Summary: We all ultimately rely upon God and need Him if we are to fulfill His will in our lives. This message deals with those priorities.
Cell #1— I Corinthians 4 is on page 872 of the Bible in your pew.
1. There are stories in history that really catch our attention, but sometimes they are more than interesting, they make important points that can also teach us significant lessons. There’s a story of two paddleboats that left Memphis about the same time, travelling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they travelled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail’s pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South. One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fuelled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but they arrived in New Orleans without the cargo they were hired to transport.
2. The Corinthians are a lot like the crew of the ship that burned it’s cargo. They got distracted by what really didn’t matter and ignored what really counted. It’s very easy to make the same mistake ourselves, to get really focused on things that don’t count while at the same time ignoring the things that do.
3. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 4 together.
1 So look at Apollos & me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of ex-plaining God’s mysteries.
2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.
3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human au-thority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.
4 My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me & decide.
5 So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light & will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
6 Dear brothers & sisters, I have used Apollos & myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures, you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another.
7 For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?
8 You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning al-ready, for then we would be reigning with you.
9 Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people & angels alike.
10 Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed.
11 Even now we go hungry & thirsty, & we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten & have no home.
12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.
13 We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment.
14 I’m not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children.
15 For even if you had 10,000 others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spir-itual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.
16 So I urge you to imitate me.
17 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved & faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again.
19 But I will come—& soon—if the Lord lets me, & then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power.