Summary: Believers don’t need to pit one minister against another, or exalt one minister over another, or to even favor one minster over another, or especially not form a clique around a minister. This passage tonight offers Paul’s 6th answer to this division problem.
The Corinthian church was severely divided. The division came because the congregation was hung up on the former preachers of the church. I would hate to be called to a church like that. SEBC was a lot like that when I was called here. But in the course of about 9 months, that finally began to change.
The former preachers in the Corinthian church were Peter, Paul and Apollos. The ministers themselves were not involved. It was the carnal believers in the church who were causing the problem. Some liked Peter. Some liked Paul. Others liked Apollos.
The issue of which preacher was best and is best for a church is always a critical issue. Every believer has his favorite minister and that is usually the one that led them to the Lord or to a deeper commitment, or ministered to his family during a trying time, or who really spoke to his heart when he preached. A minister who becomes deeply involved in a person’s life is bound to mean a great deal to that person.
But believers don’t need to pit one minister against another, or exalt one minister over another, or to even favor one minster over another, or especially not form a clique around a minister. That has happened twice in the history of SEBC in its earlier years before my time. So it is a vital issue.
This is what had happened to the Corinthian church. It looks like they were trying to determine what kind of minister was best for them. The discussion had overflowed into the homes and meetings and cliques were forming. (Imagine that.)
This passage tonight offers Paul’s 6th answer to this division problem. Let’s get into the passage.
READ v. 5. Ministers of God are servants. Ministers are not lords over God’s flock. They are servants of God and the servants of God’s people. Ministers are only instruments of God. They aren’t the ones who believers are to praise. They aren’t the ones who believers are to be focused upon. God should be our only focus. Ministers didn’t create the gospel; God did. The minister doesn’t save the believer; God does.
Also, a minister can only help people as God gifts him. The gifts that God gives the minister are not natural abilities. They are spiritual gifts only given by God. The minister can only serve effectively when God gives him the gifts of His Spirit.
So the minister himself as a person has nothing in which the people can glory. His gifts are of God so the people are to focus their thoughts and praise upon God alone. But judging from Paul’s answer in verse 5, they were focusing on the men, Paul and Apollos.
READ vv. 6-7. Ministers are nothing in comparison to God. No minister has any cause for glory or praise or honor or recognition. So for a minister, there is no room for pride or self-satisfaction. There is no reason for a person to idolize or worship a minister. Respect the minister, yes; because the minister has an important task; maybe one of the most difficult on earth.
Think about any other profession. If a man had to speak at a conference before 100-200 of his peers, how much time would he take out of his weekly work schedule to prepare for his speaking engagement? What if he had to speak to that same group tow times—three times—all in the same week? How much time would he have to take out of his regular duties to prepare? And not only that. What if the professional had to look after, care for, and minister to every one of his professional peers of the conference:
- One got sick and went to the hospital.
- One of their family members was hospitalized.
- A serious problem arose.
- Counseling was needed
- A major committee met.
And on top of that, the professional had to manage the conference, its committees, schedules, finances, building programs, whatever came up. And still more. He had to constantly be out visiting and enlisting new people to attend and join the conference.
So we are to respect the minster of God, but not idolize him and follow him as though he is the founder of your faith.
Paul gives us a farming picture to show what our attitude toward ministers should be. One minster of God planted the seed of God’s Word in our lives. Another minister comes along and waters the seed. All the ministers that cross our paths contribute to our lives. They contribute either the seed of the gospel or the water of the Word. But note: it is God who gives the increase. No minister can make the seed grow.
Growth is not caused by man’s hands. Spiritual growth is activated by God’s energy, force and power alone. So Paul says in v. 7. READ.