Good Thursday morning to you. I pray you are well this morning. My apologies for missing yesterday. My routine was interrupted so many of the things I do in a day did not get done. This morning we are considering 1 Corinthians 2.
Many who consider themselves mature are not mature. We mistakenly equate time and experience with maturity. We figure if someone has lived a certain length of time and has had a lot of experience with life, they must be mature. We sometimes foolishly believe that because a person has been a Christian for 40 years that are spiritually mature enough for greater responsibilities in the Body of Christ. We are often wrong in our assumptions:
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? vv.1-3
Paul took as a sign of immaturity the fact that the believers were acting out of jealousy and causing fights among the believers. The cause of their jealousy? Their promoting one leader over another:
For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men? v. 4
Paul's use of the term "mere men" often strikes me as significant. What is he saying by using it? That being believers and being possessed by the Spirit of God we are a new creation, no longer simply men and women. I know we know the theory of this but I do not think we understand it enough to be living it. We are no longer "mere men" because we have been re-born as a new creation, different from the old. But do we live like a new creation or do we live according to the old attitudes and actions?
Consider what Paul would say to us if he was the one who had spiritual authority over us? What would he see in us? If it is not jealousy would he discover something else that belongs to "mere men"? What about envy, malice or even pride? Would he discover hatred and forgiveness in us? These things do not belong to believers let alone those who are mature believers. We should never find quarrels among the believers. There can be disagreements and misunderstandings that get worked out but never quarrels that result from jealousy or any of the other maturity busting attitudes. Recognize that wisdom is found among the mature:
Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." vv. 18-20
We have to be aware of believers who use the standards of the world as their measuring rod. We also have to guard against falling into that practice as well. Our only standard is Jesus Christ. Against him and him alone do we measure our progress. If you want to know how well you are doing in your spiritual walk and development look to the example that Jesus gave us. Don't compare yourself to other believers or the society around us. It is not too difficult to measure wisdom in the standards of our society, but if you want to know if you truly possess wisdom look to Jesus. An example? Just look at the text we are using.
These believers were quarreling over which leader was the most important. They had developed different camps for different leaders and they were battling it out. Paul put forward a simple thought based on the wisdom he had gained from desiring to be like Jesus:
So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. vv. 21-22
As the Father's children everything is for our benefit. One child is no more important than another thus everything is given for the benefit of everyone. Use the relationship you have with Jesus to understand this and so many other things. Set aside the old and put on the new. As a new creation you have some excellent benefits you have yet to claim; you also have some awesome responsibilities. Paul put this whole understanding in a neat little package of thought in Ephesians 4. Let us understand the purpose of all leaders, and let us understand the journey and process we are going through:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
"To prepare", "so that", "until we", "and become", "attaining to". It is a process we are going through which has the final outcome of us obtaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. This is a very good reason to shift the standards by which we live and get moving on this road to maturity.