1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 22
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|God’s plan to use surrendered vessels; the prerequisite for men to be used as vessels; the partnership of God’s surrendered vessel; the proof of God using surrendered vessels; and the parity [equality] of God’s surrendered vessel.|
Vessels Through Which God Works
1 Corinthians 3:3-9
When immaturity characterizes a church, no matter where it is, the symptoms are going to be very similar to what we found at the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 3. I told you back in the introduction of the book that verses 29 were critical and would come up from time to time as we studied 1 Corinthians. Well, here it is. Let’s go back to chapter 1. I want to just make sure you are remembering this. This is the grid. If you want to see a Christian who is growing up, a Christian who has walked out of the nursery and said, “Listen, I am not going to be a baby anymore. I am going to grow up in my faith,” well, verses 29 will show you what he looks like.
Now the Corinthians were not looking like this because they refused to do it, but it is good for us to go back. In verse 2 of chapter 1, look what he says to begin with. He says that the church is God’s possession. He says in verse 2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth.” He didn’t say to the church of man. He said to the church of God. “Now what in the world are you doing attaching yourself to man?,” Paul is saying here. He has already shown them who they are supposed to be attached to, what they are supposed to be about.
Also in verse 2, he shows them that they have one eternal purpose, just one, and that purpose is to live according to God’s will. He says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling.” If you are a saint, you have been sanctified. Now what does that mean? Well, the raw meaning of it means that you have been taken out of sin, out of Adam. You have been placed over here into Christ and you have but one supreme purpose to live by. As long as your heart is beating, you have just one purpose.
What is that one purpose? To live as a vessel through which God can do His work. That is the whole key. So what are you doing attaching yourself to men? Attach yourself to Christ. Attach yourself to God. You are set apart for Him to use as His own vessel on this earth through which He can do His work. But he also shows them that they were to depend totally upon God and not at all upon man in everything.
In verse 2 he says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling [here is the key], with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” That “call upon” is present tense. It is a lifestyle. To call upon out of desperation. Paul is saying, “A baby in the nursery calls upon man, but somebody who is growing up has learned to call upon God for everything in his life. You don’t attach yourself to a preacher. Attach yourself to Christ. Call upon Him for everything. Live according to His purposes. Understand that you are His possession.”
Paul goes on to show them that in Christ and in the grace that He has given them, they have been enriched in everything. They don’t lack anything. So why do you need to attach yourself to man?
Then in verse 8 he reminds them of their future promise that Christ one day is coming for them. They will be kept blameless until that day. In verse 9 he shows them that they are partakers of Christ. Now, if a person lives this way, if he will grow up and come out of the nursery, there would be no division, jealousy or strife in the church of Jesus Christ. There is a time to be a baby, but there is a time to grow up. It is individuals who are living that way. It is not just me. It is not just you. It is everybody. If we would each choose to live that way, growing up, turning loose from man and attaching ourselves to Christ, living in the sufficiency that He has given to us, then we would erase division and immaturity in the church.
Sad to say, Corinth is not much unlike many of the churches in our time, and many believers who refuse to grow up, who attach themselves emotionally to a man, to a gift, or whatever else, instead of living in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. The immature do not live in who and whose they are. They live attached to men. The mature stand on their own two feet, even if alone, but filled to the fulness of God and living in the purposes that God has given to them.
It is sad to say that the church today is split in a thousand different ways just like the church of Corinth. So we continue with Paul’s argument of why not to attach yourselves to men. Don’t do it. Attach yourselves to Christ.
God’s plan to use surrendered vessels
There are five things that I want us to see concerning this. Some of them sound like a broken record. How many times have I said this in the Word of God? I don’t know how many times you have to preach it? I guess you just preach it until Jesus comes because it is all through the Word of God, folks. First of all, this is the one that is going to be more familiar to you. God’s plan is to use men as vessels through which He does His work.
Look at 1 Corinthians 3:5. There is a little word there that is so key: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” Now, “through whom” is very important. It is a great translation. The little word dia. You can translate it “by the means of,” but it is the same meaning. It is through, through whom. That is the way God uses people who are surrendered to Him. When you come out of the nursery, you get surrendered to Him, you live separate unto Him, then you become a candidate through which God can do His work in your life. It is like a line that is filled with electricity, coming from a power source somewhere. It is like a conduit or a pipe through which water can flow coming from a reservoir. That is what He wants us to be, a conduit. He wants us to be that vessel that is cleansed of selfish desires and agenda through which He can do His work.
