“God Wants Willing Workers, not Carnal Christians” A House Divided: Week 7 (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)
Even a baby doesn’t want to stay a baby. Babies don’t learn to walk and then stay sitting the rest of their lives. Sometimes in our faith, we begin a relationship with Jesus, then sit back down. At best, this is an indication of immature Christians who live for themselves…at worst, it is an indication that the person has not truly accepted Christ. So what are the signs and how can we make sure we are willing workers and not carnal Christians?
- Recognize and Reject the Traits of a Carnal Christian (1 Cor. 3:1-5)
– Carnal Christians are Genuine Believers Who Act Like Unbelievers (v. 1)
– Carnal Christians Lack Spiritual Maturity (v. 2)
– Carnal Christians Promote Disunity (v. 3-4)
- God Wants Willing Workers Who Serve Him for His Glory
– A Willing Worker Knows His Role and Does It (1 Cor. 3:6-7)
– The Willing Worker Will Receive Their Reward (1 Cor. 3:8)
He’s already told us the difference between the natural man, the unbeliever, and the spiritual man. He’s confessing this morning that though they struggle … “I know you’re not the natural man,” he says, “I know you’re not unbelievers. I see your belief. I was there for your belief, but I want to talk to you as a spiritual man or as a spiritual woman, but I can’t. So I tell you what I’m going to do.” He says, I’m going to create a new term. I’m going to talk to you as men and women of the [foreign 00:02:13]” It’s the Greek word for flesh, carnal, the physical things, the worldly things in the spiritual realm. It’s worldliness, it’s carnality, it’s acting just like the world does.
Paul says, “You’re acting like the world when you should be a mature believer. This is something God does not want, so let’s change it.” And he spends the rest of this passage, or the first nine verses of chapter three, helping them understand their carnality and hopes that they will not desire it any longer, change from it, and to show them the contrast between a carnal Christian, we’re going to use that term a lot today, and a willing worker.
So you can see the difference, let’s stand together and look at first Corinthians chapter three, starting in verse one. Paul says, “And I, brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual men,” meaning men and women, “But as to men of the flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food.” Meaning back then when I was there with you for 18 months, and that was okay because you were babies. “For you are not able to receive it,” meaning the solid food. “Indeed even now, you are not able. 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 for when one says, ‘I’m of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not acting like that mere men?”
“What then is Apollos and what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything but God who causes the growth.” Church, I would add to verse , “Is everything.” Verse eight, “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor, for we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” This is his word. Please be seated.
Carnal Christians serve themselves, but willing workers know their role and fulfill it for the glory of God in their service to him. My simple point today is it’s not complicated, that I want to walk with you throughout this message. Don’t be a carnal Christian. Be a willing worker. That’s not too complicated, is it? No, I know it’s not, but it’s not easy either. I know sometimes, we want to go back and forth, carnal Christianity, and then sometimes we go back over here to a willing worker. So what Paul does is help us this morning by exposing some of the traits of what it means to be a carnal Christian. First thing I want you to do this morning is I want you to recognize those, and I want you to reject those traits of carnal Christianity. And I want you to embrace the traits of being a willing worker.
So verses one through five, recognize and reject the traits of carnal Christianity. As we look to these first five verses, there’s one question I want you to ask. It’s not going to be an easy one, it’s not complicated either. Am I a carnal Christian? Am I a worldly Christian? Am I calling myself a Christian and living just like the world? It’s not easy because it’s hard to recognize in yourself, but it’s easy to recognize in somebody else. But I’m not asking you to recognize carnal Christianity in anybody else, because that’s easy. All of you are like experts at that, aren’t you? Just like I am. “Oh, he’s a carnal Christian or she’s a carnal Christian. Oh look, they’re doing things that should not be done by Christians.”
Don’t do that. Don’t worry about them. Let God worry about them. I’m asking you to worry about you. Teenager, young adult, senior adult. Ask yourself the question, “Am I reflecting the traits of the carnal Christians that Paul is describing in the Corinth?” And here’s the first thing he says about them, that Carnal Christians are genuine believers who act like unbelievers. This is a huge accusation and it’s the number one indicator that you need a revival, if you call yourself a Christian, but you spend a lot of your time acting like the world.
