If you’ve ever been publicly called out, then you have a sense of how the Corinthians must have felt as they read through chapter 3. Paul issues forth a sharp and firm rebuke for the church that they need to grow up. We see that he is driving them, and us; that God calls us to maturity in and through the Gospel.
1. Godly Maturity Pursues Identity in Jesus: 3:1-9
While Paul is addressing a host of issues in the church, what is at the root of those issues, is the Corinthians finding identity in things outside of Jesus. Their immaturity is manifested in sinful conduct with things like jealousy and strife. At its root, not only is their identity fixed outside of Jesus, but we see that they are satisfied solely with Jesus. So in this, Paul calls them to find their identity in Christ. He does this in a few different ways. He reminds them (and us) that we are servants of Jesus. Our identity is found in the fact that we belong to God. Secondly, he tells us God is the one who gives the growth. We can’t save or sanctify anyone! Only God does that. Third, he reminds us that we are unified. We may have different gifts and different roles but we are all on the same team working toward the same purpose: the glory of Jesus! Finally, he tells us that God rewards our labor. Now it’s important to note that he doesn’t say that we’re rewarded by results; but we’re rewarded for our labor. Loved one, find your identity in the person of Jesus!
2. Godly Maturity Pursues Eternal Investment: 3:10-17
Paul takes a second metaphor of a building, and drives home a second crucial point about godly maturity pursuing eternal investment. He tells us that we are to build with care. This means that we must be sure that we build with care by building with the true gospel! Secondly, we are to build with eternity in mind. Paul gives a sobering example that reveals the possibility that we may in fact be wasting our life when we fail to pursue eternal investment. We pursue eternal investment when we do what Paul says next,which is we build the church. Here Paul brings his argument full circle. He is stating that when we are jealous and strife filled, we are destroying the temple, i.e. the church. His rebuke is pushing the church toward the church loving and caring for one another.
3. Godly Maturity Pursues Godly Wisdom: 3:18-23
Paul concludes by encouraging the Corinthians toward godly wisdom. He lets them know that godly wisdom is not self-deceived. This means that we come to realize that we aren’t as smart as we think we are, and that we really do in fact need Jesus in every facet of our life! This drives at the second point of what Paul mentions in knowing that we belong to Christ.
Church, God call us to maturity in and through the gospel.By God’s grace, let us endeavor to grow up in Him for His glory and for our good.