Paul said, “It is through us that you believed. It wasn’t because of us but through us. God gave us a message and He allowed us to preach it. It was through us that you came to know Him.”
Paul says the same thing about this vessel that God wants us to be in Romans 15:1718. That is a very familiar passage. This is what Paul had to learn about being a Christian, the difference in religion and relationship, the difference of being immature and being mature. When you are mature, you are useable. When you are immature, you are not useable. Understand that. As long as you are attaching yourself to anything other than Christ, then God is not able to do His work through you. That is what you are set apart for, to be that vessel.
In Romans 15:17 he says, “Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.” Now, what has changed about the apostle Paul? Verse 18 reads, “For I will not presume, I will not dare, to speak of anything.” If I was in a room it was quiet. I wouldn’t break the silence with a noise other than “except what Christ has accomplished.” Now look at the wording, “through me [dia, the same little word there], resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles.” Now we know from Scriptures that when God has a vessel that has matured, a vessel that has come out of the nursery, a vessel that has surrendered to God and letting God do what He wants to do through His life, then when God chooses to do something through that individual, nothing is going to stop as long as that individual remains surrendered to God.
Look over in 2 Timothy 4 and I will show you this. God had something to do through Paul. Paul was not dead yet. He was about to be martyred for the faith. Look at what he says in 2 Timothy 4:16. He is in his last imprisonment. I want you to see this. 2 Timothy 4:16 says, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that,” and look at the next two words, “through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth.”
You see, when he was first imprisoned there during his second imprisonment, the believers knew how difficult it was and they were afraid to come and take their defense along side him for whatever reason. So he stood alone. But God wanted to accomplish that message of the gospel getting out to his accusers. Therefore, God strengthened him and used him mightily as a grownup, mature believer who was about the purposes of God, you see. God accomplished what He wanted to accomplish through the apostle Paul.
It is important that we understand the fallacy of putting your trust into men. Why would you want to put your trust into a conduit? Why would you want to put your trust into something that is only a vessel through which the power and the person of Christ can be made manifest? Why would you not put your faith into the One who is empowering them? Why not get plugged in to the right source? You see, that is what Paul is saying. Don’t attach yourself to men. They are just vessels. But God is the one you attach yourself to. He is the one who gives them the power to do what they do.
Now these men are just vessels. We saw this in the book of Judges. When it said, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and Jephthah and Samson.” What did that mean in the Hebrew? It meant that he put them on like a set of clothes. God said, “I want some skin through which I can do my work.” And so they became the vessels through which God could do His work. This has always been God’s way.
So, I want you to know that just as with Paul and Apollos and what He wanted the church of Corinth to know, if we will just grow up and start living in light of our faith, pledging allegiance to the Lamb, living surrendered unto Him, then God can do His works through us the same way. That is exactly the message. But if you attach yourself to a man, you have just shut the process down. A person who is attaching themselves to anyone or anything other than Jesus is not a vessel through which God can do His works. That is the whole point of what the Christian life is all about. So the plan is that God wants to use men as vessels through which He accomplishes His work.
The prerequisite for men to be used as vessels
The second thing is the prerequisite for men to be those vessels that God can use. To qualify for God’s using, they had to make a choice. They had to grow up. They had to come out of the nursery. Look at Verse 5 again: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul?” What is the next word? “Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” The word for “servant” is diakonos. It is the word that means, “your glass is empty. Can I get you another glass of water? Is there anything else I can do for you?” This is the word that we get the word “deacon” from.
You know, that word was never properly translated. It was transliterated. It was made into a word, and a lot of people do not even know today what a deacon is. The word means to serve, to minister. It is not a position of honor. It is a position of service. But it is also the calling of every believer. When you come out of the nursery, you come out serving. “Lord, what would you have me to do?” That is the attitude. Not, “What can you do for me,” but “What can I do for you?” They were servants.
There is a synonym of this word that has a harsher understanding of it. It is the word doulos, which means slave. Now that is the word in Romans 1:1 where Paul doesn’t call himself a servant. He calls himself a bondservant, a slave. He means it that I am a love slave. I get to do, not that I have to do. I am privileged to get to do the things that God wants me to do. That is the attitude of a mature believer, one who is maturing, not matured in the sense of he has arrived, but one who is growing up, one who is coming out of the nursery. It is not, me, me, mine, mine anymore. It is you and Him and whatever He wants. It changes the whole attitude of the individual.
