March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”—1 Corinthians 3:5–9 (NIV)
Today’s passage of Scripture shows us that Paul recognizes his true identity in Christ. Recognizing your identity in Christ correctly orients you and guides you when you’re incapable of seeing beyond your current circumstances, it prevents you from having to compete with others for God’s love or approval, and it also prevents you from developing an “us’” versus “them” mentality.
Paul was drawing attention to a serious issue amongst believers: elevating anyone or anything to some undue position and losing focus on God. There were camps of believers in the Corinthian church who were developing the “us” versus “them” mentality when it came to who led them to Christ and discipled them. Paul is quick to remind all believers that he is merely a servant of God and that God alone “makes things grow.”
This mindset problem amongst believers actually touches on the first two commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me,” and “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:1–5 NIV).
Making an idol out of any pastor, teacher, guide, spouse, child, etc. is an issue of the heart and a violation of the first two commandments. It’s shifting your hope, praise, and love to someone or something else other than God. The scary thing is that it happens subtly and over the course of time.
I recently went to the doctor and discovered that I am hypertensive, as well as 10 pounds overweight. For those reasons, the doctor ordered some tests to evaluate my heart. Come to find out, it was functioning below normal and has some irregularities. I was in shock and completely distraught over these findings. I thought to myself, “I’m a young man who has been active and in good shape most of my life. How could this happen to me?”
The answer is in lifestyle and hereditary traits. You see, high blood pressure runs on both sides of my family. And my diet could be much cleaner without so much sodium, fat, or sugars. What I came to find out is that heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it rarely displays any symptoms until you have a heart attack or stroke.
I wanted to share that because it is just like idolatry. Idolatry is a condition of the heart, which is a silent killer that often displays little to no symptoms until it’s too late. Thankfully, my visit to the doctor informed me of my issue; likewise, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will make it known to you when there is an issue of the heart so you can repent and change course.
Pause: How secure are you in your identity in Christ?
Practice: Reflect on Proverbs 17:3 (NIV): “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”
Pray: Today, instead of providing a guided prayer, I will instead ask that you pray Psalm 139 to the Lord. Make it your personal prayer and plea to Him.
John Madge has been on staff with Calvary for over 4 years, serving as the Digital Systems Manager in the Communications Department. In 2019, he went on his first mission trip with Calvary Chapel to Hungary in order to support local missionaries and churches and share the gospel with locals. John enjoys living an active lifestyle through sports, fitness, and the occasional Zumba class. He has a deep desire for others to know the love of God in Christ Jesus and is a huge mental health advocate. He also hopes to be fluent in Spanish one day.