Paul and Apollos were united partners in the ministry. Both Paul and Apollos were distressed that they had become objects of division.
Paul set the church straight in Corinth and in future generations.
— 1 Corinthians 4.1-2 – Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
Stewards were slaves who operated on behalf of their masters.
If you imagine a superintendent who oversees a large construction project for a corporation, you will have a good idea of the role of a steward in Paul’s day.
Both Paul and Apollos were stewards, who served Master Jesus to start and strengthen the church.
It is accurate for every church member to see themselves as a steward. Everyone has a role to play in God’s kingdom work.
Stewards are trustworthy because they do what the Master expects. Jesus was the ultimate steward of the Father’s will.
He said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).
This was Jesus’ constant refrain. Frank Laubach counted 47 references like this verse in John’s Gospel. Jesus was completely trustworthy, and for that, we can be eternally thankful for how his faithfulness brought grace to us.
Only God Can Judge Me
Long before the phrase, “Only God Can Judge Me,” appeared on t-shirts, Paul penned these words.
— 1 Corinthians 4.3-5 – But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.
I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.
Then each one will receive commendation from God.
It was the custom in Corinth to evaluate the merits of speakers in the forum. The church was influenced by Corinthian customs and did the same with Paul and Apollos.
Our opinion does not ultimately matter, because self-interest easily blinds us to our failings.
God knows what is hidden within our hearts, even when we are unable to see our intentions.
Good news! God’s grace is available for all humanity. His forgiveness is available for sinners who are blind to their faults.
Bad news! If we assume God’s role and pronounce criticism on others, we have overstepped the boundaries God has set for us.
Nothing Beyond What is Written
The members of the Corinthian church were not Paul’s enemies. He called them “brothers and sisters,” and wrote his letter to benefit their lives.
— 1 Corinthians 4.6-7 – I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?
Paul used six Old Testament verses to support the first section of his letter. These verses were what Paul meant by “Nothing beyond what is written.”
The themes of the Old Testament verses should not surprise us.
(1) A consistent theme of the Bible is God’s concern for widows, orphans, and immigrants. They represent the vulnerable “no-name” persons of the earth.
(2) Paul didn’t use the term, “the Jesus-kind-of-life,” but he implied it with his message of the cross.
Any teaching that deviates or downplays these two themes is faulty. Our attitudes and actions are required to match God’s priorities.
Rather than being “puffed up” in pride, we are to imitate the life of Christ and his care for all humans.
Paul dealt a blow to human pride with his assessment, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?”
Richard Hayes comments on this verse, “Some were born on third base, but act as they have just hit a triple.”
For all of us who were “born on third base,” Paul’s words are a reminder that there is no room for boasting.
Prayer for Ukraine
It is hard for me to see the devastation that is taking place in Ukraine. It was just a few weeks ago that the story was of Afghanistan, and before that the northern regions of Ethiopia.
Nearly one million Americans have died from COVID, and worldwide deaths are over six million.
Images of bombed buildings, broken bodies, starving humans, and grieving families can numb us into inaction.
As people who desire to live a Jesus-kind-of-life, let’s model our prayers after the Savior.
Matthew 6.9-13 is the account of the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer has been prayed for centuries, during all sorts of calamities. It is a great way to pray like Jesus.
Rudy Ross brings a love for Jesus and excellent scholarship to our YouTube videos. They can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.