wash n' word
1 Corinthians 4:14-21
1 Corinthians 4:14-21
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
We continue our study on what Christian maturity is to look like. We examined how “zeal without knowledge” can be more hurtful to the gospel than helpful. Paul encourages his readers the take time to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
One of the hardest lessons to learn as a believer is to, well, learn! Every one of us is endowed with some level of knowledge, understanding, intellect, ability or skill. Our tendency is to dart off right out of the gate and begin our calling to “go out into all the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28:18-20).
While this may be a noble ambition, we must realize that we are a work in progress. We can be useful while we are learning, in fact, we have to be! If we are indeed forever learning and growing, then anything we do for the kingdom will be intricately combined with learning.
John Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. He no doubt was in tune with the New Testament writings when he said this. Leadership is essential to every church, every movement, every business, governments, schools, families, etc. This is why Paul basically says,
Christian maturity is being willing and able to come under authority.
Paul wanted them to know he was their father in Christ. Even this Timothy fellow, who would soon come to them, is to be regarded as a spiritual leader and they must fall in line with that.
One of the reasons I became a pastor was because of this last point. I remember being under the training and tutelage of a pastor in Florida. I was leading a Bible study at the time and even though things were going great, leadership of that church decided to change the format and the dynamics of the Bible studies. It wasn’t a test, but because I submitted to the leadership, even though I did not totally agree, the leadership recognized that as a benchmark to my being ready to get ordained. When the board passed the decision to ordain me, it was that show of submission that sealed the deal so to speak.
One of the main reasons this is a problem within the church today is not so much a lack of submissive followers to the anointed and appointed leader/shepherd, but the lack of anointed and appointed shepherd leaders.
Men who command, not demand, authority and respect are in short supply. Men of integrity and good moral character are hard to find anymore. Men who themselves are submissive to the Holy Spirit. Men who are strong enough and firm enough to command the respect of others around them and under them.
This is one reason I believe when it comes to church government it should be pastor led. The Bible says that the pastor is the shepherd of the flock. When I pastored my church I was not subject to some board of stuffy like minds.
I did not lead the church constantly being worried about saying the wrong thing and losing my job. I did not dance around on egg shells all the while trying to lead the church according to the way the Holy Spirit led me.
Now, that being said, I did have a board of elders that held me accountable. They helped guide the church and were there to bounce ideas off of and, God forbid I ever strayed in my teaching, they were there to correct and rebuke.
Paul says in verse 20 that the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. One who commands respect does so because they are themselves under authority and in submission to the Holy Spirit. The result of such a leader is not words, but power.
Also understand that there is a difference between commanding respect and demanding respect. One who commands respect is one who leads by example and demonstrates, through action, that they care about those under them. While a person who demands respect uses power, influence and position to control those under them.
“SO THEN…” part of growing up in Christ, part of becoming mature in the Lord is to apply the words “so then” as often as possible. Every spiritual and biblical principle and teaching should be bridged by these 2 words.
Peter puts it in perspective for us…
2 Peter 3:11
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
In closing I would encourage you to weigh all of life against the words “so then…” The end of the game has us who believe in a place of eternal glory with God. Since the world will be destroyed and our place is secured in Heaven, is there anything we endure, go through, suffer in, or encounter that could really compare to what awaits us. I will leave you these words Paul will say to them in his second letter…
2 Corinthians 4:17
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.