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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Friday, March 03 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

In our last study, we were able to learn about the various foundations for Christian living from various experiences of Paul through his letter to the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 3 from verse 1 through to verse 23. We were able to learn How Not to Live by considering the dangers of causing divisions and schism in the body and idolizing leaders. We also learn how to properly build on already solid foundations. We will continue our study today, titled Servants of Christ, by considering and learning further from Paul’s experiences in the fourth chapter of 1st Corinthians.

1. Servant Leadership [verse 1-2]
Paul in his opening of this chapter declared:
A. "Let a man regard us in this manner". Believers must constantly evaluate or consider the status of leadership. For the Kingdom of God leadership is servanthood/stewardship.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all”. [Mark 10:42-44]
B. He further expatiated on this point by stating how the leadership should be regarded – “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” It was the servant who managed the house/estate and gave an account to the owner (Matt. 25:14-46; Luke 16:1). This is the emphasis on responsibility to and trustworthiness of the gospel. God Himself will judge His stewards. What an awesome privilege and obligation to serve in the Kingdom.
C. “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful). Jesus used the concept of a faithful servant in Matt.24:45. Faithfulness in the Kingdom should be a lifestyle. We, as leaders and followers of Christ must be able to give proper accounts of all that have been committed to us. Remember, that your service should be done as unto the Lord and not man.

2. Handling Criticism, Lifestyles and Humility [verse 3-7]
A. It appears that Paul was under personal attack by a certain group at Corinth. He however gives advice to us as stewards and followers of Christ on how to handle such judgement. He declared that the ultimate and perfect judge is God. Why? Because He is the only one that has the perfect picture. He sees every hidden things of darkness and reveals the counsels of the hearts (motives). It is very hard to properly examine oneself spiritually. Often believers are too hard on themselves and too easy on others. Often we compare ourselves to other humans (2 Cor. 10:12-18). We must let God judge. He knows the heart and the circumstances. Believers are responsible for what they do understand, and also responsible for their attitudes and motives. Faithfulness will be rewarded and unfaithfulness will be judged. This however does not excuse us from taking criticisms into consideration when the situation arises as God may be the one orchestrating such event in order to bring us back in line. Paul said, “For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this”.
B. In verse 6, Paul is using himself and Apollos as examples for all leaders. He advises that no individual among you must become filled with his own importance and make comparisons to another’s detriment. Also, Believers must not arrogantly choose certain teachers over other teachers. They must judge proclaimers by the content of their message
(1John 4:1-6) and their lifestyle (Matt. 7:1), not by their presentation nor their personality nor by their personal preferences nor by the human leaders they claim as their own (i.e. denomination).
C. "What do you have that you did not receive". Paul is reminding these proud leaders that they were not the originators or discoverers of truth, but recipients of other's ministry.
Some leaders and their followers were acting as if they were the source of the truths they proclaimed. Another problem of Corinth was human boasting.

3. Fools for Christ Sake [verse 8-13]
A. This term "filled or full" is normally used of physical eating (Acts 27:38), but here it is a metaphor (Matt. 5:6) of spiritual pride. Verse 8 can be three questions or three statements. These are a series of sarcastic statements or questions that reveal the pride of the Corinthian factious leaders. They thought they had arrived. Paul wished they had, but it was not true; their actions revealed their maturity level (i.e. babies in Christ).

B. By using the phrase "we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men", Paul is referring to the difficult task of preaching the gospel. It is rewarding and refreshing to know however that God has used the foolish things of this world to confound the wise” (1 Cor.1:27). "We are fools for Christ's sake". God's wisdom is foolishness to the world; even sometimes to arrogant Christians. "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless" These verses reflect Paul's own experience. "we toil, working with our own hands” reflects the Jewish emphasis on the appropriateness of manual labour (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). This stresses the importance of hard work and taking responsibility instead of depending on others for goodwill. Paul and the other apostles led by example. We must consciously lead by example. I believe this will make working rewarding and encouraging.

C. "when we are reviled, we bless”. Paul is reflecting the teachings of Jesus (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 2:23). The term "reviled" is also included in the list of sins in 1 Cor. 5:11 and 6:10. This term refers to personal verbal abuse, while the term "slandered" or “defamed” means public defamation (2 Cor. 6:8). Paul experienced verbal abuse from many false teachers, but it was the church at Corinth that must have wounded him the most. A group of people whom he personally led to Christ became his most vocal slanderers. Jesus Christ experienced same ridicule and we will at some point in our walk with the Lord experience same. We must however face this with the right attitude whenever we do.

In Conclusion
Important learning points drawn from the experiences of Paul in Corinth. Focus here is on leading by examples while learning and growing through the pains that accompany this tedious but rewarding experience. We must always be mindful that we are first stewards and that we will all give account of our stewardship before the one and only God, our maker, who considers us all worthy of this privilege to be co-workers in His Kingdom.

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