The final lesson that we studied for our weekend staff retreat was I Corinthians 3. As we have seen from the previous lessons, God is interested in the quality of our work and not just the quantity.
I. The Lord’s servant must know his calling
Paul was a servant of the Lord. He was also one of the best missionaries/church planters the world has ever known. Although he could have, he never rang his own bell and basked in his own glory. He knew who he had been before meeting Christ and he knew that the Lord was doing the miraculous work in him and through him. Paul viewed himself as a servant. He realized that the field was the Lord’s and that he was just a worker in it, even though he was an awesome worker. Teamwork was foremost on his mind, working together with fellow ministers to plant and water all along knowing that God was the One who caused the growth. Paul also considered serving the Lord as a privilege instead of considering God privileged to have him on His team. What is your attitude like as a church member? Do you feel that the church is lucky to have you or do you consider it a privilege to be part of God’s family?
II. The Lord’s servant must work according to his calling
Paul understood the needs of his audience. He analyzed the situation to determine if the foundation needed to be lain (repentance and faith in Christ) or if it had already been lain and the building process needed to begin. If the audience was not ready for solid spiritual food, he gave them milk so that they could grow toward maturity and get to the point where they could handle the solid food. Like Matthew 13, he wanted to make sure that the people came face to face with God’s Word and understood It. If they did not, he was patient with them to meet them where they were and lead them from there. A servant of the Lord is never satisfied with the status quo. He wants to see growth in his disciples and does his part well. He also realizes that he is not the one who is responsible for the growth, God is.
III. The Lord’s servant must use the right tools
There are two types of building materials that the Lord’s servant can use.
12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident ; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss ; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (I Corinthians 3)
Paul understood an important truth that many followers of Christ need to understand today. Once the foundation of Christ has been laid, we now must build on that foundation which is another way of saying “discipleship”. As a builder, I can use gold, silver, and precious stones (the Word of God and Its teachings) or I can use wood, hay, and straw (they could even be noble things like books about the Word of God). If I choose to build with anything other than the Word of God, then all of my work will have been done in vain and I will have no one to blame but myself. There is not a question of loosing my salvation or not, even if I choose the wrong materials. I am saved but I will receive no reward. I will enter heaven with my head in shame because all of my service will have been done in vain. If I build according to God’s Word, I will enter heaven with my head held high ready to receive my reward, realizing that all the work that I accomplished was actually the Lord working in me and through me. Are you building people up in the Word of God? Are you making disciples? If you have disciples, what are you teaching them? Are you careful about the materials that you use? Do you teach them about the Word of God or do you actually teach them the Word of God? There is a huge difference between the two.
In conclusion, I pray that you see yourself as a humble servant of the Lord, serving His people by meeting them where they are and leading them to maturity through the Word of God. May the Lord help us be efficient in this holy calling.