“Find a Spiritual Mentor” A House Divided: Week 12 (1 Corinthians 4:14-20)
We can’t get to where we want to be in our spiritual lives alone. If we want to grow, we not only have to find a mentor to invest in us, but we also have to find a person to invest into as a mentor.
- Look For A Spiritual Mentor (1 Corinthians 4:14-16)
- Practice Multiplication and Welcome Accountability (1 Corinthians 4:17-20)
Amen. If you have a Bible this morning, let’s turn one more week to 1 Corinthians chapter four. We’re going to be looking at verses 14 all the way through verse 20. This is going to finish out the fourth chapter of this book and, therefore, finish our series called A House Divided. Then, next week, we’re going to be starting a brand new series called The Christmas Story, not just another Christmas story, but the real Christmas story. It’s going to be exciting. There’s going to be drama. You’re not going to want to miss it. This week, we’re looking at spiritual mentors and their accountability. Paul calls himself in this particular passage their spiritual father. I was thinking back through my life this week, and I realize I’ve had several spiritual fathers. Not everybody who’s a man that’s a Christian that I know is a spiritual father to me, though I try to learn something from everybody, but I’ve had a few spiritual mentors before I was a Christian and I had the example of Christ lived out before me.
When I didn’t have that, it was my grandfather. I’d go over there every other weekend, and I would see him model Christianity for me in how he interacted with my grandmother, how he lived his life as a farmer and in the world, and in how he was kind to me and kind to everybody. Then, after I became a believer, I tried to put into practice these things that I saw in him. As I grew a little bit older and I started playing sports, it was a couple, two, coaches that really modeled for me what it looked like to be a Christian and what it meant to be a man in our society, and that was good. Then, when I started taking my faith even more serious, I did something that may sound a little crazy. I would look for men that I could be connected to that were desperately following Jesus. Sometimes it was a weird conversation. I would ask them if I could put myself underneath their leadership. That’s humbling, it is, but I’m telling you it’s worth it. Then, I would have them spiritually be a father to me, a mentor to me.
The different seasons of my life that changed, the spiritual mentors looked a little different. Even today, I have a spiritual mentor, and I call him, and I ask him, “Hey, how would you do this? Or what did this look like in your particular church?” It’s helpful for me. I’ve taken it a step further. The last many years of my life, I’ve also taken what God’s taught me through other people and from his word and I always try to have somebody not only that is mentoring me but that I’m also mentoring. Spiritual mentoring is for you, but then it’s also meant to pass through you. We get to see this on a rare occasion in Paul’s life. Here in this passage of scripture, he is claiming spiritual fatherhood over this particular church, and he can do that because he’s an apostle. He can say, “I’m your spiritual father. Now, listen to me.” It reminds me that as Paul was to the Corinthians and as Timothy was to the Corinthians, we also need spiritual mentors like this in our lives. Let’s take a second and read this passage.
Stand with me. 1 Corinthians chapter four starting in verse 14. Now, I want to tell you Paul just finished what I call hammering them. Then, he says in a transition, “Now, I don’t write these harsh things to shame you,” although I’m sure they were ashamed of themselves, “but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore,” listen to this, “I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of the ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some of you have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power,” meaning their real power. “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” This is God’s word. Please be seated.
I realized this week, and I’ve known this for a long time, that we were never meant to walk this Christian thing by ourselves. Yes, we follow Christ, but as Christians, we should be following and welcoming both spiritual mentors into our life and their accountability. The question I want to ask from the very beginning, we’re going to work through this and maybe what this person should look like, but: Who is your spiritual mentor? Do you even have one? If you don’t have one, I want to tell you real quick you need to get one. I love what Paul’s doing here. He’s just gotten onto them pretty hard, but in transition, he says, “Listen, I’m not saying these harsh things to you to shame but to admonish you because you’re my beloved children.”
This is classic parent move, isn’t it? You know, when your mom and dad or maybe even grandma and grandpa, if they were so bold, when they take you into the back room and they smack that hiney and it’s stinging. Right in the middle, when they’re smacking your hiney and it’s stinging a little bit, they go, “Now, honey, I’m not doing this to hurt you.” You’re like, “What?” “I don’t want this to hurt you.” “It hurts.” “I’m doing this to change you.” Why? “Because I love you.” Then, they say that crazy thing. What do they say? “This is hurting me more than it’s hurting you.” You’re thinking, “No, it’s not. Does your butt sting right now? Because mine does.” Turns out that’s true. Your parents hurt you, if they’re not abusing you, when they spank you or when they discipline you. Why? Because they love you. Paul says, “I don’t do it to try to squash your spirit. I don’t literally want my words to damage you. I want them to warn you and awaken you to the reality of you hurting yourself.” The word here in English is admonish. It’s a great word. In the Greek, it means literally to warn somebody about their misconduct.
