks can only glorify God and make your heart glad with purity.

Furthermore, your lifestyle, your speech, your desires, etc. should be different and better. The Lord has been good to your soul and it should become evident in your behavior.

No Pride

Spiritual comforts can easily turn into spiritual pride. We may have received much and our souls may rejoice. “We ought especially to watch against the workings of spiritual pride after” the Supper; “for our wicked and deceitful hearts are most ready to be lifted up with the great favors and honor here conferred upon us.”[1]

If Satan could not trip us up before and during the Supper, then he’ll meet us after. Did not Satan enter Judas’s heart after the Supper (John 13:27)? If he cannot cause us to forsake the Supper, then he will use the Supper to cause us to forsake Christ by tempting you to be proud. Never say with the Laodiceans, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” (Rev. 3:17) Don’t let your satisfied soul become the occasion for pride (cf. Deut. 8:11ff.). You still need your soul and any benefit you derived should be the occasion for thankfulness and humility.

Let us never trust our hearts. We came to Him dependent upon His grace and let us leave dependent upon Him. Let us not sin away His blessings by thinking more of ourselves than we ought. Surely, Christ’s grace came to us at the Supper on account of His tender mercy and grace. “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

Questions

1. What is the worse thing to do after taking the Lord’s Supper?

2. What does the Bible teach regarding examining yourself after the Supper?

3. What should you do if you did not profit from the Supper?

4. What are some of the causes for not profiting from the Supper?

5. What should you when you profit from the Supper?

6. Explain why you should be aware of spiritual pride after the Supper?


[1] J. Willison, A Sacramental Catechism (1720; repr., Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 268.

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