But look at me. Listen real close. Paul knew these believers. Paul was there for 18 months. It was a much smaller group than that’s even gathered this morning. He knew them by name. He could call them out and said, “I was there when you confessed Christ, I was there when you fell to your face. I was there and I saw your belief. I know you were a believer. Though this window of time that you’re in of carnal Christianity, God is calling you out on it. God is finding you out and he wants to change it in you.” But that’s them. Church, I don’t know you as well as Paul knew them.
If you’re sitting here today and you’re living in a lifestyle of unbelief before you put yourself in this category of carnal Christian and go, “Finally, there’s a category for me.” I want you to consider that your lifestyle of unbelief might just describe who you are. It just got real, didn’t it? If you’re living a lifestyle of unrepentant unbroken belief and just like the world and it’s not just a season, it describes your life, here’s the reality, you’re not a believer. You need to first ask yourself, “Am I reflecting the character traits of unbelief? Because I’m an unbeliever.” If so, repent and believe. But that’s a real option because carnal Christianity is not something that you own for a lifetime.
Some of you are relieved because you finally have a category and you’re like, “I’m okay with being a baby Christian. That’s me. I’m okay with being a carnal Christian. That’s me.” You’re not a believer, because salvation bends your heart towards God so that when you’re living a lifestyle of unbelief, it will crush you. It will break your heart to hear Paul describe you as a carnal Christian. It will rip out your soul to hear Paul describe you as an infant, because that’s not what a true believer wants to be. So if I’m talking to believers here today, this is some period of time that you might be in, but it’s only a period of time.
God will find you out and he will change you, and today, praise God, just might be the day where he exposes you and there’s nothing better that could happen to you. But at the same time think about, “Does this describe me? Because it is me.” See, they were Christians and they had salvation, but they didn’t really appreciate it. They had the Holy Spirit, but they didn’t always listen to him. They had heaven as their home, but they lived like this earth was their castle and the best life that they had to live for eternity was now. I could bring it into a modern audience for you today. They had the Bible. You might have the Bible, but you don’t read it. If you have the Bible and you read it, you don’t love it and you don’t apply it and you don’t hunger for it.
That could be you, the carnal Christian. Like children, they only cared about their physical desires and the lust of the flesh, the pleasures of this world. They did not consider others. That’s a sign of immaturity and the surely didn’t consider the will of God. The world around them fell into sexual immorality. So guess what they did in the Church of Corinth? They followed the world, they too fell into sexual immorality. They were influenced by social agendas. They were worried about worldly acceptance. They were more concerned about what the world had to offer than what God had to offer to them and through them. Simply put, they were immature. They weren’t healthy. Church, that’s not what God wants. He wanted to expose them so that’s what Paul’s trying to do and he starts talking to them, these carnal Christians, in terms they would understand.
The first term to describe their carnal Christianity where they were saying there were a believer, but acting like an unbeliever, was infant. This should be a belittling term for you as a Christian if it’s not true, meaning they were spiritually immature. They were supposed to be growing in their faith, but there were stagnant in infancy. But he also uses another term here, men and women of the flesh. This means male and female believers who are driven by the desires of the world instead of driven for the glory of God. They paid more attention to their physical needs and physical desires than they did their spiritual responsibilities. Therefore, caveat here, for a time the Corinthians looked like the world and claimed Christ.
Now church, this is a huge accusation. This is a problem. If it’s in you, it’s a huge problem. This is the accusation of hypocrite that you hear in our society all the time. And I get so tired of hearing hypocrite associated with the church, one, because many times it’s just not true. Two, because sometimes it is true. This is that conversation you might hear when you tell your friend that your other friend’s a Christian, and they go, “He’s a Christian? No, you must be talking about somebody else because that guy spends three nights a week at the bar with me getting drunk just like I do. I think the Bible says something about you not getting drunk.”
