Verse: 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
In these verses, we have Paul in Corinth rebuking his Christian followers. He is saying that they are still very young in the faith and not ready for deeper things. Why? He calls them worldly or carnal. They were still acting as they had been before they received Jesus, maybe not in all things but likely in many. They were infants that needed to grow considerably in their faith.
What were the behaviors that made Paul say that they were worldly? He said that they were jealous and quarrelers. The Message translate this as “you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important.” King James adds “divisions” to the list of worldly actions while the Living Bible says “you divide up into quarreling groups.”
Are you getting the picture of what Paul was seeing in the early church in Corinth. He loved these new believers but he couldn’t teach them the deeper things of Jesus until they grew beyond these basic, rudimentary problems. They valued worldly things and were jealous of what others had. They valued luxury and pleasure. What is there in today’s world that is like that?
They took sides on worldly issues forming groups who then argued vehemently with others, including other believers. This made them look important and they wanted that appearance. What would Paul or Jesus say about all the division in the world today? Would they say we were being childish?
I think the words that hurt the most but provide the most hope is that they were (and maybe we are) acting like “mere men.” We can include all of us in this categorization and say “mere humans.” We don’t have to be mere humans. There is more for us and Jesus shows us the way. When we accept Him and walk with the Holy Spirit, we are transformed and receive the gifts of the Spirit. We can put away jealousy and through the power of the Holy Spirit replace it with love and generosity and self-control. We can stop the quarreling and division and replace it with peace and kindness and gentleness. Let’s take some time today to look inward and see if there are areas in our lives that are worldly. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you make a change.
Jesus, help us to look at those areas where we allow jealously and strife and division to seep into our lives, point them out and help us push them out. We ask that you replace these worldly values with your heavenly values instead.
Author: Brad Dunn