Church #nofilter 6.2
Pray and read
Praise God for making himself known to us by his Son. Ask him to give you eyes that see, and a heart which responds with faith and thanksgiving.
Read 1 Corinthians 4 and then re-read vv.1-5.
Paul has been carefully warning the Corinthians against putting human leaders on pedestals for the last 3 chapters. How should we think about what Christian leaders are? (v.1)
Paul uses the words “servant” (a bond servant was essentially a household slave) and “steward” — one who oversees or manages a household on behalf of a master. Although Paul is happy to describe himself as their servant in another place (2 Cor 4:5), what difference does it make to emphasise that the apostles are Christ’s servants?
Paul warns the Corinthians against passing judgment on Christian leaders and ministries that may look weak and insignificant — there’s only one person who’s opinion matters. On the other hand Paul slams false teachers and call on churches to exercise discernment in which teachers they listen to! (e.g. Gal 1:6-10; 5:7-12) Look at the building analogy in 3:10-15, how does this picture help us to hold these two different admonitions together? What is the most important criterion in appraising a leaders’ work? (v.2)
We are always tempted to put some especially gifted leaders on a pedestal, think the big name pastors who speak at conferences to thousands. In the last 10 years a number of very powerful and influential pastors in our theological stream who were raised up on pedestals have fallen from grace. How do we receive the good things God has for us (3:21-23) without lionising them?
While we are not to condemn leaders whose ministry looks insignificant (at least from the outside!), how do we exercise discernment in working out which leaders we will choose to follow?
Continue to pray for our leaders at Providence City! Pray for wisdom, grace and faithfulness to the gospel in the ministries to which they have been appointed.
Pray for all of us — that we wouldn’t be taken in by the surface appearance of flashy leaders, but would look for humble self-sacrificial servants to follow.