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The Scriptorium

Servants, not Stars

All pointing to God. 1 Corinthians 3.5-10

1 Corinthians 3 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.36, 37.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.

Sing Psalm 119.36, 37.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
To Your holy testimonies, turn my heart, O gracious LORD.
Let me covet nothing worthless; my delight is in Your Word.
O revive me! O revive me, in Your way, most holy LORD!

Read 1 Corinthians 3.1-15; meditate on verses 5-10.

1. How did Paul say the Corinthians should regard him?

2. What was the result of his doing this?

Paul intended to reset the Corinthian’s thinking. He ended the last chapter by scolding them (indirectly) about thinking more like mere men than with the mind of Christ. He began this chapter by describing them as carnal and childish. If he’d been writing via an email subscription service, many would have “unsubscribed” at that point.

Happily, the Corinthians didn’t have the opportunity. This letter would have been read in its entirety in the various house churches in Corinth. Imagine the chagrin, the embarrassment, and perhaps even the resentment many of these believers would have experienced hearing Paul’s words.

But the tone changes here as Paul taught them how to think about the leaders God had sent to them—not as stars to be idolized but as servants leading them to God.

We need all the leaders God gives His churches. When they are faithful—serving as they should and not posing as a star—people are brought to saving faith, their hearts and minds are lifted Godward, and they begin to see themselves as occupying a field of service where much fruit can be harvested. They are one “building”—one temple, Paul will later insist (v. 9)

Paul and Apollos were not in competition; they were one (v. 8), each doing his own work faithfully—Paul sowing, and Apollos cultivating the seed (v. 6). Individually, they were “nothing” (v. 7), and happily so, for all they wanted to do was connect God’s people with Him.

The Corinthians needed to refocus on God and see themselves and their churches in His light, not their own. Oneness in the Body of Christ can only be sustained on such terms. We need to “take heed” (v. 10) how we try to build our churches—by setting our minds on the things that are above, where Christ is seated, and not on the things below (Col. 3.1-3).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Beyond the scold, there is a gold mine of information about working in our Personal Mission Field. As Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered…” (1 Cor. 3.6). Each of us is called to our specific space on earth to do our particular and even seemingly peculiar work. We have not been called to our neighbor’s field, or our best friend’s, or our relative’s, or our co-worker’s, or our fellow church member’s field—just our very own—and when everyone works properly, all the bases get covered in the work of the Kingdom.

And God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3.6, 7). The results are accomplished by Him, and Him alone. All the credit and glory go to Him. (Superstars need not apply.)

Gideon had to whittle down his army. God said so. How would he do this? All the volunteers got taken to the water to see how they would drink it. Now, from Vacation Bible School days, I never bought into the line the teachers were adamant to get across, that Gideon chose the bravest men. What? Those that either lapped water like a dog or slurped it up in their hand whilst on bended knee were great soldier material? No. I think God was just dividing up the group and maybe finding those that were trumpet players and ambidextrous—I mean, could you play a trumpet, hold a torch covered by a pitcher, and break the pitcher simultaneously? (Judg. 7.4-22). All to say that each person had important work to do, and God chose them to do it.

We may not be ambidextrous trumpet players, but we have equally challenging and exciting work to do. That God has specifically planned, prepared, and called us to (Eph. 2.10).

We only need to be careful that whatever we do is built and based upon Jesus.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3.11).

He is our life. He is our calling. He is our work.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Heb. 12.1-3).

“For we are God’s fellow workers…” (1 Cor. 3.9).

For reflection
1. How can you avoid looking at your pastor or favorite teacher as a “star”?

2. You have a Personal Mission Field. Have you identified it? Watch this brief video, download the worksheet, and get started doing your part as a servant in God’s Kingdom.

3. Where do you need to grow as a servant of the Lord?

Paul and Apollos had different functions, but everything they did was of God.
John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 8.5.

Pray Psalm 119.38-40.
Pray about the day ahead. Commit yourself to serve others in the Name of the Lord. Call on the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and to guide your steps.

Sing Psalm 119.38-40 .
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Set me firmly in Your statutes, for Your servant, LORD, am I.
Fearing You in sweet devotion, let me live until I die.
Let no dread, let no reproach obscure Your judgments from my eye.

For Your holy precepts, Jesus, my whole heart longs earnestly,
for Your judgments all are good; Your Word is a delight to me!
In Your righteousness revive me! For Your goodness I would see!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth needed revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today needs revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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