Paul wants them to see what they’re doing wrong so that the behavior is corrected. That’s why your parents discipline you. They don’t want to hurt you. They want you to change the path that you’re going because that path can hurt you. Paul’s already warned the church here. Listen, if you’re dividing, if you’re causing division, if there’s sin in your life, he says this is like a ripple effect. It’s not just concerning you. Do you remember what he told us last week and even a couple weeks ago? You’re actually hurting the body around you. That comes with a warning because Paul says on behalf of God, God says to you, “If you hurt my church, my bride,” what does he say? “I will hurt you.” Paul’s warning them that as they continue to follow this path, this misconduct, this division, whatever they’re getting distracted by, it’s not only hurting those around them but it’s eventually going to come back on them. Church, we need spiritual mentors in our life that we let in to this particular place, this inner circle that we allow them to speak into us not to hurt us but admonish us, to call out the misconduct when God shows it to them so that we change that so we continue to honor him.
Paul says, “I am your father.” He was their spiritual father. Look what he says in verse 15. He says, “You’re going to have countless tutors in Christ, yet not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” Church, you’re going to have lots of teachers in your life. A lot of people are going to hold that worthy title as teacher, instructor. That’s a great title. You need people. You can learn from believers and unbelievers. You can learn at school. You can learn at home. In fact, there’s probably something you can learn from everybody that you’re around whether it’s something to do or something not to do, but you’re not going to have hordes and hordes and hordes of spiritual mentors. Paul’s saying that’s a reduced number of people. Paul says, “I am one.” He’s an apostle. He can claim himself that. He planted this church. He saw most of them come to faith, but you may have more than one. For some of you, you grew up in a blessed home and your spiritual father might be your dad. Your spiritual mother might be your mother. That’s good. That’s what we want, but it’s probably not just going to be your parents, especially if they’ve passed on.
It can be your parents but sometimes you don’t, even if they’re alive, you don’t always want to share everything with your mom and dad. There’s people in your life that you want to be able to speak to, that you can be open and honest with and get an answer from God back into your life from. You need spiritual mentors, but just because it’s a limited number of people, it also doesn’t mean it’s nobody. You need to kind of interview people. I’m not saying you sit down behind a desk and say, “Please give me all your credentials to be my spiritual mentor.” No, that’s weird. Don’t do that. You can interview them by observing them. You can watch their life and see how they treat their spouse and how they treat their children. You can listen to the words that they speak in the church, sure, but that’s easy. We’re all nice and good at church. Listen to their words that they speak outside of church. How do they interact with their coworkers? You want to look for a spiritual mentor that you can observe their life and follow them.
At the same time, you don’t want to make that list so stringent and so perfecting that it ends up being nobody and then you say something really ludicrous like this, “Well, I guess I just can’t find anybody to be my spiritual mentor.” No, that’s wrong too. You’re just not looking hard enough. You’re not looking for the perfect person. Even Paul who’s claiming spiritual authority in their lives, he says in other passages of scripture, “I am the chief of sinners.” You need to find somebody. By the way, I can’t give you a list. I can’t say, “Here’s your list. I’m going to pass it out. Photocopy it. Here’s the list that you look for every single time for every single person.” No, I don’t know what stage you’re in. I don’t know what life stage you’re going through. I don’t know exactly what you need from a spiritual mentor, but I can tell you this. Look at verse 16. If they can say this, they’re probably on the right track. They’ve got to be able to say verse 16 with integrity, honesty, but also humility.
What does Paul say? He says, “Therefore, as your spiritual father, I exhort you to be imitators of me.” Now, church, I know what that sounds like when you hear it. You’re like, “That sounds arrogant. A person would never say that.” Paul’s not being arrogant here. Other places he clarifies what he means like in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. He says, “Be imitators of me as I imitate Christ.” That’s what he means. He is not trying to be arrogant, but he is confident in his relationship with Jesus. He knows that he’s not perfect, but the path that he’s following, he’s trying to follow as he’s following Jesus. You’re not looking for a perfect person. You’re looking for someone who can imitate Christ that you can follow as they imitate him. Now, they may never even say this. In fact, they’re probably not going to come to you and say, “Would you follow me as I follow Jesus?”
