A Spiritual Appraisal

1 Corinthians 7:17–24

Posted by Ian Rush on July 23, 2023
A Spiritual Appraisal
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Main idea: Your life circumstances don’t affect your ability to faithfully serve and glorify God. Therefore, remain as you are.

  1. Value producing spiritual fruit
  2. Value the position redemption gives you
  • Automated Transcription
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    Good morning. Welcome to Faith Bible Church. Some of you come here a lot, but I'm sure there are some of you out there who are visiting us for the first time. We're glad that you're here with us this morning, I want to, I want to welcome you, personally, and just encourage you, as you're here this morning, we want to get to know you. We want to Yeah, we want to know where you're from, why you're here, and how we can serve you and be praying for you. So some of the ways we could do that is if you just meet people that you're sitting around, we've also got an information desk, outside the back door there. As you leave this room, you see it kind of out there on the right, where you can go and ask any questions that you need, maybe their spiritual needs that you have, you can go and speak to someone there and they can get you connected with the appropriate person. But please, don't be shy. We want to meet you guys this morning. And I'm just thankful that you're here. Worshiping with us this morning. There is a preliminary thing that I want to just get out of the way as we begin this morning, because we obviously want to be free from distractions when we come to God's word. And that is this, I have a robot finger. Okay, so we'll just get that out of the way now. I bent my finger. And now this is on it. That's it? If you want to know any more, then you can ask me after so now you don't have to wonder, why does he have a metal finger today? That's why I have one. Okay, there is. Alright. We'll get to our reading through our passage in a few minutes. But first, I thought it would be helpful just to set the context a little bit. Because it will really help us to understand what the passage is talking about this morning. I've entitled The message a spiritual appraisal. And just so you know, those who maybe aren't as regular here, there are notes sheets, maybe you picked one up on the way in, those have like the title, the passage, the main idea of the passage and the points and that kind of thing and some space to fill out. So you guys can use those as you go through, we'll be following that outline. So the message is entitled, a spiritual appraisal. Okay. So what's an appraisal? For those of you who have bought a house, or sold a house, you will hopefully be familiar with what an appraisal is. If you're not, then that might be problematic for you. An appraisal is usually to do with buying a house, that's when we most commonly hear it, but it doesn't just have to do with buying houses. And appraise was just giving something a fair valuation. So you want to know how much is something truly worth like, what's the market value of this thing, give me an accurate value of it. So for those of you who have bought a house before, you'll be familiar with that process, and hopefully thankful for it. Sometimes when you're looking at a house, there are certain things that really catch your eye about it that you really love. So there are certain features, maybe it's the location that you're really kind of drawn to. And it it gets your heart set on that house. But then what happens? The appraiser comes in, right? And what does the appraiser do? They come in, and sometimes they say, actually, you know, it's not worth what they want you to pay for it. So I'm going to advise that you don't pay what they're asking. And they'll say that because they've looked at the house, they've used their expertise, not just their hearts and their desires to say it's got big roof problems, or there's some kind of major structural issue here that you need to be aware of before you shell out all that money, or there's a ginormous crack in the foundation. Like they give you all that information, right. And they appraise and give you a true and fair value of the house. So in the passage that we'll be looking at today, and really the surrounding passages as well, both the ones that have led up in recent weeks, and the ones that will come after the Corinthians in the church had been valuing certain things in life and devaluing others, not necessarily objects like a house, but relationships, lifestyle choices, and different cultural expectations as well. So incomes pour the spiritual appraiser to give a fair value, a fair and accurate valuation of these things that the Corinthian believers are valuing. So we I think Like the Corinthian church, need to have our valuations regularly reset with Bible truth, to make sure that our goals, our priorities, our ways of life, are not being driven by worldly values, but by eternal ones that we find in Scripture. And that's what Paul's going to help us with this morning. It's helpful at this point, I think, to point out and be reminded of the Corinthian culture. So what was it like to be a person lived in Corinth? Okay, so remember, Corinth was in Greece, a Greek city, but culturally speaking, it was very influenced by the Romans. Some historians and commentators say that in the city itself, you'd actually think, like, I'm not in Greece, like how could I be in Greece, this is the most Roman city I've ever been in. So they were very, very influenced by the Roman culture. They worshipped a number of false gods, including Caesar, who, of course, was just a man, they will all about bettering their position above other people. And we've seen that, as we've worked our way so far through First Corinthians, and we'll continue to see it. They were all about self prominence. They were all about climbing the societal ladder, and climbing it, even if that meant while they were climbing, they were ripping other people off who were getting in their way. This type of thinking that was a part of the cultural context of Coron had crept into the church. Which is why in Chapters one through four, we hear that they wanted to be associated with the best Bible teacher. In chapter five, they did not address known sin. Then in chapter six, they were happy to defraud their brothers and sisters in Christ in the courts for their own gain. And then most recently, in chapter seven, Paul addressed their concern about changing their relationship status, because they thought it might improve their spirituality or usefulness within the church. The Corinthian cultural mindset, of personal spiritual success, even at the expense of others, had crept into the way the church was functioning. So Paul, was rightly concerned. So Paul's purpose is simply to remind them that the church behaves differently than the world. The title you'll remember of our first Corinthians series is marked by the gospel is up on the screen there you see that every week. And this title really identifies the theme that runs all the way through this letter. He's telling believers that the gospel when truly preached, truly believed and truly embraced changes us. It transforms us. It gives us different markings than the markings that we had as unbelievers. So with all that said, Please now stand for the reading of God's Word. And I will read to you first Corinthians seven, verses 17 to 24. Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his core already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision? Was anyone at the time of his core uncircumcised, let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. While you are bondservant when caught, do not be concerned about it. But if you get if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freed man of the Lord. Likewise, he who was free when cord is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price do not become bondservants of men. So brothers, in whatever condition each was called there, Let him remain With God, this is the word of the Lord.

