Summary: The Christian life as a minister is that of an under rower rather than a lord over God's heritage
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 3:18-4:2 KJV
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:20 KJV
An old round goes like this:
Row row row your boat!
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream!
While rowing your boat down life's stream, you may feel like doing it drearily but remember life comes from your dream! So row diligently not negligently!
In 1 Corinthians 4:1 the word used for ministers is from the Greek word huperetes which occurs 20 times in the KJV and is a combination from hupo: under eretes: rower (Composite Word Study Dictionary)
Many pictures and images have been used to illustrate the Christian life of service but an under rower is a strikingly unique example.
The movie ‘Ben Hur’ comes to mind with the picture of rowing slaves. However even though Ben Hur is only historical fiction, it does paints a graphic picture of the under rower!
1 They were not in the limelight for self glory
Nobody noticed them, or admired them, or exalted them or praised them or promoted them. They were not there expecting accolades They were constantly below the scenes and occupied in doing one thing only, but that one thing was vital…keep the boat moving! All they were doing was rowing. Because they were below, they knew not where they were going. Therefore:
2 They had to trust the captain’s direction
The captain knew their destination and understood their purpose. He directed the ship and they depended on him to direct them safely to their goal. They must always bear in mind that:
3 They had to row to the captain’s beat
They therefore could not afford to be distracted. The beat kept them at the right pace to maintain the required speed to get them to their destination. They were required to follow one beat only the beat of their ship’s captain and in addition:
4 They had to row in unison
All oars went forward at the same time and all went backwards at the same time. No one was allowed to do their own thing. If they were ever to get to their destination they had to work together. It did not matter the background or upbringing of the person who sat next to you, they were all in it together for a common purpose towards a common goal and the efforts of all were required if that huge ship was ever going to even get moving.
In like manner as the ministers of God we need to recognize that
1. We are not in this ministry to make a name for ourselves but to exalt His Name!
The church has fallen prey to the world’s self exalting vice of celebrities. A “Christian Celebrity” is probably a most tragic oxymoron yet the church continues to beat itself in efforts to glorify and lift up men (and women) with flash and glitter but no saving power!
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Romans 11:36 KJV
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 KJV
In the Old Testament is found a strange incident:
And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:14-16 KJV