1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Introduction: Ever notice how people act around babies? We make sounds we normally don’t use. We change our vocabulary. Does the baby want his baba? We get right in their face. We try to communicate to them on what we believe to be their level I suppose. I wonder if babies think that adults are weird. We sometimes act weird around babies but it is ok, we are supposed to do that I guess.
In our text this morning, Paul tells the Corinthians that he has to treat them like babies. Anyone ever call you a big baby? These people actually were, spiritually. Paul had to treat them like babies even though they were adults. It was a very sad situation. As we take a look at what he has to say this morning I hope that we will take to heart the scolding that he gave them so that we can avoid a similar speech.
1. Baby food
a. He tells them that it was his desire to speak to them as spiritual men, but he found out that they were men of the flesh or immature Christians.
b. Because of their spiritual maturity level he was going to have to treat them like babies.
c. Do you like baby food? Now I am sure that it is nutritional stuff, but if on Thursday when everyone was sitting down to a turkey dinner I had placed in from of me a few Gerber baby food jars of such favorites like strained peas, mooshed squash, and ground turkey I would not have been happy!
d. Paul says to the Corinthians, I couldn’t even give you baby food, I could only give you milk! Now I know I would not have liked just getting milk!
e. A baby’s digestive system is not developed enough to even eat baby food in the beginning. They cannot handle it. They can’t digest it yet. They need to grow up before we give them French fries.
f. These people, although they had put their faith in Christ had failed to do what comes natural to baby Christians. They had not grown. They should have progressed to the point where they were learning about what it meant to be a Christian and to live like one. Their growth had been stunted and Paul had to start with them at square one because it was all that their maturity level in the Lord would allow.
Hebrews 5:12-14 (KJV)12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
g. The milk is identified as the gospel and putting their faith in Jesus Christ. It is a great place to start, the only place to start, but Christianity is so much more. Unfortunately many people never mature beyond that point. They never realize the power of the risen savior in their daily lives. A relationship with Jesus Christ has so much more to offer. To take advantage of it we must get past the milk and get to the meat. It is there where convictions are established and obedience is displayed.
h. Are you ready for solid food? Are you handling the milk OK?
2. Baby behavior
a. a. We may have said to our children, “if you are going to act like a baby, we will treat you like one”.
b. How do babies act?
i. When everything is going their way they are content and may even smile and coo.
ii. When they don’t get exactly what they desire they have one response, they cry!
iii. They have no concern for others. If you have been up with them all night and have to get up early for work they do not care about your schedule.
iv. They have only one person that they care about, themselves.
v. At their maturity level they are even incapable of caring for anyone else. That is why we excuse their rude behavior.
c. Paul says of the Corinthians that they were behaving badly. They should have grown up a bit but their responses indicated that they were still babies in the Lord.
d. While we excuse poor behavior in babies we can not do so forever! As our children begin to grow up some things that we put up with when they were infants are no longer tolerated.
e. It is not cute anymore when they:
i. Keep us up because they want to eat three times during the night.
ii. Throw their food on the floor.
iii. Need to be the center of attention.
f. Paul identifies two problems with the immature Corinthian believers that were not “cute” either. They were still acting “fleshly”.
i. There was jealousy. It means contentious rivalry. Always an indication of immaturity. They wanted what others had just like little children that don’t want something until someone else has it!
ii. There was strife. There was bickering and arguing among them. Mature believers are known for their spirit of unity and cooperation. Love for each other will be the identifying mark of the spiritually mature. Just the opposite is true for those who refuse to grow up in the Lord. Arguing over things for the sake of arguing is always a sign that some growing up needs to be done.
iii. He gives an example of what the rivalry and the arguing was over. They were claiming that the spiritual leader that they were following was the best. It reminds me of the arguing that little boys might do over who’s dad is better!
3. Adult answers
a. Paul says that you just don’t get it. It is not a competition. Christianity is not about one upping others. This may be how mere men might act, meaning men acting after the flesh, but it is not how spiritual men act!
b. There is to be a spirit of cooperation. What a wonderful thing it is to see when our children start to work together instead of competing and bickering.
c. Paul says that each person has a different ministry and that they should complement and build up each other.
d. Paul also points out that it is all for God’s glory. We don’t serve the Lord so people will look at us and say, you are fantastic! We serve the Lord so they will understand that God is fantastic!
e. Notice the agricultural picture that is presented. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but the increase was facilitated by God.
f. In this ministry we have people that plant and people that water. Both kinds of workers are necessary. For us to be effective we need more planters and more irrigators! It is not a competition.
g. This week we are putting on Bethlehem Blvd. It will take the cooperative efforts of many people from this church. We need people to work at it and people to invite others to come. We need you! We are not competing. We need to work together.
h. Our offering for expansion is another area where we need your cooperation. As a matter of fact we need to be together on everything we do here! What a wonderful experience it is when we all come together and serve the Lord as one.
i. Paul adds that even though we do things as one, there will be individual recognition. Understand that it is not the same way that the world recognizes success.
j. In the world there is only room for one at the top! There is a World Series champion, a Super Bowl champion, a collegiate national champion. It is about competition and there should be only one.
k. Paul says that each individual, although a part of the team effort, will be evaluated alone. One day you and I will stand before God separately, and we will give an account of how we served Him as part of the team.
l. Verse 9 tells us that we are on God’s team, His fellow workers. It is God’s field and building. There is no room for spiritually infantile behavior. The Church at Corinth was suffering because of it and so has every church that has had the same problem.
Conclusion: I hope we have a lot of baby Christians in this church because we are consistently winning people to Christ. They are allowed to be babies. We want that kind of babies. We must do our part to help them grow in the Lord and one of the ways we do that is to be a good example of what a mature Christian looks like. Hopefully none of us will have to be talked too like we are spiritual babies when we are old enough to know better!
What an exciting thing it is to be on God’s team. May we do the very best that we can so when it comes down to being evaluated the reward that we receive that is according to our efforts will be huge, and that God would receive all of the glory!
1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (NASB95)
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.