    Let's pray together. Father, you're so gracious to deliver to us your word. And we're so thankful for this passage that gives us a plain understanding as to how we are to live in the various circumstances that you put us in. To help us to hear your message to us this morning. Help us to be attentive to it. Pray that your Holy Spirit would convict us of the various nuances in each of our individual lives as to how this applies to us. And that we would be responsive to the change that needs to happen, that brings you more glory, to pray all these things in Christ's name. Amen. Please do have a seat. The main idea of this passage is this. Your life circumstances do not affect your ability to faithfully serve and glorify God. Therefore, remain as you are, remain as you are. So the Holy Spirit here through the Apostle Paul is telling the Corinthian church and us that we both can and must serve God faithfully, in whatever situation he has placed us. So before we begin in our passage, I want to just highlight a good Bible reading habit for you. And this is something that's really apparent in this verse, maybe you in this passage, I mean, maybe you caught as we were going through, but it's this, okay, so when you're doing your Bible reading, always be on the lookout for words, phrases, or ideas that are repeated. Okay, so repetition. Often, what it means is that there's something important, the writer is trying to draw your attention to, okay, and the message that you're going to hear this morning from this passage is really built upon repetition. Maybe you track it through the eight verses that I read, but three of the verses, Paul tells the Corinthians, something along the lines of remain as you are, remain as you are. So as repetition is one of the keys to learning. Paul obviously has something crucial for us to learn in this passage. So let's give our attention to it. We're just going to break the passage down into two pieces. The first is verses 17 to 19. And point number one is value, producing spiritual fruit value producing spiritual fruit. Okay, so we begin in verse 17, and see that Paul says, I have a rule for every church, a church being an organized gathering of believers, that's what a church is. A church is believers that gather together in an organized way, according to scripture. Okay, so Paul has a rule for every single church. This rule is not one that is bound by culture. This is a rule that is cross cultural. So this isn't something he's only telling the Corinthians to do. Whether you are a 21st century American, or British person, or a first century Greco Roman, or anywhere in between or beyond. If you are a believer, this rule applies to you. So what is that rule? He says this, each person, each individual that makes up the gathering of the church has been assigned a particular life has been called to a certain life by God. Walk in that life, live that life. You don't need to improve or change your situation to be more spiritually valuable or useful to God. So Paul then provides an example from within the Corinthian church that I think we can then apply in our own setting. And the first example he provides is circumcision. Circumcision. Paul, here in verse 18, addresses the saved. We've seen the word called used in verse 17. The first Last time, the word call is used. And there he's using it to reference the circumstances of your life. Where has God put you? What kind of life do you have? What are the things you experience, day to day, the second time we see the word core, he's talking about a different call, was anyone at the time of his call? Here? It references God's effectual call in our lives, the time at which God saved us. The time at which the irresistible work of the Holy Spirit brought us to salvation in Christ. So he's saying, when you got saved, at the point at which you were saved, had you already been circumcised, He says, if that's the case, don't seek to undo it. Don't seek to undo it. Or he says at the point of your salvation, where you're uncircumcised, he says, Don't seek to become don't seek to become circumcised that the issue that I believe is at stake here, is not about circumcision, or uncircumcision. That's just the example that's manifesting itself in the Corinthian church. The issue that's at stake here is association. Association. I believe that the Corinthians believed the association with a certain group, or perhaps disassociation with another group, was to be decided desired, in order to be maybe better thought of within the church, maybe by people, maybe by God. They believed something like in order to be self satisfied with my own life, I need to disassociate from these people. And I need to associate with these people. We've already seen this, as I've already said, in their desire to be connected with Paul or a polis or other great Bible teachers. And this is where Paul, our spiritual appraiser steps in. He says in verse 19, neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision. But keeping the commandments of God. He tells them, what is value less. And he tells them what is of utmost value. Circumcision and uncircumcision are valueless. The implication therefore, is that they should not be desired, they should not be wanted, these should not be things Corinthian church that you should be striving after they count for nothing. This means they don't do anything for us spiritually. They don't affect our standing before God. I want to encourage you to just think a little bit more deeply about that for a moment. It's not really about circumcision, as I've said, or uncircumcision. It's about what they could gain through their association with a certain people, a different type of person thinking things like maybe if I were Jewish, I'd be given a more prominent position within the church, because people would think I had that same inheritance all the way back to Abraham, as the Jewish people do. I'll be more accepted by God, I'll be more important and impressive as a believer. Or maybe it's the other end of the spectrum. Now we know that the Jews, they've gotten tons of things wrong. In the past. They've gotten all kinds of things wrong. The Pharisees are a mess. The scribes are a mess. The Sadducees are a mess. We're free in Christ. So maybe I should disassociate from my Jewish heritage. Maybe I should free myself from that. So what Paul tells them here is you don't need to be striving for spiritual or position or prominence within the church based upon who or what you're associated with. Rather, what counts. What is of utmost value is keeping the commandments of God.

