READ: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
THINK: People tend to follow rather than lead. In a spiritual sense that’s not all bad, since true discipleship involves following Christ and those He places in leadership. However, we must never become so attached to people that we distinguish ourselves from other believers based on our favorite leaders. A mark of spiritual immaturity is disunity that arises from idolizing people (pastors, leaders, musicians, celebrities, etc.). This takes honor from God, the only source of real spiritual growth and power. Division among Christians based on leadership loyalties and preferences is not only immature, it’s dangerous because of the destruction it causes in churches and individual lives. Anyone who stirs up this kind of trouble will find themselves in deeper trouble with God.
RESPOND: In what ways were the Corinthians spiritually immature and worldly? (See 3:1 and 3:3 notes.) What does it mean that Paul planted and Apollos watered (v. 6)? How does that relate to the various purposes God has for His followers? Why must we keep in mind that God brings spiritual growth (vv. 6-7)? What “one purpose” must all God’s people work together to fulfill? (See 3:8 note.) Why should you not get discouraged when you don’t see results from your spiritual investment in others’ lives? (See 3:8 note.) Why must you not become proud when you do see results? In what ways must you be careful in how you build on your relationship with Jesus (vv. 10-14)? How can one who is spiritually saved still “suffer loss” during this life and at his or her final judgment? (See 3:15 first note.) What does it mean that a person may “be saved, but only as one escaping through flames”? (See 3:15 second note.) Who or what is God’s temple? (See 3:16 note.) As a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, how must those who are part of the church conduct themselves? What kinds of things bring destruction to a church body? (See 3:17 note.) Why is this so serious, and what happens to a person who causes such destruction? Why do you think Paul brings this whole passage back to the issue of not bragging about those we regard as spiritual leaders (vv. 21-22)?
PRAY: Pray that you’ll never idolize people, but that you’ll always depend on God for your spiritual growth. Ask Him to keep you from discouragement when you don’t see results from your ministry and to keep you humble when you do.
ACT: Plant some spiritual seeds today by showing kindness and help to people and by looking for opportunities to talk about your faith in Christ. Do some spiritual watering by encouraging Christian friends or anyone whom you have led to Jesus in the past and by doing something to prepare for your church ministry role.