He uses this word doulos not only in Romans 1:1 but in Galatians 1:10 and Titus 1:1 to speak of himself. It is synonymous with servant, but it has that deeper understanding that he has laid his will down, that he has laid his agenda down, that his attitude has been dealt with and he just wants to live his life as a vessel to be whatever God wants him to be.
Now understand, babies have to attach themselves to a person. They have to. They have got to have a preacher by their side. They have to have somebody right there all the time. They can’t live standing on their own two feet. Eric, my soninlaw, and I kept his daughter, my granddaughter, recently on a Saturday. I think men ought to keep a granddaughter from time to time to help the granddaughter really grow up right. I mean, we had her for three hours and did we ever have the best time in the world. But she is not quite used to me yet. She is used to her grandmother, Nana. She says that real well. She is not doing too good with Poppy, but she is working on it.
When I first walked towards her she was in the kitchen. Diana and Stephanie had snuck out the door. It was really, really slick the way they did that. She was standing in the kitchen and didn’t even know they have left. I walked over towards her to pick her up and she backed up and said, “Mama, Mama, Mama.” That is what she always says when she is in a jam and she is backed up against the wall. After about an hour, she finally came around and boy, we just had a blast. It will take them weeks to retrain her. I am fulfilling my role, I think, with vigor. But you know, it was so precious.
It dawned on me how a baby has got to have somebody right beside them all the time. “That preacher doesn’t love me; I was in the hospital and he didn’t even call me. That person in my Sunday School class didn’t even say hi to me when I came this morning.” That’s the whining of little babies who just won’t grow up. The Scripture says that the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, diakonos, but He came to minister. When you come out of the nursery, you are not worried about what somebody is or isn’t doing to you. It is “Lord, what would you have me to do?” That is maturity. But it is not in Corinth and that is why Paul is saying, “You are attaching yourselves to men. Don’t you do that.”
The prerequisite for attaching yourself to God and for God to use you as a vessel is that you be that bondservant. God gave Paul and Apollos the opportunity to be drawn into what He was doing in Corinth. Look at verse 5 again. He says, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” Now some people take that last phrase and say that means to the people who believed in Corinth. I have no problem with that, but I don’t think that is what he is saying. I think he is speaking of Paul and Apollos. At a certain time and point, God drew Paul into what He was doing and at a certain time and point, He drew Apollos into what He was doing. The two were useable conduits because they were surrendered to Christ. Therefore, God could do His work through them. Why? Because they were servants. That is the key. The prerequisite is a surrendered will unto Him, attaching yourself to Him, never attaching yourself to people, but attaching yourself to Him. Letting Jesus be Jesus in and through your life.
The partnership of God’s surrendered vessel
So we see the plan is to use men as vessels, and He can use us all. But the prerequisite is that we be surrendered to Him. Thirdly, there is the partnership of God’s surrendered vessel. It is incredible to me, when you start becoming a part of what God is doing, God opens your eyes to the fact that there are others also involved. A little baby only thinks of his own little world. Everything revolves around him or her. But when you start growing up, you realize that it doesn’t just revolve around you. There are other people out there God is using. It is God’s work and God’s design, therefore, He uses certain ones to accomplish it. Some are seen, and others are unseen. But they are all equally used. It is a partnership. They need one another.
Now Paul and Apollos had different callings, but there was a partnership that Paul brings out so clearly. You have got to see it. When you start growing up and God starts using you, you begin to realize the importance of other people who are around you. In verse 6 he says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” Paul’s role was to plant the seed of God’s gospel where it had not been planted before.
Look over in Romans 15:20. This is so clear. Paul went to where seed had not been sown. Paul went to where people had not heard about Jesus before. That was his calling. That was different than Apollos’ calling. Paul says in verse 20, “And thus I aspired to preach the gospel [now watch], not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation.” He is using these agricultural terms here like, “I planted,” when he talks about it in Corinth. He is talking about a farmer who goes out to a field that has never been worked before. He has a brand new field with brand new seed and puts it in that field. Paul said, “That is my calling.”
That is why he took the gospel from Jerusalem to Eliricum which is modern-day Bosnia, 1400 miles. He said, “I fully preached the gospel of Christ.” That was his calling. Even though the calling of Apollos was not the same they needed one another. Apollos was the second pastor of the church of Corinth. He is the one who followed the apostle Paul. He watered what Paul had planted.