“No, not a Christian. I mean, last year I loaned this guy some money. He never paid me back and when I brought it up to them a couple of weeks ago, you know what he said? ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t think that’s a Christian. He laughs at all my racist jokes and he has some of the best jokes about women I’ve ever heard. And just last week I saw him just berate this poor waitress because she gave him the wrong amount of change in return on his check. You must be talking about somebody else. He can’t be a Christian. What was that? He’s a leader in your church?” You know the statement that comes next. “I’m not going there.”
I know there’s hypocrites in the church, and that sometimes we are one. But let that season be short and let the hypocrites, let God worry about them and you never let an accusation like that, a conversation like that, be levied against you. Stand up for what is right, represent Christ. Don’t be a carnal Christian. Have a desire to be a willing worker. If you sit here today and you say, “You know what? I recognize some of those traits, Pastor, of carnal Christianity in me.” There’s only one of two options. Either you’re an unbeliever and you need to repent and believe, or you have a couple of those traits of being a carnal Christian, and I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s good that you know it because then you can recognize it and once you can recognize it, you can start to remove it and recover from it and reject it from the future life that you’re living for Christ.
So for a season a carnal Christian will be a true believer, but look like the world. Number two, look at verse two. Carnal Christians lack spiritual maturity. Carnal Christians lack spiritual growth is another way to say it. Paul has already called them infants. That’s not a term of endearment, but then he describes that illustration. Verse two, he goes, “I gave you milk to drink.” Meaning, “In the past, when I was first there, and I gave you milk because you were a baby. I understand that. You weren’t able to receive the solid food. But now, a period of time later, you’re still not able to receive the solid food. This is not good.”
Paul’s basically calling them babies who were still on the milk when they should be digesting solid food. You know a baby, when it doesn’t have teeth, needs milk. That’s natural, but over so long a period of time, a baby starts to get on some rice cereal, some oatmeal, and they grow those little teeth and they get utensils and if you teach them how to use them, they can get on solid food, and guess what? Even feed themselves. But to see a 10 year old eating Gerber food out of a jar from his mommy, going to look a little strange.
Seeing a 12 year old nursing on his mother, going to look a little odd. Paul’s like, “Listen, I get it. You were a baby at one time, but you should be off the baby food by now.” I get my children’s attention sometimes when I bring up their immaturity on certain things, like they might be at the table and pouting about eating their vegetables or the meal that mom and dad made them, and I call him out on it, and I call them infants and I kind of mock it a little bit and they don’t like it. I’m like, “You want daddy to cut your vegetables?” And I pick up the fork and be like, [inaudible 00:15:38] “You want daddy to feed you?”
How do you think their respond? “[inaudible 00:15:42] feed me. I can feed myself. I’m a grown child.” You know what I say in response to that? Something like, “Well then act like it. Cut up your vegetables and eat it. If you’re such a big boy or a big girl, start acting like it.” Now this is going to apply to all kinds of things, mom and dad. I’m not saying you should belittle your children, but if they’re acting like babies, you can treat them like babies. Cleaning their room, and they’re sad attitudes, all kinds of things this can apply to.
Paul’s saying, “You need to wake up and stop being a baby Christian. I spent 18 months with you. I saw you birthed into Christ, and I come back and you’re still on baby food. This does not make sense.” Now, he’s talking about spiritual immaturity, but there’s some question. What is the milk of the word and what is the solid food of the word? And the bottom line is that Paul’s using it as an illustration to show them that they’re immature. So you can take that to the bank. But some people might say, “Maybe the milk is the basic Christian doctrines and the solid food are these more obscure passages, like the third heaven in the tribulation and all that stuff on the end of times.”
Let me be clear with you, that’s not what Paul’s talking about. Paul has already told them, “I desire nothing more than to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins to you.” That’s the gospel. See, Paul is not trying to show them the difference between obscure Christianity and basic Christianity. He’s trying to show them the difference between the gospel understood, don’t miss this, Church, and the gospel applied. Last week, Cody did a great job of the exposition of First Corinthians, the end of chapter two. And he helped us understand wisdom.
