The Length of the Mississippi River from its starting place at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico is 2350 miles long and has some 250 tributaries which drain a total area of more than 1,247,000 square miles. We don’t know the names of many of those tributaries, but we do see the outcome when they all work together–it moves 1.6 million gallons of water every second.
Philippians 2:12-13 instructs us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” We certainly don’t understand how God “works in us both to will and to do”, but we do understand the great things that can happen when we work with God. Let us examine 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 to learn what God has given to make his work tremendously successful.
GOD GIVES DEVELOPMENT–1 CORINTHIANS 3:5-9
A. Paul here makes it clear that it is not the minister but the God powered message which makes the difference in peoples’ lives and communities and the world.
B. This principle has been applied already in 1 Corinthians 1:21-25. This is why Paul was and we should be eager to “preach the Gospel.” Remember that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). It is the word, not the worker that is important. Let us trust God and simply serve so that we may be amazed at what He can do.
C. This principle is magnificently illustrated in Joshua 6 when the people of God marched around a great city-state and conquered simply by walking around. That is walking by faith! It works!
GOD GAVE THE DESIGN–1 CORINTHIANS 3:10-11
A. Paul has laid the foundation which is Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). We build upon the foundation of Christ by adding living stones to his spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:5). Here Christians are warned to take care how they build upon Christ. This refers to the doctrine and the quality with which we do God’s work.
B. We must apply this to our work for God. Christ is the cornerstone and we build our lives and his church around his direction–Ephesians 2:20-22.
C. The congregations of Galatia demonstrate the necessity of Christ shaped churches through their misshapen form which Paul rebuked – – Galatians 1:6-10.
GOD GIVES DESTINIES–1 CORINTHIANS 3:12-17
A. Notice there are options for the level of our work:
1. It can be great.
2. It can be mediocre.
3. It can be subpar.
4. It can be destructive.
B. Let us make our work for God as great as possible! The church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) was satisfied with being “lukewarm”, but we will never please God while we are mediocre. We must do our best for God, He gave us nothing less.
C. When it comes to God’s work, only the best will do. The ark was the perfect dimensions to float and not sink. The temple was one of the most magnificent structures of the ancient world. The 10 commandments have been the basis of the most successful governments on earth. God expects the best from us in our service to him. Go the extra mile with him.
The Corinthian church was divided by personalities and principles. God wanted them to be united and effective by hiding in the shadow of the cross. When we unite with God and his people, great things can happen. Someone has said, “without God, we cannot. Without us, he will not.” What will you do with God?