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Friday, 27 April, 2018

1 Corinthians 3 : 1-23

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building” -1Cor.3:9

Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church admonishing their childishness in their behaviour.  He tries to prove that sectarianism is carnal.  A carnal person is not as the natural man as mentioned in 2:14, but a spiritually immature Christian, a spiritual infant.  Paul didn’t expect the Corinthians to be mature in Christ at the time of their conversion; whereas the basic teachings was given to them as the new converts. So he expected them to grow in their faith and doctrine.  They were justified when they accepted Jesus Christ, but they had to work out their salvation with the fear of God and knowledge of the Word of God so that they could move towards becoming sanctified.


An immature Christian obviously lacks many Christian traits, but no one should expect this condition till at a later stage.  In fact, Paul was surprised to see that Corinthians had not yet grown into spiritual maturity or become able to distinguish between good and evil (refer Heb. 5:14).  Paul exhorts in 1Cor.14:20 not to be children in their understanding of things but be mature in their thinking. We see the divisions among them as we read Vs.4 onwards “…. For when one says, “I am of Paul, and another I am of Apollos” are you not carnal?” 


As we read on … “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave each one?  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (V 5-8). This passage is self-explanatory for our own learning and application in life.


Paul had planted the church in Corinth; Apollos had watered it – had significantly ministered after Paul left.  But both men were only servants through whom God worked.  It is our responsibility to do our job no matter what the results, for God will reward us for our efforts.  God’s work involves many different individuals with variety of skills and talents.  There are no extraordinary people who deserve praise and honour for what they do; whereas there are team members who perform according to their election and calling combined with their God-given skills and talents.  Thus each person can become a useful member in God’s vineyard performing their own special role. Always remember not to seek praises that come from people as it is worthless, rather seek the approval/reward from God!


In fact, Paul wanted growing and maturing leaders in the church who were healthy, strong and able to lead the congregation, the people.  Here Paul compared the church as a field.  The goal is fruitfulness (Vs.5-9).  It doesn’t matter who planted or who watered; the point is, “Are the plants growing and producing fruits?”  What can we expect of the fruit?  The fruit includes the results of our work, the response/behavior of our people and the reflection/reward of our labor.


Paul says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1 Cor 13:11) The writer of Hebrews urges us to go on to maturity: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms…...” (Refer Hebrews 6:1-3). We are called to bear fruit and sometimes that involves pruning as Christ Jesus said in John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” 

 

Thought: “To me, growing into spiritual maturity is becoming less self-conscious and more God-conscious.”  - Mark Batterson

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