You look at their life and you want to say something like, “If they did say that, I would believe them. If they did say that, I wouldn’t see it dripping with pride or arrogance. If they did say that, I would believe them and I would follow them. The path that they were walking, if I followed their path, I know it would not lead me away from Jesus into sin or, worse yet, lead me into sin and maybe even prison, but that would lead me to him.” The first qualification that you need to look for as a spiritual mentor is that they’re a Christian, but not just a Christian, they’re a faithful follower of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Look for that individual. If you’re a guy, look for another guy. If you’re a woman, look for another woman who is desperately following Jesus. The path that they walk, if you follow them on it, would lead you to him, not even just to them. That person you look at and say, “You know what? When I grow up, I wouldn’t mind being like them.”
Every time I preach a passage of scripture like this, I’m reminded of my grandfather. I mentioned him earlier and every time I preach a passage of scripture like this, I try to pull out these old boots. Now, most of the time I actually put them on because these are my grandfather’s boots. He was born in 1917. Every year that I saw him as I was growing up, he’s been dead for a long time now, I saw him with these boots on. Now, they’re made out of lizard skin. I was afraid if I put them on today I would split them, but I pull these boots out for a reason. I put them on this morning for a reason, to remind me that he was that person in my life before I was a believer and long after I was a believer and long after he was gone and dead that I try to follow his example. If I was walking in his shoes, that would be a path worthy of walking upon. Who is that for you is my question.
See, my grandfather, I would observe him. Growing up, I wanted to walk in his shoes. After I became a believer, I literally wanted to put my feet where his feet were in his faithfulness to his church, in his faithfulness to his family. My grandpa would always be in church on Sunday. His reason was because the doors were open. That’s not a good reason to be in church. “I’m there every time the doors are open.” What does that mean? Would you even want to be there? That’s not a good enough reason. No, he wanted to be there and he knew the reason he was there when the doors are open is because he desired that relationship and that accountability and what he could both give to the church that God told him to and what the church could give and invest into him. See, I wanted to follow his example of not only how he was faithful to the Lord and faithful to his church family, but I also look at his life and I watch his steps that he walked when I was a child. I say I want to be like that in how he was kind to people, how he was generous people. Those are literally things that I can walk in his shoes and be proud of.
I remember when I was just a child and I was staying with grandma and grandpa. I guess there was this hitchhiker out on the highway. Grandpa brought him in for lunch and treated him just like he was one of his friends. To give you some context here, this wasn’t I-20. This is a highway called 765 about five miles outside of Eola, Texas. Anybody know where Eola is? Nobody. It’s a little town. Hey, back there. Little town in West Texas about 20 to 30 miles outside of San Angelo. It’s in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know what he was doing hitchhiking out there. A car wouldn’t come by but like once every 10 minutes. Anyways, he brought this man in and fed him lunch with us. I’m not saying you should do this. The world’s crazy today, but this is what he did. He had lunch with us. I can still remember the cantaloupe that was on the table. He treated him with kindness. He treated him with respect. I don’t know what all my grandpa gave that man that day, but I know he gave him a warm meal and he gave him the best had that he had from the gin. That’s a place where you process cotton. He treated him kindly and he sent him on his way.
That’s the kind of shoes that I could put on and know that I’m following the path that Jesus would want me to be on. I want to follow him and imitate him as he imitated Christ in how he treated his wife, my grandmother. Not one time did I see him lose his temper. Not one time did I see him not show patience. I’m sure he did. I didn’t see it. I want to model that in my own family. Do I always get it right? No, but this is what I’m striving for. I can follow him. I’ve got lots of stories, church, about not only my grandpa but other spiritual mentors and how I could literally follow those steps that they walked knowing that I’m following Jesus. I’ve seen it in my life, but Tammy’s the same way. She said I could share this story.