The word for “watered” there has the meaning metaphorically of instruction in the Word of God. So Paul took the Word of God and saw people saved as a result of it and he gave them the milk. But here comes Apollos. The crops were up, you see. It wasn’t a new field. It wasn’t a place where Christ hadn’t been named. Paul had already been there. He built upon the foundation that Paul had already laid. But the two were working hand in hand. Both were surrendered vessels through which Christ could work and both understood how much they needed one another. One plants and another waters, Paul says. Now, they needed both.
I want to see if I can explain this. In a typical service we have got the sound guys up in the booth. We have folks up in the lighting booth. We have them over in the TV area. We have TV cameramen all around. We have the choir. We have our pianist and organist. We have the ushers. We have parking lot guys. We have the counters when the money is given. We have Sunday School teachers and nursery workers. I know I am leaving somebody out. But everyone is important because each one is a part of the work that God is doing. That is the way it works.
But what they were doing, since Paul and Apollos, was clearly seen. They would attach themselves to those men. And the apostle Paul is saying, “No, that is immature. That is childish. Man, be a part of the work God wants to do in your own life. Attach yourself to Him and then you can get in on the bigger picture of what God is doing.”
A team is important. Just because someone is not as seen as another one, they need another. There is no such thing as a healthy team with a selfish player. When one person stops being that vessel through which God can work, it is somehow inhibiting the work that God is seeking to do through His people. Corinth was a vivid picture of this. They said, “We are not going to grow. We are sinning against the very life and principle of growth. Because God lives in us, the seed of life is in us, but we refuse to grow. I want this church to do something for me! I want that preacher to do something for me!” Whine, whine, whine. We ought to have about a thousand little baby bottles and when somebody starts whining like that, we need to put one in their mouth. Go find a corner and sulk for a while, while the rest of us go on and get a part of what God is doing! Growing up in the faith.
The proof of God using surrendered vessels
Well, we have the plan, the prerequisite and the partnership. Fourth, there is the proof of God’s using surrendered vessels. How do you know God is using a surrendered vessel? Look at the verb tense in verse 6 carefully. “I planted, Apollos watered [watch this], but God was causing the growth.” That is imperfect tense. I love that because imperfect tense means no beginning and no end. He is pointing back to a continuous action in the past. Now listen to me. When Paul was there and when Apollos was there, there was growth. They have both been long gone now and the church has stopped growing. It is a problem. When they were there, there was growth. God was causing growth while they were there. I planted, and God was causing the growth. God gave the seed of His Word to Paul. God gave the water of His Word to Apollos and the two were just simply using that which God had given them and in the midst of it, God was causing the growth.
Now the word for growth is a word we have to understand because we are living in a day when people say, “This is how you grow a church.” The word growth also means to increase a church. If you don’t realize the meaning of this word, then you have missed the whole principle of God using men only as vessels. God accomplishes his work. The word is auxano. The word means that which only God can do.
I was in a conference, and they asked us to tell how our churches grew. One man got up in front of me and for 30 minutes talked about how they instructed the ushers, how they had visitation, how they had letters that went out and how they called everybody and how they did this, did that and he said, “That is what grew our church.” I was standing there praying, “God, please don’t let them ask me.” They said, “Wayne, how did you grow your church?” I said, “Well, first of all that is a misnomer. I have absolutely grown nothing, for I cannot grow anything. However, I have seen God do some marvelous things.” I began to walk through the prayer meetings that we had for one whole year in 1982 when the men came on Friday night. We walked the property and we got on the pews. We went into Sunday School classes and prayed, “God, would you do a work on this property that only Jesus could get the glory and the credit for.” Then we began to teach the Word of God. This is why when somebody asks me, “How is the church doing?” I say, “We are doing the same thing we did 10 years ago. We are equipping the saints for the work of the ministry with no flare and no fluff.” There is real excitement in going to the cross. That is what we are doing.
We are going to lose people down the road, folks. Paul says in the last days men will not endure sound doctrine. As I began to share with them what we did as God led us to do it, and what God has done as a result of it, there was a hush in the room. I really felt embarrassed to even share it because it was so diametrically opposed to what I had just heard. When I finished they looked at the other man and said, “What would you say about that?” He said these words, “I wouldn’t touch that with a 30 foot pole. What you have just heard is what only God can do.” Now folks, that is growth.
