Summary: Some in the Corinthian church were judging the gifts of believers and preachers. This answer takes off from Paul’s ninth answer about letting God be the judge of ministers.
Some in the Corinthian church had made the mistake of judging, boasting, and priding themselves in their superior gifts and achievements. They were judging the gifts of believers and preachers. They were usurping the authority of God alone to gift and to judge men. In reality, they were nothing more than a bunch of puffed up air bags. When this sort of thing happens in any church, division occurs. The fellowship and life of the church becomes threatened.
One of the answers is that we shouldn’t compare ministers. This answer takes off from Paul’s ninth answer about letting God be the judge of ministers. After all, He is the one who called them to carry out His ministry. Even though men may say things to disrupt a church fellowship or to degrade a minister just because they don’t care for him or her, it shouldn’t matter to the minister because the minister is simply following God’s call on their lives. But it still hurts and breaks hearts.
READ v. 6. The ministers Paul is referring to are himself and Apollos. What Paul had been saying was only an illustration for the Corinthians believers to apply to themselves. Paul creates two mind pictures to help the Corinthian believers see who he and Apollos were.
1. He tried to explain to them that they were mere servants of Christ. They were only the under-rowers, the slaves in the belly of the ship who serve the Lord and Master of the ship.
2. They were mere stewards, the slaves given the enormous responsibility to oversee the property of the Master of the estate. And because they were stewards and had been given this responsibility, they were expected to be faithful and were held accountable for their faithfulness.
The point is, Paul wasn’t writing to teach himself and Apollos who they were and what their calling was. Paul and Apollos knew who they were, and they knew their calling. Paul was writing to teach the Corinthians who their ministers were and how they were to be treated. There were two particular lessons he wanted them to learn:
1. Believers should stop comparing and judging their ministers, elevating them above what the Scriptures say. As we have learned before, some in the church were judging certain ministers to be better and more capable servants of God than others. They thought that they themselves were so spiritual that they could rank the servants of God.
2. Also, believers should stop bragging at the expense of another. A believer is especially fond of a certain preacher because that preacher had a great impact on them becoming a follower of Christ. They become partial to that minister because they have learned more from him than any other minister. However, a serious sin occurs when the believer begins to think that no other minister can preach and minister like the favored minister. That makes the person elevating a certain minister over another a prideful person.
Paul used the words “take pride” literally translated puffed up like an air bag. So the point to it all is that when someone acts that way, it’s nothing but hot air. It’s meaningless. It means nothing.
READ v. 7. First, God is the One who causes differences between men. Paul asks 3 questions but within these three basic questions lie several more detailed ones. Let’s allow these questions speak to each of us personally.
1. Who makes you different than anyone else?
What makes you think you have superior judgment to others?
What makes you think you have received enough spiritual growth and insight that you can judge God’s ministers?
What gives you the right to feel yo have received more than others because you sat under some minister?
What makes you think you are more spiritual than other believers?
Who is it that has made you spiritual?
2. What do you have that you did not receive?
What is your spiritual gift? Did you create it or was the gift given to by God?
If you are spiritually mature, did you earn the maturity, or did God by His grace grow you?
How did you become a part of God’s family—by your own efforts or by God’s grace?
What do you have that you didn’t receive? Life—a body—a mind—a spirit—the ability to think and work and play and live—breath? Did you receive it all as a gift from God?
3. Now, if you received it all, why are you boasting of being super-spiritual?
Why are you acting superior to other believers?
Why are you playing Lord as though you have the right to take God’s place and judge His ministers and people?
These are fairly pointed questions to drive home a point. Paul was telling them they had no right to play God and rank, and criticize, and judge the ministers.