When we came Ennis, she thought that she was going to be alone and feel alone like she had before. Very early on, she found a lot of good friends, but there was this one woman who started being a spiritual mentor to her very early on, even came to our house, even helped us pack up to bring us here. Since then, when she’s had a spiritual need or a prayer request, she could go to this woman and get advice from her, but also she said, “I can imitate her,” almost exactly what Paul says here, “because I know that she’s imitating Jesus.” Even recently, she went to her and got some spiritual advice. That’s our story. I just tell it to you as way of illustration. Whose shoes, whether they’re big or small, do you need to fill? Whose path do you need to follow? Yes, Jesus, but who in your life is your spiritual mentor that is going to pour into you? That’s a great question.
If you don’t have an answer to it, I’m pleading with you today. Find that person. Find that person and say, “Will you pour into me?” It’s not just that, is it? See, for some of you seasoned Christian veterans out there, not only you may have already had spiritual mentors. Not only do you need a spiritual mentor, but you need to be a spiritual mentor to somebody else. I hear too many times from my senior adult friends when they say things like, “I just don’t know if God has a use for me anymore.” Here’s what they mean by that when you dig down a little deeper. “I can’t work as hard or as long as I used to. My health is failing me and I get tired quicker. I feel like I don’t have as much time. Maybe it’s just as much energy. I know I don’t make as much money so I can’t give like I used to give. I just don’t know if I have a purpose.” Let me encourage you today if that’s you. You can still do the most important thing that God has given you to do. You can still be a disciple maker. You can still be a spiritual mentor and invest in what God’s given you into others.
Now, I know what you’re thinking right away, whether you’re senior adults or not, and I’m sitting here talking to you about being a spiritual mentor. You say, “I’m not qualified.” Well, neither was Paul. He says, “I’m the chief of sinners.” All you have to do to be qualified is be desperately following Jesus. I didn’t say you have to be perfect, but be following Jesus and I promise you if you’ve been desperately following Jesus for a number of years at home and at work, you have lessons. You have life lessons that you need to pour into somebody else that doesn’t know what it’s like to take Jesus to work. They just know how to go there to make money. That’s part of growing. They don’t know what it’s like to let Christ reign in their household because they didn’t have an example. They need your example and they need you to show them. God has a purpose for you. I promise you one of them is to be a spiritual mentor to somebody else when you’re ready.
Now, church, you can’t let everybody be your spiritual mentor. Not everybody’s ready. Not everybody’s qualified, but do they follow Jesus is the question. My question for you if you’re considering being a spiritual mentor: Do you follow Jesus? Say, “Pastor, how do I do it? That’s what I look for, that’s what I should be, but how do I do it if I’m going to be a spiritual mentor?” I would say try to do it like Paul does. Some of you may be thinking, “I guess I got to go out there. It’s got to be the finger guy or the finger girl. All I do is point out sin in their life.” That’s what you see Paul doing here, but that’s not the full context and the nature and the relationship that he had with the Corinthians. He lived with them. He fellowshiped with them. He showed grace to them. He was their friend. He knew them. Most of the time being a spiritual mentor, you’re just there with an ear offering encouragement and support and blessing them with your faithfulness. Yes, on occasion after much prayer and after God has showed it to you, you’re not looking for it, you’re not going through their house looking for sin, but it’s as it’s revealed, the sin in their life, yes, then you admonish them and warn them.
I tell you most of the time what they need is they need your support, they need your grace, they need your faithfulness, and they need your example. They need your friendship. Don’t let stress you out. Just start doing it and God will show you the way, but I will tell you this. Like everything else in your life, if it includes another person, you can follow the golden rule of mentoring. The golden rule in anything in your life, what is that? Treat other people the way what? You’d want to be treated. If you’re being a spiritual mentor, this is going to clear up a lot of the confusion for you. Spiritually mentor them as you would want someone to spiritually mentor you. You need to give to them the things that you need from Christ. Now, you’re not Christ for them. You’re just modeling Christ to them. Get a spiritual mentor. Be a spiritual mentor. If you have not made that commitment, one or the other, do so today. I always try to have somebody in my life that is mentoring me and somebody in my life that I am mentoring.
Here’s the reality that I kind of glossed over and I want to come back to it for a second. If you’re here today, the thing that you need the most, even more than a spiritual mentor, is a relationship with Jesus. If you’re here today and you say, “You know what, Pastor? I’m here. I’ve never trusted in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I’ve kind of just been doing this church thing. I don’t remember a time where I said, ‘Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for me and you rose from the dead,'” admitted that you’re a sinner and pleaded with him for forgiveness of your sin. If you’ve never felt that call in your life, you never made that decision to follow Jesus, that’s what you need first and foremost. Let’s say you go out this week and you’re not a Christian and you find a spiritual mentor. Okay. I’m not going to argue that too much, although you desperately need Jesus, but here’s the first question you ask them, “How do I follow Jesus?”
