Even though the Corinthians had received the Spirit, they still chose to live like people who had not. They lived according to the ways of the world which led Paul to compare them to infants still drinking milk.
After the initial acceptance of the Gospel (milk), we must grow more in Christ and start asking for solid food from Him. Some of us are rather satisfied with our initial transformation and keep testifying about that day in different crowds without actually having new experiences with God. In due course, this will result in a separation from Christ as we are not eating according to what our spiritual bodies require.
You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?1 Corinthians 3:3
Paul says that the congregation of the church in Corinth were still spiritual babies as they were still running after worldly things which led to jealousy and quarrelling among them.
The more we run after worldly possessions, our minds will never be at rest, never be in a state to seek God or truly understand what He has to offer us. Remember that when Abram started his journey, he was of very little faith, a spiritual baby but by the end of the journey, Abraham had communion with God and God even revealed His plans to Abraham (Genesis 18:17).
When we start looking at our church leaders with worldly eyes and start judging them with the standards of this world, we are forgetting that Christ died for them also. Instead we hold them to a different standard altogether in our minds.
Some leaders are held on such a high platform that people keep them a step above even Christ, while some leaders are regarded on par with satan as their message seems blasphemous to many. This leads to divisions in the Church and more importantly divisions in the body of Christ, as people lose focus on the end goal and start finding faults in one another.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow1 Corinthians 3:7
Neither the one who planted our Church nor the one who runs it now, has anything to do with our Spiritual growth but it is God working through them that helped us transform our lives. The people that God uses to bring us closer to Him should never be praised by us but we do need to thank God for sending these people in our lives.
So then, no more boasting about human leaders!1 Corinthians 3:21
Servants of Christ
A true leader is humble as he knows it is not by their might or knowledge that they have so many followers rather it is by the Grace of God that they have been given temporary charge of His sheep. It is the responsibility of human leaders to build with care, keeping God’s will as their spiritual compass when guiding their church. After all, they will have to answer to God on how they built on the foundation of Christ (His death on the cross), which materials they used (their teachings) and what was the result of their endeavours (did they produce people connected to God or people connected to the world).
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.1 Corinthians 4:2
Do we need to prove our stance? God knows our heart and nothing is hidden from Him but humans cannot see the heart of a person. They need some physical proof to see that you are utilising the Gift of God in the right way.
We cannot ask people to prove their loyalty to God or to a church but Paul is addressing those, who knowing very well what has been given to them, don’t want to change their ways but still are guiding their sheep on the wrong path.
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.1 Corinthians 4:5
We cannot judge a book by its cover and similarly we cannot judge anyone, as we do not know what is in a person’s heart. Only Jesus can expose the true intentions of the heart at the appointed time. Till then, it is wasteful to judge and speculate on someone’s spiritual health. Paul was being judged and criticised by the Corinthians to which his response, though seems somewhat boastful, was that he doesn’t even judge himself but is rather waiting for God’s judgement.
We all know our own heart and have the basic self-awareness of the areas where we need to improve. A self-evaluation from time to time is needed to grow in any discipline. By not judging ourselves, we fall in the trap of the evil one and start becoming self-righteous and would soon develop arrogance like the Corinthians. Jesus asked us to judge what is right from wrong and even Paul asks us to do the same in several places in this same letter.
I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.1 Corinthians 10:15
Someone Must Decrease
The people were behaving like royalties as they thought that they had the spiritual freedom to do anything they desired. Everyone received the Spirit because of the Grace of God but their arrogance led them to believe that they deserved their Gift. Paul goes on a rant filled with sarcasm on how the true leaders of the church are perceived by their congregation, as fools, dishonoured, persecuted and brutally treated.
We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.1 Corinthians 4:13
For Christ to increase, we need to decrease, but leaders sometimes are worried about their followers and disciples perceiving them as imperfect people. They put on a show in front of their congregations, lest someone should think of them as sinners like the rest of us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.Galatians 5:22-23
Everyone desires the gifts of the Spirit but only a few even know about the fruits of the Spirit. While the gifts of the Spirit help us draw people to God, the fruits of the Spirit are equally important for all of us, leaders and congregations alike, without which we will lead our fellow believers in the path away from God.