Do you remember how he described the wisdom to us in the word? Wisdom is not just knowledge, right? Anybody can have knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge applied. What Paul is talking to them about his gospel wisdom. Not just gospel understanding, but the gospel applied to their life is the solid food. They should have been applying the power of the gospel to the righteous lifestyle that they lived in caring for one another, but they had division among one another. They should have been ministering to the world around them, but they could only care about their own physical desires. They should have been taking the gospel that they understood and applying it by sharing it with others, but they weren’t doing any of these things.
Why? Because they were carnal. And like children, they only wanted what they want. They only wanted to satisfy their desires. Most of the New Testament is not about these obscure passages. That is not the meat of the word. In fact, people get so distracted about the obscure things of the scripture, when they miss the big thing in the scripture. It’s all pointing to the gospel. It’s all the gospel. It’s either explaining to you the basics of the gospel, the milk of the gospel, until you understand it, or it’s taken the time to apply the gospel to your life so that you can live it.
Paul says, “You’re not getting it. You’re immature.” You know, you can tell a lot about a man or a woman by what they eat. We love physical fitness in our society, and we like to say a man or a woman is what they eat, and that’s true to a sense physically. But I also believe it’s true spiritually. You can recognize a mature follower of Jesus Christ by their diet. What am I talking about? A mature follower hungers for the word of God. They dive deep into the depths of the gospel. They want it, they hunger for it, and they digest it.
They don’t get distracted by consuming empty calories from our fast food world. They don’t worry about worldly success, fame or prosperity. What they worry about is God’s will being accomplished in their life for his glory. This is a mature believer. The mature man can go to the convicting passages of scripture and let it call out sin in his or her life and not stomp their feet and whine immaturity, or make excuses. They can respond in humility and change their life according to the word. But a carnal Christian can’t hear it. A carnal Christian wants nothing to do with convicting passages of scripture. As soon as the scripture calls out something in their life, they either ignore the passage, make an excuse for it, or don’t address it all together.
See, a mature man will hold himself and control himself or herself. And on occasion, like I have before, when they do twist off and lose their temper or do something bad, they see it. They don’t ignore it, they don’t make excuses for it. They recognize it, they confess it, they repent of it, and they remove the behavior out of their life. Where the carnal Christian, and I don’t care how many times you see them in a church seat, when they’re called out by the Bible, or they twist off like they do on occasion, when somebody calls them out on it, what do they do?
Make up some excuse. “Well, he did this or she did that.” They try to cover it up and make excuses for it. Or worse yet, they deflect their mistakes on other people. So which are you, church? Are you a carnal Christian that carries the flag of Jesus and lives like the world? Are you staying in spiritual infancy, not hungering for the solid truth of the gospel applied to your life? Or are you a maturing believer? God wants you to be what you know he wants you to be. To reject carnal Christianity and move into a willing worker, mature Christianity.
Look at what else he says about Carnal Christians, verse three and four. Not only do they act like the world, not only did they stay in spiritual infancy, but also a carnal Christians promote disunity. This is a process. Eventually, if you’re living in carnality like the world, it’s going to call some division in your life because you’re going to say, “It’s all about me. I want it for me, me, me, me, me, me.” And when someone else doesn’t agree with that, you’re going to get mad at him. What’s that like? A toddler. That’s why he calls them babies.
I’ve had toddlers before and it’s pretty much the same. They can be sitting here, as happy as they can be, two and three years old, playing with their toy. They’re like, “Man, I really just love this toy. I’m having a grand old time.” But then they look up and they see your toy. Like, “Wait a second. Jealousy and strife. I want what he wants.” And so what do toddlers do? They get mad and they start crying about their toy and then they’re like my children have been, or like I was as a child. They’ll walk right over there. “Give me your toy,” and they take what you have because they’re jealous of what you have.
Now listen, I understand that in toddlers, that’s what toddlers do. They act like babies. They get jealous and they cause strife by taking what other people have, but it looks pretty silly to see it in the church. Just as silly as it looks to see a 12 year old nursing. But does jealousy find its way into the church? Yeah, it does. Sometimes we want what our neighbor has, the lifestyle, the money, the things, the whatever. When you see a truly jealous man or a jealous woman, here’s what it really boils down to. “They have what I want.” Or, “I want what I have only for me.”