Let me explain the word auxano again. It means that which must be acted upon by an outside power or have the element of life within him, just like a seed has to have life within it. Life is inside that seed and you plant it and the life comes out of it. If the principle of life is not there, there is no growth. God doesn’t just give life, He is our life. So until a person responds to the gospel, until a person responds to Christ who is our life, there is no growth. You can have increase in numbers but you cannot have growth internally and eternally unless God is doing that work in the individual’s life.
It says in 1 John 5:11, “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son.” That is where the principle of life is. Unless He is dominant in my life, unless He is being surrendered to and bowed to, there is no growth. You can have numbers but you cannot have growth unless God Himself perfects that growth. We do not grow churches. We just simply surrender to His will and then He can use us as a vessel through which He can build and grow His own church.
This leads Paul to say in verse 7, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything.” The word “anything” there is a little pronoun, tis in the Greek, and it means we are not somebodies. Don’t look at us as if we are somebody. Don’t attach yourself to us in the context. Man, we are not anybody. We are just those vessels.
“But God who causes the growth.” Now look at the tense change here. In verse 6 it is imperfect tense. He points back to when and Apollos were there. But in verse 7 he said, “God is causing the growth.” The idea I get from it is, hey, you are not growing right now. You are still babies. You haven’t grown up. But God is constantly the one who is causing the growth. Now, come and attach yourself to Him and get in on the growth because the growth is obvious when you surrender to Him. The growth will not be there unless you are surrendered to Him. The proof that God is using them is in the fact that God was causing the growth. The imperfect tense was used very clearly in verse 6. The proof that God is the one who initiates that growth is in the present tense. He continuously is the one who is affecting growth. There is no growth unless God is the initiator, for only in Him is life. Man can build crowds. Only God can grow and build His church. And it will be to the degree that His people are willing to surrender to His will, come out of the nursery and get a part of that which God wants to do through their lives.
The parity of God’s surrendered vessel
The final thing is the parity of God’s surrendered vessel. You know what the word parity means? It means equality. We have got to understand this. Apollos and Paul are equal in the sight of God. There is no big “I’s” and little “you’s.” There is in our world, but not in God’s world. God sees it as a huge work that He is doing and each person plays a role. No matter how big or how small, every person is equal in the sight of God.
Verse 8 reads, “Now he who plants and he who waters are one.” Now that word for “one” is not numerical one. It is the same word that Jesus used in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” It means in quality and in essence. So Apollos and Paul stood side by side, two different callings, diametrically different. Apollos, was the teacher who came in and built upon what Paul had planted. Both of them were different, but both of them were equal as far as God was concerned. They were just vessels that He could use. Though the work of Paul was different than the work of Apollos, both were of essence and quality, the same essence and quality because they were surrendered to Him and it was God’s work being done through them. Compared to what God accomplished, both were essential. They were married in now to what God was doing. And God was using them in that way.
You can illustrate this easily by the story of Dwight L. Moody. Mr. Kimball was an 80year old man who wondered if God could ever use him. He got burdened for this little shoe store worker and so he went down to the shoe store and God used him as a vessel through which he shared the gospel with Dwight L. Moody. D.L. Moody, at that time, had a speech impediment and a fourth grade education. They wouldn’t let him in the great church there in the city, and so he had to go out and start his own class in teaching people and winning people to Christ. He led so many people to Christ that the church was embarrassed not to let him in. Word spread of how God was using this simple man, surrendered to Christ. F.B. Meyer called him over to England to come and speak. He went over to England, butchered the King’s English, told deathbed stories and was totally emotional. F.B. Meyer said, “I am so glad to get rid of this guy.”
After Moody left, F.B. Meyer was walking down the street one day and saw one of his Sunday School teachers. He said, “Aren’t you glad that man from America is gone?” The teacher looked him, began to weep and said, “Oh, sir. When he shared of how he led all of his members of his Sunday School class to Christ, I realized that I had never even cared enough to share with these people one on one.” She said, “I went out and God led me to go to each one of my class members and as far as I know, every one of them now has come to know Christ.” F.B. Meyer got down on his knees right there on the sidewalk and said, “It is not by might, it is not by power, but it is by My Spirit says the Lord.” It radically changed his life.
