Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Daily - 7/9/08

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

1 Brothers, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ.

2 I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now,

3 for you are still of the flesh. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving in an ordinary human way?

4 Whenever someone says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely human?

5 What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one.

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.

7 Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth.

8 The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor.

9 For we are God's co-workers; you are God's field, God's building.

Paul lays out a nice image of spiritual maturation. He considers a new Christian as an infant in Christ. The infancy has nothing to do with years – it describes the amount of spiritual growth that one might have. I firmly believe that many (if not most) of us remain spiritual infants well into the adult years. During that time, one is only able to grasp very basic things. But once one makes a true commitment to Christ (and begins putting the flesh to death), one is ready for deeper spiritual growth (ie, "solid food").

Note how Paul characterizes living in the flesh as "a normal human way." This is different from the other lists we’ve seen, which describe separating from a life of sin, debauchery, deceitful desires, [insert bad thing here], etc. In my opinion it is more than simply avoiding bad behavior. It is putting God first, and trying to let go of the cares of the world.

In verses 4-8, Paul addresses some division within the Church at Corinth, a disagreement on whether they should follow Paul or Apollos (for more on Apollos see Acts 18:25 and 19:2-6 ). Paul answers with an important thought – God causes spiritual growth. He is aided by individuals, but God causes the growth. When I think of my own spiritual development I can identify several folks in the role of Paul and Apollos, some of them going back 15 or more years. Each of them had a role to play, and in some cases the role was a very brief encounter that stuck in my mind for years.