    This is not talking about the Old Covenant Mosaic Law. The Israel will is bound to, but the New Covenant law that the Holy Spirit had written upon the hearts of believers. The law that we should love the Lord our God, with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our minds, and all of our strength, that we love our neighbors as ourselves, that we seek to grow in producing the fruit of the Spirit and be decreasing in the deeds of the flesh that we read about in Galatians chapter five. So in a nutshell, I'd put it like this. Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church and us don't get caught up in the desires and ways of this world. Focus on figuring out what God has called you to in His Word, and how to apply that in the situation that you're in. I'm going to be divisive for a moment. Okay. Sorry, Brian. We're going to divide the church. Everybody ready? I mean, we're in First Corinthians. That's what it's all about. Right? Okay. Question. How many of you love monopoly?

    All right. Okay. Loud and Proud

    in the middle. Just one. Alright, how many of you hate monopoly? There's our division right there. Okay. I'm sure the hay is. You've all got reasons about like for why they probably come from your childhood. I'm sorry for bringing up monopoly. Okay. When you play Monopoly, which color do you always go for? Everybody's got a tactic? What is it? I'll tell you mine after you tell me yours. Which blue? Light blue. I'm all about the light blue. Red. Yeah. Green, green, super expensive. I think. When you're younger, you always go for like the dark blues, right? It doesn't take long to figure out if I buy dark blues. Nobody ever lands on them. They're way too expensive to buy houses and hotels. So I'm not going to buy the dark blues. I always go for the light blues, because you can. You can just buy tons of stuff on them. And people seem like they land on them a lot of the time. Anyway, monopoly. What's going on? I don't know. And monopoly. All of the players right when you play, are competing for the best properties, right? In order to win the game. That's the objective. This is not what the Christian life should be like. There is a little there's vibes of this in the Corinthian church. They're all like, looking for opportunities to one up one another and better the other people within the church. We're not trying to monopolize within the church, we're aiming to be faithful by growing as servant hearted sacrificing brothers and sisters in Christ. Right. That's what Paul's getting at here. So a few words of application before we move on to number two. Now, I think with my pastor or senses switched on the I'm safe in saying none of you, within faith Bible Church, are vying for prominence by associating as a circumcised Jew or an uncircumcised Gentile. My sense is telling me that that's not a problem within this congregation, maybe it is I don't know. But I don't think so. But I want to challenge you. Because I'm sure that there is something that you're trusting. There's some area of life that promises you a false spiritual prominence that you're chasing after. So think about that. Spend some time just assessing your own heart? What is that thing individually for you? The promise is you this this faux prominence within the church, pray to God sometimes it's difficult to assess that within your own heart. Pray to God and ask Him to reveal those things to you and help you address them. Ask a trusted brother or sister in Christ to help you with that, and do it with a humble spirit knowing that they might say something that you don't like. Who or What are you trying to associate with thinking it will give you a leg up with God or within the church? I think if we expand the scope of this command that God that the God through Paul has given in this passage to the surrounding chapter, perhaps it will be a little easier to see how it applies. Remember, in chapter seven, most of the time is spent talking about relationships, singleness and marriage related, but no To supply what he says here to those, and it will start to give you a little bit of an insight as to how might this practically apply in my life. So the beginning of the chapter might say something