That’s jealousy and it can lead to strife. Have you ever seen strife in the church over jealousy, getting frustrated about your preferences? The kind of music you like? The pet program that you love, the carpet color? I mean it could go on and on. Strife and jealousy in the church is a sign of spiritual infancy, spiritual immaturity. That’s not what God wants. This is Paul’s main issue in these first four chapters. “I want to talk to you as spiritual men, but I see strife and jealousy and it’s causing divisions among you.” And what was their divisions? Maybe not over carpet color, but something just as silly. They were dividing over church leaders and who was better.
Warren Wiersbe says they sound like preschoolers on the playground. Paul probably could say something like that too. “Yeah, you’re just like my cousin on the playground. My mommy’s better than your mommy. My daddy makes more money than your daddy. My daddy could beat up your daddy. I follow Paul. Well, I follow Apollos. Well, Paul is better. Apollos is better.” Paul’s like, “This is nonsense. Do you understand? You’re dividing over men that are on the same team.” Paul and Apollos had the same goal, to see unbelievers converted to faith, to see believers grow in their faith and to share the gospel. Paul says it makes no sense at all, and so he addresses it here.
4:1 says, “‘I’m of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I’m of Apollos,’ Are you not acting like mere men?” That’s what the world does. The world wants to promote their leader over your leader. That’s what politics is. Be more mature than that. Stand up for the issues, but don’t be so immature in how you respond to people, especially in the church. First Corinthians 3:5, he goes onto say, instead of this, “Nuh-uh, uh-huh, my daddy’s better than your daddy.” He goes, “Let’s talk about Paul and Apollos for a second. What is Apollos and what is Paul?” Look at his answer here. A great answer. “Who is taught? Who are you? Servants.” Paul says, “That’s all I am. I’m a servant. I don’t get the credit, I’m not the master. I don’t have the ideas. It’s not my message. I’m just a servant through whom you believed, by the way, as the Lord gave each opportunity to you.” Paul’s saying, “Stop being babies, dividing over men who are on the same team and stop giving credit to men where the credit is not due.”
All of these things the Corinthians were doing. Paul and Apollos were both servants, willing workers working towards the same goal, God’s glory through the proclamation of the gospel. They were mature men. They were men using their gifts so that God’s name could be made famous. This is going to help you, so listen. You can not only tell a mature Christian by their diet, you can tell a mature Christian by how they use their gifts. See, Paul and Apollos were mature Christians, they’re on the same team. They have the same goal. They’re using their gifts for God’s glory through the proclamation of the gospel. That’s what they were about.
Paul’s like, “We’re not going to get that confused, okay?” But immature Christians use the gifts that God has given them to bring them self attention and themselves glory. Oh, this is running rampant in our society today and this is going to help you if you would hear it. If you’ve got someone that you’re following, you’ve got someone that you’re listening to and they call themselves a mature believer, “I got this secret message for you. I got this special talent, this special ministry skill, and it’s only me that has it, and you have to come to me for it.” If you can see pride in them or they’re the ones making themselves famous, if they’re the ones that are getting the attention, that’s not a mature believer. Why are you following them and listening to them?
The spiritual gifts are given, as we will go in First Corinthians, chapter 12, and talk about later, they’re giving so that you can tell people they need a relationship with Jesus Christ, so you can show them the gospel so that God gets the glory. If you’re making yourself famous through spiritual gifts, you’re not a mature believer. You may not be a believer at all. But I digress, this is what you see in Paul, that’s what you see in Apollos. So I’m going to ask the question one more time. Are you a carnal Christian? Do you claim Christ and live like the world? Or, are you stuck in spiritual infancy and have become satisfied with that position?
`Are you causing and contributing to division? If so, either repent into belief for the first time, or recognize it, repent of it, and remove it from your life so God can start using you again. Don’t be a carnal Christian. Be a willing worker. That’s where moving to next, so if you want to be a willing worker, let’s go together to verses six through nine. Starting in verse six and seven. I begin this section by saying praise God that I don’t see carnal Christianity moving through our church like a wave in the ocean. I see a lot of willing workers. I know like you and like me, I’m like you, I may struggle with seasons of carnality, my desires, but I hate that.
