Monday after the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Posted on November 5, 2018 byunder
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23 (NKJV)
3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; 20 and again, “The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
St. Paul reminds us in today’s lesson that, when we Christians gather together around Word and Sacrament, we are God’s temple. His Spirit dwells among us. This is a tremendous blessing, but it also comes with a warning. “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.”
How were the Corinthians defiling God’s temple? They pitted one minister against another and broke their church up into factions as each group rallied behind its favorite preacher, boasting of him as if he were in competition with the rest.
How foolish! The ministers are nothing but the instruments “through whom you believed.” They work together, as teammates, as fellow workers of God, each doing the specific work God has given him. And if they are faithful ministers, then they do not preach themselves at all, but Christ Jesus as the only foundation of the Church.
There is a warning here for ministers, too. They must build on the foundation of Christ with worthy materials—with coherent teaching, with sound doctrine and a godly life. If they do, they will have a reward from God. If they prove less than faithful, then God Himself will be their judge.
In either case, the flock does well to think beyond the minister and to give thanks for the Gospel itself. For in the Gospel, God has given us all things already, even the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Instead of looking at the man who preaches, focus on the Gospel, and be zealous to preserve the unity within God’s holy temple!
We pray: Lord God, You graciously provide Your Church with ministers. Grant them to speak Your words and help us to hear the voice of our Good Shepherd whenever they speak; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.