See, once you follow Jesus and he’s your Savior, then you’ll know how to follow them as they what? As they follow him. If you’re a follower of Christ and you’re in his word and he’s your chief aim, he’s your focus, you’ll also notice in their life when they stray from Christ, you’ll see it, and therefore you just start following Jesus without them. As they follow him, then you follow them as they follow him. When they don’t, you don’t. Does that make sense? Know Christ, get a spiritual mentor, maybe spiritually mentor somebody else. Paul doesn’t stop there. He gets right to work. I love it. After he claims spiritual authority in their life, look at what he does in verses 17 through 20. He starts giving them accountability through the letter. He’s doing this thing called multiplication. I want to encourage you today from these verses. Practice multiplication and welcome accountability from the spiritual mentor that you are or the spiritual mentor that you’re asking to be in your life.
What I love maybe the most about verses 17 through 20 is that Paul shows the results of generational discipleship. Look at what he says in these verses. Who does he say I’m sending to you? He mentions a new name here. “I’ve sent to you Timothy.” Let me help you understand what Timothy is. Timothy is Paul’s spiritual son. He’s not Paul’s birth son. He’s the one that he is spiritually mentoring. Now, Timothy, if you’ll learn in 2 Timothy chapter one, he had a grandmother and a mother that showed him the faith. Now, we don’t know what happened when Paul came into his life. Either he clarified the salvation he already learned from them or from what they taught him, he led him to faith in Christ. Either way, Paul was that one that came into Timothy’s life and was a spiritual father to him.
How’d it work? Well, he actually put his arm around Timothy, started showing him the truth of the scriptures, and then he actually brought Timothy along with him. He’s basically saying, “Timothy, as I follow Christ, you follow me. Observe my life.” He took Timothy with him on all these missionary journeys early on. In fact, he spent two years with Timothy in Ephesus and all of Asia Minor. He didn’t just stop there. He didn’t just say, “Okay. You’re going to stay with me forever.” When Timothy was ready, what did Paul do with Timothy? He multiplied him. He said, “Now Timothy, not only am I taking you to Ephesus with me and you’re learning from me,” but Timothy actually became the pastor of that church and possibly other churches. Not only is Paul saying, “I’m your spiritual mentor to the Corinthians,” he is sending Timothy on his behalf.
Paul came to know Christ. Paul probably also had a spiritual mentor. Likely, we believe it was Barnabas, at least an encourager. Then, Paul passed on the faith to his spiritual disciple, his spiritual mentee, if you will, Timothy. Then Timothy took what he learned from Christ through Paul and he multiplied it to Ephesus and to the Corinthians. Then, the ones that he discipled, guess what they did. They passed on the faith to somebody else. They taught them to disciple somebody who discipled somebody who discipled somebody. You see where I’m going with this? Church, this is called multiplication. This is called multiplication through generational discipleship. Listen to me real clearly. This is the only way we’re going to survive. We’re not going to survive by just building new buildings, although we’re going to build one, and by having these electric services where everybody feels good, that’s good too, I don’t mind that, and then just leave it at that.
That’s not even Biblical if we do that alone. We have services, we’re engaging with people, we build buildings so that when people come, we pour the gospel into them and, like I’m doing with you now, expect the gospel to flow out from them. If we’re not doing generational discipleship, if we’re not creating multiplication, this thing won’t work. I don’t want to just be here with a lot of people in 2018 and 2019 and through the rest of my life. I want there to be a legacy of faith that is multiplied through generations for decades and decades and maybe hundreds and hundreds of years in Ennis because of what Christ started before us, put in us, and that we’re passing on to others. It’s not going to happen by accident. Generational discipleship is intentional.
You need to either find a mentor, and if you already have one, find someone to pour your faith into. Every time I meet with another man that I’m mentoring, the conversation we have on the very first day is that I’m expecting him to take what he’s learned, what we’re learning together, I’m not acting like you’re putting yourself over anybody. Every time I mentor or disciple somebody, I’m learning something along with them, but I encourage them from day one, you’re now going to take what you learn here, and you’re going to pass it on to someone else. You’re going to teach them to pass it on to someone else because Paul did that with Timothy. Fast forward 2000 years, it’s the reason that we’re here today. That’s how it works. I pray that you would both see Paul do that and you would follow his example.