But I see you, even if you struggle for a time, I see so many of you wanting to be and acting like willing workers. That’s why God is blessing us and using you. This is what Paul was, was a willing worker, and if we look at him, we can learn some things about willing workers. Number one, a willing worker knows his role and does it. Paul was not confused about his role in the Great Commission. Look what he says here in verse six. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God,” underline that, “But God was causing the growth, so neither the one who plants, nor the one who waters is anything but God.” Underline it again, “He causes the growth.”
There’s a couple of very important things here. Paul knew his role. We have this term in Christianity called church planter, we get it from Paul. That’s what he was. He went around city to city, fulfilling his part of the Great Commission, planting churches. The Great Commission says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” And Jesus says, “Don’t worry about it. Surely I will be with you always to the needy age.”
Paul knew that his contribution to the Great Commission was that of an evangelist, meaning Paul was the one that came to Corinth and said, “You got sin and that’s a problem. A sin is going to you separated from God for all of eternity because there’s consequences for the sin that you commit before a holy God.” He was the one that told them, “This is why God sent Jesus to solve your sin problem. See, Jesus didn’t have the sin problem on his own. He was a perfect man.” Paul told them, just like he tells you today, “Jesus lived a perfect life. He was the one that died on the cross so you could be atoned of your sin. Jesus is the one who died as your substitute, in your place, bearing all the wrath of God on himself when he died on the cross.”
He died on the cross and Paul told them, just like he would tell you today, “Three days later, he rose from the dead and you will be resurrected into a new life if you would believe.” And he would plead with them. This is the gospel message again and again and again. And he saw a many believe. But Paul says, “That’s my role, but it doesn’t make me better than Apollos. I’m the one who planted and God brought you to harvest, but then later I sent Apollos to you. By the way, I sent him.” I don’t know why they want to follow Apollos, they’re on the same team. And what did he say Apollos did? He watered. He says, “That doesn’t make Apollos greater than me or me greater than Apollos, we’re both servants.”
In fact, what he says next, he says, “Neither Paul or Apollos, the one who waters or the one who plants is anything.” Think about the impact of that statement. Paul the Apostle, the greatest Christian, arguably the greatest Christian, but for sure the greatest missionary in world history says, “I’m nothing.” Why does Paul say that? He bringing himself low to magnify the worthiness of God. I want you to notice the tense of these verbs, planted and watered, they’re in the past tense, it’s [foreign 00:31:54] in Greek and it simply means a occurrence that happened in the past, one time, that’s it. Paul planted, Apollos watered. But then I want you to notice the tense of the verb that’s associated with God. But God caused, is causing the growth verb here, it’s in the imperfect tense, which means continual action.
Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God is the one that is continually bringing the yield and the results. He’s turning the attention away from the man. The ones in Corinth that were doing this had no right to elevate Paul or Apollos to the status they were elevating them to. Paul says, “I’m noting. The one who gets the credit is God. God brings the results.” Church, I pray that you would get this, no matter what role you have in the church, you need to fulfill it, but then you need to trust God to bring the results. It’s not you that’s going out there and saving anybody. It’s not you that’s going out there doing such a good job. You are simply a servant to the master. He’s the one that determines the salary. Let him worry about your reward. He’s also the one that brings the harvest.
So willing workers know their role and they fulfill it and I believe God uses them because of it. There’s a woman in our society today that gets this, that wants to be used by God, and she’s a Christian artist. Her name’s Lauren Daigle. Anybody heard of her? Did I say that name right, Brendan? Okay. She’s wildly popular because she’s writing some of the greatest music in Christianity. She’s like number one on the Christian charts, but what’s amazing about Lauren Daigle is when her new album came out, Brendan, didn’t come out as number three on all of the Billboard charts? Number two, that’s unheard of. That’s crazy. She should be out there partying, celebrating her greatness. You know how she celebrated her greatness? She celebrated her greatness, I heard the story this week, by going into a prison and singing the hymns of faith to prisoners. Why? Because she wasn’t celebrating her greatness. It’s not her who achieved number two on the secular billboard charts. It was God and she knew that.
