1 Corinthians 3:3-7

In 1 Corinthians 3:3-7 Paul deals with the church about the evidence that is showing around their being a carnal Christian. It keeps them from hearing the truth of God’s Word and lesson for how they are to live. “And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.” The Corinthian Christians thought of themselves as spiritual, but their divisions show that they are in fact fleshly. How we act and live outweighs what we think and say. The problems they had in human relationships showed there was something wrong in their relationship with God. It was evidence of carnality, of a fleshly way of thinking and living.

Divisions, envy and strife in a body are not the only signs of fleshiness, but they are the ones most evident among the Corinthians. “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” Paul did not say that they were mere men (that is, not saved), only that they were behaving like mere men. Christians have a higher call than living like the rest of humanity! “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?” We might have thought that Paul would be more kind to his own “fan club.” Instead of letting their praise rain on him, Paul denounced those who were trying to stroke his ego.

Fee wrote “Spiritual people are to walk in the Spirit. If they do otherwise, they are “worldly” and are called upon to desist.  Remaining worldly is not one of the options.” Paul and Apollos were not the ones they believed on for salvation; they only brought Jesus to them. They are through whom you believed, not on whom you believed. “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.” People in the church were picking sides between men who were really nothing beyond a messenger when it came to their salvation. These believers were focused on the wrong thing.

Paul makes it clear that ministers of the gospel fill different roles and get varying results. God alone is the one who gets the work done, using man as an instrument and tool, but He alone makes things grow. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” When a farmer plants a seed, and waters it, he really does not make it grow. The miracle of life does that. All the farmer can do is provide the right environment for growth, and trust in the miracle of life. We do the same thing in ministering Jesus to other people. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Some people are frustrated because they want to water when God has called them to plant, or they want to plant when God has called them to water. Others are frustrated because they want to make growth happen, when only God can do that. Real fruitfulness in ministry happens when we are peacefully content with what God has called us to do.

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