like this, you don't need to stop having sex with your spouse, to be more spiritual. You don't need to get married, to be more spiritually mature. You don't need to escape your marriage in order to serve God properly. And you don't need to have certain associations or positions to be valued by God. Remain as you are. This command rests in the belief that God is benevolent. He's omnipotent. And he's omniscient in His sovereignty. And all that means is, he is out for your best. He knows how to give it to you. He is able to give it to you. And he is giving it to you. Turning forward a couple of pages to First Corinthians 10, maybe just one page. Verse 13, I think outlines this really nicely and we'll get there soon. He says here, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. So the situation the life circumstance that you find yourself in, is an ordained position by God that he is using to grow, to help you depend upon him and depend upon his grace. Listen, as well, Hebrews chapter 12, verses 10. And 11 speaks similarly, for the disciplined us speaking of earthly fathers, for a short time, as it seemed best to them, but he God disciplines us for our good that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful, rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. So the situations that God places us in there, like a gymnasium, they're like a fitness center, where he's working us out spiritually to, to build us to be spiritually stronger. And the interesting paradox there is that the way we become stronger spiritually, is by becoming weaker. We depend less upon ourselves, and we look to him more, we look to Him increasingly, he's the one we need to abide in. Now, a second way of looking at it slightly different perspective is, don't let your position debilitate you. You might be sitting there thinking, Well, I'm not I'm not vying for prominence. I don't want to do any of those things. And you're thinking your association might have the opposite effect on you. And it might debilitate you, you might think something like, Well, I'm not like any of these other people at church, I'll be ineffective for God, I don't have any gifts or any skills. So I'm like, I'm not even going to try this isn't for me. That's not true. God has called each of us to our own unique circumstance, be faithful and obedient as a believer in that circumstance. And I want to encourage you as well, just before we move on, find someone to meet with, find a mentor, find someone to sit down and talk about life with and how to live in your particular circumstance faithfully. Sometimes what I think when we say from the front, go find a mentor. It sounds a little bit daunting, and it sounds maybe intense and like, well, what like, what's going to be involved in all this? Let me explain to you what, my own life, okay? I meet with what Takasaki every couple of weeks. And we talk about we just go and we talk about what's going on in life. And he from his later in life, more experience, more mature as a believer point of view, is able to speak wisdom into my life. And help me understand the things that I'm working through and how to respond in a faithful way that glorifies the Lord. So we just I just talked to him about what's going on in my marriage. And he asks me those questions what's going on with parenting? Like how's How's Ministry at the church, how's work life, how's the balance between work and family life, and we just talk about that stuff. And he gives me insight how's your prayer life, while you read it in the word like, that's all we mean when we're talking about mentor, find someone, a mature Christian brother or sister, who can be that for you, who can help you walk and live life faithfully. So let's move on to our second point where Paul repeats this command two more times, and provides us with a different example. So point number two is verses 20 to 24. value, the position redemption gives you the value the position redemption, gives you you see there in verse 20, he says, again, simply, you don't need to change your condition. You don't need to change your station in life, you don't need to change where you're at, to be faithful. His example this time is the example of slavery and freedom

