Summary: One of the greatest blessings is when God works through you. One of the greatest dangers is when God works through you. Learn how to avoid the penetrating gaze of the Lord and simply rejoice in His work through you.
What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever been close to? I remember once being near a log deck fire that was so hot that it was melting the asphalt under my feet. I’ve seen the effects of intense heat and fire reduce a full house to a pile of ashes and a chimney, with things melted in the yard like, oh, cars. But that’s nothing compared to the searing 15 million degrees Centigrade found in the core of the sun, so hot that hydrogen fuses into helium. But even that is nothing compared to the destructive powers of the gaze of Jesus Christ. Romans 14:10 speaks of something called “the judgment seat of Christ.” Different from the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20:11 , this one judges all that we as Christians have done. It isn’t salvation at stake here, but more like an audit, with the IRS burning away everything that was not done of an eternal nature.
That’s the setting for which Paul focuses on the behavior of those who would bring in false doctrine into the church. On the contrary, those that build on Jesus with Jesus can look forward to the “bema” seat as a time of rejoicing in what the Lord has done and receiving reward.
In the balance of chapter 3 we move from talking about the attitude of the members of the church, to the purpose of the worker. The first part of Chapter 3 is about not having a baby attitude, keeping the mold of the world that automatically wants to elevate man and put down others. The world runs on prestige and being served (“it’s all about me”). The kingdom of God runs on humility and serving others. The second part of the chapter focuses on how that service is supposed to be performed and gives us some great lessons if we want to be used by God.
Servants… (same word for deacon: errand runner). Servants had a higher place than slaves but were not anything important.
With a Role to Play… What is your assignment? That’s what’s important.
Given to us by the Lord. We need to be careful that what we do we didn’t assign to ourselves. The more mature we are the more we should be able to respond to orders, but while we are being trained it is usually enough to do what you feel the Lord calling you to, something you are good at (without being prideful) or that what you want to do. But pay attention as you grow for your role changing.
6 – 7
We are either planters or waterers – starters or encouragers.
My wife plants our garden. I help. Then it’s my job to set up the watering system to make sure that the plants don’t dry up or drown. Then we sit back and watch the plants grow, try to keep the slugs from eating them, and harvest the fruit when it comes on. But neither of us actually causes the beans or squash to appear, we simply supply an environment that encourages growth. It’s the same way with those of us who work in God’s vineyard. We share the gospel or help train disciples in the way of the Lord, but we do not cause them to grow, we merely supply a sound environment where growth can occur.
The problem is that when we see the growth we are so amazed that our human nature begins to lead us to believe we actually did it. We see this over and over in the church today just as it happened in Corinth. And it happens both on the worker side as well as the disciple.� The truth is…
We are not anything of ourselves
John 15:5-6 "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
Philippians 4:13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
God causes the growth: it’s the fruit that matters, not the planter or gardener
All workers of God are equal. That sounds rather odd, doesn’t it? Aren’t there some Christians that are better than others? Not in terms of doing God’s work. The standard isn’t how much you accomplish but how much you heard and obeyed the tasks God gives you. Billy Graham is not held to do your work, nor are you judged by whether you did his. That’s very freeing. We each bear our own burden.
Our reward comes from our own labor, not anyone else’s. Reward? Yes. The Bible talks about rewards and crowns that are given to us. In the book of the Revelation, the elders are seen throwing their crowns back down to the feet of the Lamb, and that’s appropriate. It’s really God doing it, but it is so cool that He allows us to be the channel for His work, and then He rewards us for doing it!