Updated: Jul 18, 2021
In chapter three Paul continues his line of reasoning that the believers at Corinth are immature. The reason is that if anyone focuses on the teacher of the gospel more than Jesus Christ that person is immature. Paul says.
“For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people?” 1 Corinthians 3:4 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/1co.3.4.hcsb )
Only the unspiritual would focus on the person delivering the messages instead of Jesus Christ. This is still a problem among many believers. They may not say that they are following a certain preacher or teacher, but we can often get a sense of their pride when they identify with the church that they attend. I am not saying that you can’t speak positively about your church, we all hopefully love the church that we are involved in. The difference when there is a sense of pride in the church or pastor that we sit under for instruction, showing that we are unspiritual. This may not be such a problem for small-town churches, but is a possibility, while it is more of a problem for big-city churches with larger-than-life ministries. Something that we need to be aware of and avoid so that we are not numbered among the unspiritual.
The church at Corinth was so immature and unspiritual that Paul was not able to teach them the solid food, but had to give them milk like babies (vs. 2). He identified them as immature and unspiritual because they were living like unbelievers (vs. 3). What a sad situation for followers of Jesus to be in. They have come to faith in Jesus but they have yet been willing to die to the world to live to Christ.
We see this type of problem in many churches that are unwilling to take a stand against the sins of the world. Falsely believing that God no longer cares about sin and only about spreading love. The sad thing is that we can not experience the love of God until we face our sinfulness and realize how much we deserve the wrath of God. Until then we will never be able to appreciate the depths of the grace and love of God.
In the next section of verses, Paul stresses that the worker is of little importance. We all have different parts to play in the ministry of the work of God
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/1co.3.6-7.hcsb )
It doesn’t matter what part a certain minister has in the carrying out of the spreading of the gospel or the discipleship process, they are nothing. Most pastors/ministers know this and don’t set out to make the ministry about themselves or think they add anything to God by their ministries.
The truth is that the church culture has made it possible for these ministers to fall into sin, by creating an atmosphere that cultivates pride in hearts of the leadership.
Unfortunately throughout history, certain leaders begin to make the ministry more about themselves, their power and leadership, than about Jesus. I don’t believe that they set out in the ministry to abuse their position or use their influence to fulfill their desires. Most will know that those ministers have fallen because of money, sex, and abuse of their power. Again I don’t think that they intended for those things to happen.
It seems that the bigger the ministry they have, the more temptation that comes. Some can handle it, others can not. Why is that? There are many possibilities. Perhaps they began to believe that they were something. That all of the great things they accomplished in their ministries were because of how good of a teacher or leader they are. That without them, the church or ministry wouldn’t be what it is. Becoming prideful and not focusing on their relationship with God. As ministers, we have to remember that we are not anything, we are nothing, and God is everything.
These fallen ministers have to take full responsibility for their failures, but may we encourage them to repent and not be their judges. The truth is that the church culture has made it possible for these ministers to fall into sin, by creating an atmosphere that cultivates pride in hearts of the leadership. We should respect ministers of the word of God, but in many of the churches today they are raised far above others. Creating a superstar type of personality. Such a thing has no place among the ministers of God, and the church as a whole should repent of creating such an atmosphere.
We are nothing, God is everything. May God help to keep us all humble and focused on God. Not on certain ministers of the Church. If you are a minister then not on yourself. You are nothing, God is everything.