Servant & Steward = S2

Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to consider Sosthenes, Timothy, and himself as servants of Christ. Most people did not long for servant positions, but Paul was glad to be a servant. Is it my priority to be a servant? Followers of Christ are not only servants, but they are also stewards {“manages property or other affair for someone else} of the mysteries of God (Romans 16:25-27;I Cor 2:1-10;4:1; Eph 1:8b-10; 3:1-10;Col 1:25-27; 2:2-3). Sense I am handling others property and affairs my most important character trait of a steward is trustworthy. I found it interesting that in Major Doug Crandall’s book Leadership Lessons From West Point he had a complete chapter devoted to “Trust: The Key to Combat Leadership”. How do I gain trust in a relationship? How can I lose trust?

Paul encourages the believers in Corinth to not waste their time judging him. The Lord will judge so there is no reason to pronounce judgement before the Lord comes. Our God who is full of light will bring disclosure. His light will manifest things hidden in darkness and his transparency will reveal the purposes of the heart. Only then will servants receive commendation from God. People may call into question things in my life illegitimately. There is no reason to throw up my arms in frustration. Relax if I am trustworthy God will know and reward me at the appropriate time. I can’t be consumed with worrying about what others think rather than being consumed by being a faithful steward of God. Now if I have legitimate things to bring into question that is a different story. Paul in this passage had been faithful and persistent in loving and leading the believers in Corinth and yet they openly rejected him on occasion.
Paul finally addresses in this passage boastfulness. None of the Corinthians are able to boast in themselves. They had nothing that was not given to them. Uh oh – everything that I have has been given either from parents, family, friends, colleagues, enemies {in some cases}, etc.

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The Body A Temple

In an effort to drive home the difference between the flesh and the Spirit Paul uses the analogy of ones body being the temple of the Holy Spirit. The flesh is preserved for the Spirit and when one tampers with it in an unholy manner then God does intervene. This analogy is pertinent historically because the Corinthians had temples woven into the fabric of their culture.
The Temple
Temple of the Imperial Cult
Archaic Temple
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Aphrodite

It would be rude and blasphemous to go inside the temples and destroy them. The city would be in an uproar for anyone to defy their gods. The temples were hallow locations to be entered reverently. Paul is suggesting that my temple is not a location with a building, rather my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit so take care of it to do work in the field by planting (Paul) or watering (Apollos). When the Spirit completes the work at that Day rewards will be prescribed. The work of the Spirit is vital for a thriving relationship with God since the Spirit comprehends the thoughts God (2:11) and interprets spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

This smart progressive culture in Corinth boasted in the wealth of knowledge. Paul warning is to not deceive myself. Do not overestimate the opinion of myself. My wisdom is fools gold in comparison to God. My witty craftiness will be caught by God because of His omniscience. Let me realize the futile thoughts of man and pursue Christ being unwilling to take pleasure in boasting in men. Who cares about Paul, Apollos, Cephas, this world, life, or death in Christ all are yours and Christ is God’s.

A Proper Foundation

The art of establishing Christ in a culture takes the skill of a master builder to lay a proper foundation. It is delicate to coherently depict the magnificence of Christ and His eternal work. Christ is the foundation and all that is built on my life or any other follower of Christ depends on a proper understanding of the person of Christ. Paul, as a planter, coherently revealed Christ to the Corinthians; that is he highlighted the power of the cross where Christ died. Paul explains that Christ’s unity overwhelms division. He elevates Christ’s importance by defining the depravity of humanity and their inability to boast in God’s presence. The depravity of man conjoined with the power of Christ is not a stable foundation. The foundation is Christ, because the condition of humanity would build an unhealthy foundation that God the Father would deem unacceptable. Though the foundation of Christ cannot be changed, I’m to be careful how I build on the foundation. Throughout life disciples of Christ build on the foundation through service. This is not salvation, rather it is a manifestation of Christ at work in me. Paul explains a DAY is coming where my work will be revealed by fire.

  • Gold will withstand fire
  • Silver will withstand fire
  • Precious stones will withstand fire
  • Wood will burn
  • Hay will burn
  • Straw will burn

If I build on the foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones I will receive a reward. However, if I build with wood, hay, and straw I will suffer loss though saved but only through fire.

What makes my work gold, silver, and precious stones?
What makes my work wood, hay, and straw?

I think Paul may have been suggesting that whoever is building divisions (Apollos, Paul, Cephas) on the recently laid foundation of Jesus Christ is building with wood, hay, and straw. They are building with the flesh and not the Spirit.

