Paul’s first letter to the believers at Corinth began with thanksgiving as was his custom. He emphasized the superiority of Jesus and chided them because of their immaturity and foolish divisions.
They had done what immature believers always do, they had completely lost sight of God’s perspective on things in favor of personal favoritism. This grievous error is precisely why many of our churches have sects and clicks, one group follows this teacher, another this popular author, and another some famous personality from the past. Each division renders the local assembly ineffective and barren. Paul’s accusation was that they were behaving like children, not like mature adults.
The particular problem in the Corinthian church he addresses especially in chapter 3 was this one. Three groups were enamored to their favorite preacher. One group liked Paul more while another followed only Apollos, and the remaining group only wanted to follow Cephas.
Problem? Immature believers. Symptom? Divisions based on personal preferences. Paul addressed the situation in chapter 3.
“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” ( Corinthians 3:1-7)
The view from God’s perspective is humbling isn’t it? My importance and yours? NOTHING! This shocking truth reminds me that human effort only produces human results. To realize God kind of results we must have this mindset, compared to God, we are NOTHING!
What is the cure for this oft’ repeated error in our churches?
Keep Jesus at the center of our thinking, our talking, and our doing. We must follow Paul’s example of purposeful weakness, meakness, and utter dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:1-5)
Walk in the Spirit. What a humbling rebuke by the Apostle! “I can’t address you as spiritual people but as people of flesh only” (chapter 3:1) In Galatians 5:16 Paul gave the cure for immature squabbling and fighting.”Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
There are two ways every Christian can live, by the rule of the flesh or by the rule of the Spirit. We must ask ourselves continually, Is what I am about to say or do motivated by the Holy Spirit, approved by God, for the good of other believers, and does it honor Christ? If a word or action does not pass this test it is likely best to leave it unsaid or undone.
The Holy Spirit will ALWAYS prompt only those words and actions that honor and exalt Jesus Christ. Never, never, never does God lead one child to hurt another. Be kind, tender-hearted, speaking the truth in love to one another.
Get the Word of God into you. Usually the injunction is “get into the word”. Far too many folks read the Bible of duty and not to let it change them. We must come to the Word with open hearts, sincerely desiring to be taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-13) The Bible is food for a Christian, it is our job description, we must get it into us. As David of old we must “hide it in our hearts”.
Christ is all in all. Never let these truths far from your reach.
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”
Jesus is all we need to live godly lives in this present world. He is truly all we need. Let us not allow any rule but his in our hearts, in our families, and especially in our churches. Let us each live our lives so that we can say with certainty “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”