When you do something like that, when God uses you, who gets the glory? God gets the glory. She gets it, and I pray that you would too. Be a willing worker, not a carnal Christian. Also verse eight, I hesitate to say verse eight, but it’s here, so we’re going to talk about it. “The willing worker not only knows his role and fulfills it, but the willing worker will receive his reward.” Now, let me be clear, as a Christian, you’re not a willing worker so that God will give you the reward. You can’t look at it like that. That’s the wrong way to look at it. That’s a carnal attitude.
Be a willing worker in service to God because he’s God and you’re doing it for his glory. And then God in return will reward you. Don’t be asking what kind of reward it is, I don’t know. Don’t be seeking worldly fame, worldly prosperity, or worldly health. God does not guarantee that. I can not guarantee that. In fact, God’s probably going to take that from you if that’s what you want. But whatever it is that God gives you for being a willing worker, it’s good. Why? Because he is God and when he gives it, praise him for it. If he gives you money, give it to others. If he gives you fame, use it as a platform. Whatever he gives you, appreciate it, and even use the reward he gives you for the proclamation and the furtherance of the gospel.
That’s what a mature believer will do. So a mature believer will receive his reward. And finally, church, my call today is simple. Be a willing worker. Don’t be a carnal Christian. Recognize carnal-ness, worldliness, selfishness in yourself and remove it. I know it’s not easy. Sometimes I feel like I’m a schizophrenic on this subject. I feel like I’m like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You say, “Pastor, what do you mean by that?” Well, I’m just being honest with you. Sometimes I find myself as the spiritual man. I’m chugging right along, I’m doing good. I’m in the Bible, I’m praying, I’m sharing the gospel on the plane with people in other countries. And I’m taking the devotions home, and I’m doing with my children and it feels good.
And then I wake up and all of a sudden I think like a carnal man. I want what the world wants. I twist off on my kids. I don’t appreciate my wife. I lose my temper. I fall into a [drought 00:36:20] reading the word. I’m not active in prayer and I wake up and I look at myself and I’m like, “Who is this guy?” I know it’s hard. I struggle like you struggle, but all I’m trying to do today is to get you to recognize along with myself, the traits of carnal Christianity. When you see the carnal man, now listen to me. It’s going to sound aggressive, but it’s okay, kill him.
I’m talking when you see the carnal man come out in you, really put it on him. And if you have a spouse, have her crush him or her too. Seriously, ask for accountability. When you see the carnal man come out, be like, “Honey, just crush that in me.” Don’t give that headway at all. When you see it in your children and they’re believers, step on it. That’s when you drop the hammer of discipline, On the opposite, when you see the spiritual man in yourself, give way to it. Feed it. When you see it in your spouse, praise it. Oh, and for goodness sakes, church, if you see it in your children, I mean go out of your way. Make a big deal. Throw a party for the spiritual man that you see in your children.
Would you be willing to be a willing worker, or move towards a willing worker with me and to make the efforts for the sake of the gospel in this world, to leave carnal Christianity behind, to leave spiritual immaturity behind, to grow into the application of the gospel? Because you know what a child does? Even a baby doesn’t want to stay a baby, so why do you want to stay a spiritual infant? My children, as soon as they could reach up for the table, they were pulling glasses of tea and water on me. That very second they could push up and stand. “Look at me. I can stand.” And what do they do? They start walking. They didn’t stay a baby. They wanted to eat solid food. They wanted to walk. They wanted to run. They wanted to grow.
Be a hungry spiritual child of God and want that desire to grow. Ask God to give you the desire for the meat of the word. Do not be satisfied in spiritual infancy. Let’s walk out of here today with a desire to be a willing worker and not a carnal Christian. Plant the seed. Be Like Paul. Share the gospel. Maybe your gifts are more administrative or service oriented or leadership oriented. That’s okay, in the church, out of the church. Use those gifts for his glory. Maybe you need to water some seeds this week. Teach someone the truth of the word of God. Water them. Let’s walk out of here today looking more like Jesus and less like the world.
May 12, 2019