    and having a master. Now, it's important, always, when we see slavery in the Bible, that this is a slavery of 2000 years ago, not a slavery of 150 200 years ago. Okay, so the context of slavery is completely different. It was different in early church times than it was 150 years ago, which is what we usually think of with this word slave. Often pause time, people actually opted to be slaves, because Masters would essentially take care of you, they'd feed you provide you somewhere to live with your family, they also oftentimes provide an opportunity for you to be trained in a certain trade to educate you all in exchange for work. They gave you some security, certainly this would have been some who were mean an abusive, but not most. So the key phrase here in verse 21, is, Do not be concerned about it. Maybe your Bible says, Don't let it trouble you. Don't let it cause you anxiety. In other words, he sang to the Corinthians, being a slave does not affect your ability to serve the Lord faithfully. Just be a god glorifying slave. Where the previous example, in verses 17 to 19 was about Association and how they fought thought that associating themselves with certain people might better their position, or give them more opportunity. This example is about advancement. If only I could move up the ladder, I will be more I will be thought of more highly the church, if only I can move up the ladder, I'll be more useful to God. And similar to the previous example, it's not really about being a slave or being a free person. It's about being concerned that one of these or the other makes you more or less valuable. This is why Paul can say in this verse, that it's okay for you to become free if you have the opportunity to be free, because it's not really about whether you're free or not. Change isn't the issue. But the motivation behind the change is the issue. Am I doing this because I think it changes my value. Then verse 22, he underpins all of this with some wonderful theology. For he who called for he who was called in the Lord as a bond servant is a free man of the Lord. Likewise here, who was free when called as a bondservant of Christ, you were bought with a price do not become bondservants of men. Believer our union with Christ is what gives us value. Not the position that we're in. Whether you are a slave or whether you are free or whatever position you are in. If you are a believer, you belong to Christ. You are united with Him fully. You have been bought with a price. What is that price? Remember the price that was paid on your behalf? The price that was paid for you if you are a believer, was the blood have the one true eternal God. That's some price, right? You already have all of the value that you need. There is nothing that you can do or not do, there is no one you can be associated with or disassociated with, that is going to make you more or less valuable in the eyes of God, more or less valuable within his kingdom. Christ already gives you supreme value through your union with Him. There's no greater value. God has paid the highest price for you. He also he already values you the most highly that he could possibly value you. Our union with Christ means that we are fully forgiven of our sin. As far as the east is from the west, that's how far he moves our transgression from us. Our union with Christ means we are God's children, and he is our Father. unceasingly. Are union with Christ means the Christ's righteousness is our righteousness. In the same way that God can God the Father considers his son righteous, He considers you righteous is astounding. That's your value. In the same way, our sinfulness is Christ's sinfulness. He has taken all sin upon himself and born the way the punishment on our behalf so that it is no more. Our union with Christ means everything that Jesus inherits, we also inherit everything. union with Christ means we have access to all the grace we need to live life faithfully for God. So poor concludes in verse 24. So brothers in whatever condition, each was called, Let him remain there with God. It'd be easy to just overlook that last repetition of the command. But poor add something here that we haven't yet seen in the previous two instances. There, Let him remain with God, with God, in whatever position, you find yourself, the one that God has sovereignly placed you in. You are with God, and God is with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Christ was left and forsaken by God on our behalf at the cross. So we will never be left or forsaken by him. Nothing will ever snatch you out of his hand. Nothing will ever separate us from him or from his love. So in what ways? Might you be tempted by the allure of advancement? What are you enslaved to? What is the thing in your life that's mastering you instead of you being mastered by Christ? Those are the questions for this point that is good to ask yourself and to pray to God to reveal to you. Maybe you struggle with one of the following. I'm sure every person in this room has at least one of these maybe both self worth, or others worth. Maybe you want to be more valuable in the eyes of other people. It's the kind of Keeping Up with the Joneses mentality. I want everybody to see how successful and good and do or maybe you're one of those that don't care about what other people think. You just want to feel good about yourself. You want to have a high self worth. Your value is bound up in the feelings of self worth. Culturally, I think it's easy to get bound up in both of these things. Because through all of the media access that we have, and submit ourselves to, we can always see what everybody else is doing and what everybody else has, including celebrities who have unlimited resources. And this leads us to be disconnect. And what we need to focus on is our Christ worth, the worth that we have because of what Christ has done on our behalf. And because of our union with Him.