What did Paul offer to them? He offered to them not only this example of generational discipleship, but he offered them accountability. I call it gospel accountability. Look at what he says here. He says, “I’m sending Timothy to remind you of my ways which are in Christ.” Paul’s not just saying, “I’m telling him to remind you of what I do. I’m telling him to remind you of what I do as Christ does it in me.” Then, he said earlier, “I’m a father to you through,” what? Through the gospel. What Paul wanted to happen in this church was gospel accountability. Say, “Pastor, what’s gospel accountability?” Well, you need to realize that we’re accountable to the gospel not only to believe it. We’re accountable to the gospel that it is our power source or living, not your great morality, but we’re also accountable to God for the gospel and sharing it.
How does that work? Well, just think about the gospel, the life of Jesus Christ lived on your behalf, his atoning death on the cross, his resurrection that allowed you to have access to salvation, and his glorification. That’s a great thing that needs to be constantly revolving around in your mind and that you use as a tool for discipleship. That’s what Paul is saying here. I want you to follow my life as I live it the way that Jesus lived it. If you’re a spiritual mentee today looking for a spiritual mentor, this is the kind of mentor you want, someone that is going to teach you how to live a life, not that gets you rich, not that makes you successful in this world. Those are okay byproducts, but you want a mentor that teaches you to live like Jesus lived, like Paul lived. That’s what Paul means when he says, “In Christ, I live my life like Christ lived.” Paul followed the life Jesus lived because Jesus lived a life, listen to this, for us to follow, not just to read about in the gospels and say, “Man, that is a cool life.”
It was a cool life. He did lots of great and amazing things, but the reason it’s recorded four different times in four different ways is that we would learn from it and we would follow the example of Jesus. If you’re mentoring somebody else and you say, “How do I do it?” Teach them to live a life like Jesus lived his life. Think about the way Jesus lived his life and his faithfulness to God. Teach them to live that same way. Teach them to have a prayer life like he had a prayer life. Teach them to know the scriptures like he knew the scriptures. Don’t give the answer, “Well, he was God.” Yeah, he was God, but he practiced spiritual disciplines. Teach them to interact with conflict the way that Jesus interacted with conflict. Teach those you’re disciplining to live a life like Jesus lived. That’s what Paul is always saying. Follow me as I follow Christ. How Jesus interacted with the hardhearted, how Jesus followed all aspects of his life for the glory of God, these are the ways that we disciple others and how you should be expected to be discipled by your mentor.
It’s not just the life that he lived. That’s just one part of the gospel. What about the death that he died? How does that relate? Well, that’s your motivation for righteous living, not manipulation, not fear, not guilt. The motivation for your righteous lifestyle should be what Jesus accomplished for you on the cross. That is your power source. In fact, you need to look at it as that’s how you’re made righteous before God, not the things that you do right or the things that you do wrong. It’s what Jesus did on your behalf. It’s the life that Jesus lived, it’s the death that he died, and also the resurrection and the glorification of the Lord are things that you have access to and will benefit from as you spend eternity worshiping him in heaven. It’s gospel accountability is what Paul was offering to this church in Corinth, but he mentions one thing here as we end together.
Look at verses 18 through 20. There’s one thing that he wants to warn them of that he’s done and he’ll do it again and again and again that will damage your ability to have gospel accountability. It’s pride. Verse 18, he says, “Some of you have become arrogant.” That means prideful. Then, he adds a comment to that, “Like you think I’m not going to come check on you.” Talk about accountability. I’m telling you what to do, and one day I’m going to show up. I’m going to knock on your door and be like, “How’s it going?” That’s a great spiritual mentor is what that is. Then, he goes on in verse 19, “I’m going to come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out.” It’s almost a threat. Not the words of those who are arrogant, not their lip service, but their power. See, the kingdom of God, in verse 20, does not consist of just words but in power.