He came to America and began to preach. And out of his preaching came Wilbur Chapman, one of the great revivalist of the latter years. Wilbur Chapman one day was preaching and as a result came to know Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday was led to go into evangelism and to preach the message of the gospel. He even preached Wilbur Chapman’s sermons half the time, read them word for word. Billy Sunday was the most unlikely man you could ever think of that God could use. He was a former baseball player. He would slide across as if he was sliding into home plate, of a person barely making it into heaven. One man walked down the aisle one day, and he grabbed his beard and went, “Honk, honk.” One man came down and said, “I don’t believe what you are teaching. I don’t believe the Word of God is true.” He said, “Yes, it is.” He grabbed his nose and twisted it until blood shot out of his nose and he quoted the verse in Proverbs, “The twisting of the nose bringeth forth blood.” That was Billy Sunday.
Out of Billy Sunday’s preaching came Mordecai Ham. Mordecai Ham was the one who went to Charlotte, North Carolina. For five years several men had been getting in an old barn and praying for revival in Charlotte. He went there and preached. On the third night a man kept trying to get away from him because he was so under conviction, but they had prayed that God would bring a revival to Charlotte, North Carolina that would shake the world for Jesus Christ. Finally on Wednesday night, under the preaching of Mordecai Ham, Billy Graham came forward and gave his heart to Jesus Christ.
Now listen, all of these people played a role in that. You can’t take it away. That 80year old man who went down and witnessed to Dwight L. Moody is just as important as Mordecai Ham or F. B. Meyer or anybody else. He did what God told him to do and he was equal. He was one in quality and essence with any of the others that you mention. And when you stand before God one day, you will see that.
So what Paul is saying is, “Don’t attach yourself to men. Are you kidding? You are just as much worth to God as I am. Why would you attach yourself to me? You be the person God wants you to be. Grow up and get out of the nursery and start believing God and be a vessel through which God can use. Don’t put an agenda on God because He doesn’t accept human agendas. You may never be known except to Him. That is all that is important. That is the key. He who plants and he who waters are one.”
Then Paul brings out the fact, “But each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” This is powerful. Each will receive his own is the word idios. It means each individual. Even though we are equal as vessels in God’s sight, God doesn’t look at one as the big guy and one as the little guy. No, no. Equal. But proportionately to the way Paul surrendered to what God had gifted him to do, proportionately. Paul is going to be rewarded one day for that labor. And proportionately, Apollos is going to be rewarded. Even though they are both equal, they had different assignments. Apollos is not going to be judged for what Paul was asked to do. “To him that is given much, much is required.” He is only going to be judged by what was given him to do.
Down here in this world, we attach ourselves to men. We parade men in front of folks as if they are really somebody. But we are going to stand before God one day and we are going to be surprised at the people in the front of the line God rewards. There is a little pastor who is probably in the middle of Zimbabwe right now who nobody will ever know. He has not been educated, but he is a vessel surrendered to God. You are going to see him standing right there in the front line of the people God exalts because they were willing to die to themselves and just be what God wanted them to be.
Paul is saying, “Why is the world would you attach yourself to a person? Man, we are only vessels. Each of us is going to be judged according to the work that God has assigned to us by his own labor.” The word “labor” by the way, in case you think that living this life is easy, is the word that means to sweat and to be weary and to be worn out. But it is a good kind of being worn out. Not a fleshly worn out. Boy, when God gets hold of you, He will wear you out, but it is the best worn out you have ever been because it is in His strength and it is in His power that He has asked you to do what He has asked you to do.
Matthew 16:27 says, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” You know, almost every person who hears this thinks of that in a negative way. Isn’t that interesting? Our sins were judged at the cross. We are not talking about that. We are talking about rewards, recompense. You say, “Well, that scares me.” Well, the only reason it should scare you is if you are still in that nursery and you haven’t come out yet. But if you will get out of there and wake up and surrender and be the vessel God wants to use you for, you are not going to be afraid of that. You are going to look forward to that because it is a reward not to penalize, but to reward men according to their labor.
Paul is saying, “Don’t attach yourself to men, vessels, conduits. They are only important if they are plugged into the right thing.”
Paul is saying, “Why in the world would you attach yourself to men? Attach yourself to the right thing. Attach yourself to Christ. You become worth something when you are attached to the right source and can be a vessel through which God can do His work. Don’t live attached to men. Grow up. Attach yourself to Christ and be what God wants you to be.”