Judas & Baruch

Dorothy Sayers presents an amazing play in The Man Born To Be King. I am reading the part leading up to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Below I’ve provided a convo b/tween Judas Iscariot and Baruch following Jesus’ arrest.

Judas: Perhaps they will acquit him.
Baruch (sarcastically): Perhaps the cat will acquit the mouse!…(brutally) Here, what’s the matter with you? You wanted him to suffer didn’t you? Now he’s going to suffer. I hope you’re pleased. If you had any guts, you’d be suffering with him. Why aren’t you in court,  making a noble speech and clamoring to be martyred in the cause?…But talking’s one thing, suffering another…Going to Pilate, is he? That means the cross. Ever seen a man crucified? There’s nothing poetical about it, and it hurts Judas, it hurts…Now’s your moment to practice what you preach, Will you stand by your Messiah? Will you testify from the cross? Will you be eloquent from that pulpit about the value and blessedness of pain? Skewered up there in the broiling sun, like an owl on a barn door, with your joints cracking and your head on fire and your tongue like leather? Will you say from there what you said to me…?
Judas: Damn you be quiet!
Baruch: Can’t face it, eh? —He’s facing it. I know that quiet sort. He’ll walk up to death with his eyes open and his mouth shut. All you can do is to cringe and squeal…Yes! And how did Jesus get taken? Somebody squealed then, I fancy. Who was it? Who was it, Judas Iscariot?
Judas: Let me go!
Baruch: Bah! What filth!…Run, rat, run! You can’t run away from yourself.

Here is a clip from Dorothy Sayers’ The Man Born To Be King from the Twelfth Play “The King Comes To His Own”

Seed / Water / Growth

Paul invites the followers of Christ to meditate deeply on God via the Holy Spirit realizing that their natural flesh will not comprehend God’s greatness. A problem occurs though, the Corinthians were still walking as infants in the flesh. Although Paul had solid food to feed them that would add muscle and weight rather rapidly he was still feeding them infant milk just getting them the necessary nutrients. But how are we of flesh? Your jealousy and strife are indicators of the flesh in control. Constantly wanting to follow Paul or Apollos unable to comprehend their roles in Christ. I can be confident where jealousy and strife occur in my life I am acting in a human way.

Paul and Apollos were just servants / tools for God to guide Corinth into belief. Paul was a planter who roamed Corinth putting in seed, while Apollos watered the seed planted in Corinth. God combines the seed and the water to produce growth. In reality the planter and the one who waters are nothing and God is everything. The planter is constantly looking for new fields to plant more seeds and the one who waters comes to the field after the seeds have been placed in the ground and waters. They are cooperating as one to see the God of the universe bring to something what was nothing; a life united to Christ. Both are labor intensive and both will receive adequate wages. Paul and Apollos, fellow workers, are glad to be working in God’s field and God’s building.

As a follower of Christ and one who clings to the Bible I hope to walk spiritually in maturity rather than fleshly as an infant. I hope to understand that jealousy and strife are fleshly and hinder the work of God in a city, like Corinth and Winston Salem. As a servant of God in the field I hope that I can complement others labor realizing that both of our jobs are useless without an amazing God who stepped into this world to help humanity. How beautiful to work together in unity!

Describable

The reception of the gospel comes through the power of God revealed by the Holy Spirit. I am encouraged that Paul said the proclamation of the gospel is powerful while he was weak and trembling for the gospel needs not the wisdom and oratory of man. As a messenger of the gospel I must walk in the Spirit and allow the power of God through the gospel to go forth. Skillful presentation cannot substitute for the power of God through the gospel.

God is wisdom and he gladly imparts to those who know Jesus Christ and him crucified through the Spirit. The wisdom is mysterious to the American culture as well as to the Corinthian culture of the time. World leaders are confused by it just as Corinthian leaders were confounded by it. Unknown to leaders the wisdom of God was decreed before all ages. The failure to tap into the wisdom of God resulted in Christ being crucified. The lack of wisdom from God results in blindness to what God has prepared for those who love Him.

The Spirit of God reveals the great depths and majesty of God the Father. It’s important that the spirit of this world not have a foothold in my life, rather the Spirit of God will masterfully unite my thoughts and actions to those of my Heavenly Father. The Spirit of God is also one who helps to understand things freely given to us by God one of which is salvation. The Spirit allows me to marvel at this gargantuan subject of soteriology. The Spirit steps in to unravel the great mysteries of God equipping messengers to impart in words the greatness of God to those who are spiritual.

God thanks for revealing your great wisdom through the Spirit. May I be engaged in active participation yearning to understand what your Spirit is teaching about you. The Spirit is equipped to describe your thoughts, which are freely given as we meditate on you. Lord help me to fellowship with you well today.