Church, self-reliance is not at the heart of gospel living. We must welcome gospel accountability, but we must also all along the way fight pride. See, when Paul came to visit the Corinthian church, he didn’t want to show up and hear a lot of talking about how good they were doing, about how faithful their lifestyle was. He was going to come and he was going to observe their attitudes, their actions through their behavior. See, when Paul came, he was a lot more concerned with what was on the inside than what was coming out of the mouth on the outside. I want to tell you God cares about the same. It’s not about the words that you speak or even the actions that you play. It’s about the heart of the matter on the inside. Church, as you’re walking through life, you need to let your spiritual mentor, you need to let gospel accountability deal with you in here because if deals with you in here and it changes something in you, it will be reflected out there for the world to see.
This hit me right in the face this week. I’m just going to be honest with you. I’ve been under a little bit of stress these last couple weeks. It’s a joyful stress, but it’s still stress. I’ve been worried about this transition. I really have. I mean, it’s been keeping me up at night. Are we ready? Is it going to be ready? If I announce on December 9 we’re going to have a ribbon cutting, will we be able to walk into that building on December 9? I’ve been worried about are we going to be ready for the growth. I want to tell you, church, I’ve been and we’ve been doing things. We’ve been changing things. We’ve been changing how we’re going to do in the order of children’s worship, the programming. We’ve been changing the check-in process. We’ve just changed our whole database system to make us more able to be better at doing all the things that we need to do. We’re working on a church app. I probably shouldn’t have told you that, but there it is. We’re working on better online giving processes.
I’m talking thing after thing and process after process. I’ve had it all on my desk. We’ve been working hard. This week, I finally just said, “God, I don’t think I can do anymore.” I’m still worried whether it’s going to fail or not. I don’t know if I can do anything else. I feel like we’re doing all that we can do. Yet, I’m still worried. Is it going to work? Are they going to come? And all this. It wasn’t audible, but it was as loud as I’m talking to you today. Through my wife even, you know what God said? He says, “You’re right. Yeah, you can’t do anymore.” Then, I was reminded of all the things that I can’t do that he can do. After I exhausted all of my external words and all my external powers and all these ideas, we’re going to do those things, I think he wants us to do those things, but after all that, I was reminded there’s still some things that only God can do.
Tam and I committed for 365 days of prayer. I realized that the most important thing that I can do in this transition is just pray, pray that God would bring the people that he wants to bring to this building for his glory, not that we can just have them and count them as a number, so that we can disciple them for him so they can disciple others for him. I want to challenge you this morning as we get ready for that transition. I need your prayer partnership. I know it’s a specific thing. It’s not too far off task here. That internal matter of going to God with the issue is more important, the most important, than the external matters that I’ve been worried about. Would you partner with me in a year of prayer as we make that transition that God would do with it what he wants to do?
Here’s by way of my illustration your application. What are you trying to handle on your own in your life? What do you got going on in a family situation, in a financial situation, at home or at work that you would say maybe you’re exasperated like I was this week? You’d say, “I just can’t do it anymore. There’s nothing else I can do.” Would you let God tell you this morning you’re right? You can’t handle that loss on your own. You can’t handle that stressful situation with that person on your own. You can’t handle that financial situation on your own, that school situation, that work situation. You can go through it in your own mind, whatever that situation is. You can’t do it all on your own. You’ve exhausted your abilities. Would you deal with the internal issue of letting God worry about it for you? Then, whatever he does with it, you’re going to be okay with after that amount of prayer because you’re going to know that’s what he wanted because I’ve been faithful in praying about it.
See, that’s the kind of spiritual mentor you need. You need the kind of spiritual mentor in your life where you come to them with an issue like this, whatever struggle, and they don’t tell you something like, “You know what? You just do what you think is right. You do it just the way that makes you happy, and we’re going to love you anyway.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? But that’s not the kind of spiritual mentoring that Paul is offering to this church. It’s much more in a deep situation than that. That’s not the kind of spiritual mentor you need, and that’s not the kind of spiritual mentor you need to be to others. Find a spiritual mentor this week if you would or the next couple weeks, before the new year, that you’re going to let on the inside, the internal circle. You’re going to welcome their accountability. Make sure they’re qualified and ready, yeah, but get one. If you don’t have someone you’re pouring into, find someone you can pour into. Don’t point them to you. I know you wouldn’t do that, but I’m going to say it anyway. Don’t point them to you. Point them to Christ through you. Would you welcome accountability? Because we all need it, so that gospel accountability doesn’t change just what you say you’re doing but it changes what you really believe on the inside.
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