    Your value is not found in any of these things. It's not found in subscribers likes. It's not found in success, or ability or salary. It's not found in location or house size. It's not found in house tidiness is not found in whether your your kids hair is done. When you show up on Sunday morning, it's not even found in whether your hair is done. When you show up a Church activity. Your value is not found in your political affiliation, in your job title, in the quantity or quality, or type of recreational activity that you're involved in. Your value is not found in where you go on vacation. It's not found in what your house is filled with. It's not found in being a homeschool, or a public school or a private school parents. Your value is not found in how nice your Bible notebook and pen are, what type of car you drive, how good your stuff is. All of this is valueless, it attains nothing for us spiritually, we have something much more valuable. Your value believer is found in Christ. Christ has set you free from needing to be mastered by any of these things. So don't let the master you. Let him master you and tell you how to do each of these things like vacation and buying stuff for His glory. He's a really, really good master. Again, God isn't saying you can't move house, he isn't saying you can't go for a promotion. He isn't saying you can't ask for a pay rise, or that you can't change jobs. Just think about the reason for your change. Don't do it. Because you think that by doing it, you're going to earn some kind of spiritual merit, or self centered prominence within the church. And just one final word of application before we wrap up. I think it's helpful to think this way. Consider yourself a missionary in the position that God has placed you in. You're a missionary, to a potentially unreached people group. We used to tell collegians about this when we were in college ministry a few years ago, you have access to students and teachers on that campus that I'm never gonna see or speak to. If you're not a collegian, you have access to people within your family, your friendship circle, your workplace, the place where you do your hobbies, your distant relatives, your neighbors, the I'm never going to have access to neither as Dan neither is Nathan. Neither is Brian. Neither is your growth group leader. You're the missionary in their life. So be content with where you're at. And consider it a missions opportunity to be faithful in each one of these positions. So on first read when you read first Corinthians seven, it seems a little bit random the passage that we've looked at today, because it's in the middle of a passage that talks about sex marriage, singleness, divorce, and next betrothal. And then he's like, Oh, by the way, circumcision and slavery. But it makes perfect sense. Paul's principle here relates to all of those areas, and it underpins them all. Remain as you are. Your value is found in the eternal truth that you have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and you belong to him. What an appraisal. That is, I trust you're more aware of what is valueless, and not building your life, not worth building your life around, compared to that which is of eternal value. And I encourage you to keep thinking about these things, and how they apply in your own life. Let's pray together. Father, again, we're so thankful for these wonderfully clear words. We're so thankful for the value that is intrinsic now in us because of what Christ has done on our behalf and because we united with Him for all eternity so The father may our our desire, our pursuit in life, be driven after the things that you're driven after. Not the things of this world, help these things to lay upon our hearts and be a fire that continues to burn within us. In Christ's name, Amen.

Ian Rush

Ian is the Youth Pastor of Faith Bible Church. He and his wife, Claire, have 5 kids and recently spent a few years serving in a small church in England.

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