One of the pit-falls of any ministry is that we start glorifying ourselves, not God. Pride starts to push itself in…and soon our ego is searching for the limelight and honor. II Corinthians 4:1 states, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” It’s only because of God’s infinite compassion on us that we have any kind of ministry at all. And it’s only because of the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us that we can act as ambassadors, representing our Lord. When a ministry glorifies God…and not our egos, good things happen.
Here Paul was warning about idolatry and falling into temptation. Probably the most conceited thought a Christian can have is, “That couldn’t ever happen to me!” It’s when you think your “beyond” being tempted…that it’ll sneak up behind and bite you. I’m sorry, but no one is immune to temptation and smugly thinking you are above it is only setting yourself up to fail. We all need to be on guard and wary…for our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
God is faithful…keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9) He is trustworthy, just, and true, unlike anyone else on this planet. For others will betray you…even those professing their love for you. But God will never go back on His Word. He can be trusted…so in turn, we can believe in Him. And in that confidence, springs hope. (Hebrews 10:23)
Paul wasn’t legally, socially, or personally obligated to anyone…but he willingly relinquished his freedom for the sake of winning others to Christ Jesus. And as Believers, we too are free…but that freedom was bought with a heavy price. And in realization of that mind-boggling freedom…it compels us to submission…first, to yielding our will to His… and then, to thinking of others before ourselves. Yes, we are free indeed…but in love, we need to submit one to another.
Here Paul is comparing the human body with the body of Christ…the Church. Just as the many parts of the human body work together in complete harmony…each with its own unique purpose, the body of Christ – the Church and its many parts need to come together in like-mindedness also. And just like the human body, one part cannot work in isolation from the rest. That would be like one Sunday morning your heart getting up and deciding not to be part of your body that day! You may think that your presence at Church doesn’t matter…but it does…the whole body suffers when one part is absent.
There was Church division in Corinth…some followed Apollos, some Peter, and some Paul. All three were Godly men…all three were preaching the Gospel. So where could there be the disagreement? Apollos was an Alexandrian Jew that was converted to Christianity and tutored by Aquila and Priscilla in areas of the faith he was ignorant of. While Peter was one of the original twelve Disciples that had witnessed firsthand the work of Jesus. Finally there was Paul, a Jew and persecutor of the Christians until that fateful day on the road to Damascus when the Lord confronted him. All three were passionate about the Lord and the desire to evangelize. But they all came from different backgrounds and different life experiences, and their preaching styles showed it. Thus Paul exhorted the Believers to be joined together in Christ and the Gospel, not divided apart by man and subtle nuances.