Sit Down & Be Humble (1 Corinthians 4:14-21)

March 5, 2023

Series: 1 Corinthians

Thank you. Good morning, church. Good morning, church. All right. Before I do anything else, I have to apologize to you guys. Last week, I told you guys the highs would be in the low 70s. The lows would be in the mid 50s, and it’s blazing hot. So it seems like you guys keep up with the weather forecast. Got your umbrella and everything, so that’s great. But I’m super grateful to be before you guys today to preach the Word. I’m excited for what we’re going to be talking about today. Let’s go ahead and turn our Bibles to 1 Corinthians 4. While you guys are turning there, last week, Eddie did a great job. Eddie did such a phenomenal job talking about grace. We cover so much. A couple of big takeaways for me were how we are God’s temple. The day that we made Jesus the Lord of our life, when we were baptized into Christ and received his Spirit, we each became God’s temple in which his Spirit dwells. Not only that, but we as a body together, we too are God’s temple. That’s one of the first things that I took away. Another thing that I also loved that Eddie mentioned that the church belongs to God.

This is God’s church. Sometimes we can make church about us, about what we want or what we want to see, and we remove God from the equation, but the church belongs to God. And we also got to see that the worldliness of the Corinthian church really hurt Paul. To see all the things that the Corinthian church put him through and throughout his letter, we see him pouring out his heart to the church about their actions and the way that they have been living. And it’s super clear to see how Paul was feeling. So today I’ll be picking up where Eddie left off. And the title for today’s sermon is sit down, be humble. All right, sit down, be humble. Let’s first begin in verse 8 of 1 Corinthians 4 to review last week’s text. In verse 8, it says, Already you have all you want. Already you’ve become rich. You’ve begun to reign in that without us. How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we might also reign with you. For it seems to me that God has put us Apostles on display at the end of the procession like those condemned to die in the arena.

We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, we are dishonored. To this very hour, we go hungry and thirsty. We are in rags. We are brutally treated. We are homeless. We work hard with our hands, when we are cursed, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it. When we are slandered, we answer kindly. We’ve become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world, right up to this moment.

Now, we’re going to go into the verses we’re going to focus on today, starting at verse 14. Paul says, I’m not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had 10,000 guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you, Timothy, my son, whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees to what I teach everywhere in every church.

Some of you have become arrogant and it’s as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon if the Lord is willing. And then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit? So we started off in verse 8, and we see up until verse 12 the hurt that Paul is experiencing. I’m sure that we all can understand that when we truly love up on someone else, when we love one another and we would reveal our hearts to one another, this is when we are the most vulnerable to being hurt. We’re the most vulnerable to hurting one another. But as many of us know, the rewards of vulnerability far outweigh the risk. Jesus is the ultimate example of this. But you see in his pain, Paul, he begins to use sarcasm with the Corinthian Church. And as Eddie pointed out last week, we could tend to use sarcasm as a coping mechanism to mask some of the hurt or insecurities that we may feel.

And Paul here, he uses sarcasm in response to how the Church has been conducting themselves. He says, We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ. We’re weak, but you’re strong. You are honored, we are dishonored. Paul even says in Verse 13, We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world. To say all these different things that Paul is saying, you have to feel a lot. He’s going through so much, but he goes on to explain his response to them. In verses 14, he says, I’m not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children. You see, we get a clear tone and we have a better understanding of what Paul was trying to do. He points out that his sarcasm isn’t to shame them or to belittle them or make them feel less than, but is to warn them. And what Paul is warning the Corinthians Church of is their pride. And we see up to this point in the letter, we see how Paul says that he couldn’t even address them as those who live by the Spirit, but as those who are still worldly.

And we see Paul reminding them to what they were called to when they decided to make Jesus the Lord of their lives. He calls for them to have the mind of Christ. Now, Paul, he begins to warn them here and in other versions, it says admonish. And what that means is to put something on someone’s mind or to give them something to consider. And again, that thing that Paul is warning them of, the thing that he’s putting on their mind is their pride. Their pride was killing them. Their pride was stunting their growth. Paul appealed to the Christians here at Corinthians simply to sit down and be humble. And even with the Corinthians and their pride being a stumbling block to their growth, Paul still comes from a place of love. As he says in verse 14 and 15, he warns them as dear children. He refers to himself as their father through the gospel. So for this church, for the Corinthians, Paul was in fact their spiritual father. He refers to himself as their father to show that he’s coming from a place of love and he desires what’s best for them. Growing up, I have both parents in my life and I still do.

I’m extremely grateful for my dad, Keith senior. So dad, if you happen to see this, I love you. But my dad has been an amazing example for me of what it looks like to love God, what it means to love your wife, to take care of your family, and to work hard. And there have been some times where as a father should, he’s had to warn and challenge me about my conduct. And it could have been easy for me to allow those things he warned me of or challenged me with to just bounce off of my heart. But because I know it all came from a place of love, and I also saw his life, I took it and I learned from it. Thinking back to when I was in high school, and I’m quite sure all of us could probably agree, I loved sleep. Sleep is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And I would sleep in at any chance I get. And for my dad, he noticed that. He noticed that there was something in my character that needed to be addressed. And it was something that we would talk about. And the thing that he would challenge me with was to not be lazy.

And my dad, he would ask me questions like, How do you plan on taking care of your family and sleeping in all day? Or if you want to get married one day, do you think your wife will want her husband to just sleep around all day? And that struck me. And a lot of the things that my dad has taught me still impacts me to this very day. And again, it could have been extremely easy to just get defensive, but I realized that my dad had a point. He was coming from a place of love and he helped me to have the bigger picture in mind. And for Paul here, being their spiritual father, he always has the bigger picture in mind. And with seeking to glorify and honor God, he always came from a place of love. And I know that there are a lot of parents here, and I can somewhat say I understand what you all go through. Being a father myself, of our dog back at home, she listens sometimes, sometimes she doesn’t. She has her days. But I know sometimes as fathers or as mothers, you have to warn your children forcefully, but you do it because you love your child and you want what’s best for your child.

And that’s the position that Paul is coming from. Paul, he isn’t just coming to them as apostle Paul, but he’s coming to them as their spiritual father. This is something that we as a church, this is something that we always need. Paul says in verse 15, that even if they had 10,000 guardians in Christ, they did not have many spiritual fathers. I want to ask us today, do you have a spiritual father or mother? Someone who you could get time with, someone you can learn from or get advice from, someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth, someone who could call you higher to help you look more like Jesus. When’s the last time you initiated with your spiritual father or mother? Who was your Paul? Maybe you’re here today and you’ve been away from the church for some time, or maybe you’re learning what it means to be a Christian and you haven’t made the decision yet to make Jesus the Lord of your life. My appeal to you is to find your Paul. Find someone today that can help you begin to understand the wisdom and the saving power of Jesus and the cross.

For all of us to seek someone like that in our lives, that spiritual mother, that spiritual father, that takes a ton of humility. To sit, get time with someone who’s seasoned as a Christian and learn from them, that takes a lot of humility. And about a year and a half ago, I got to help a young man down in Miami become a Christian, and now he refers to me as his spiritual God dad. I’m 24, and honestly, to be able to have that impact on someone’s life, it is extremely humbling. And the reason why it’s so humbling is because it reminds me that there isn’t anything about me that makes me such an amazing God dad, but it’s because of the cross. Christ living in me, that has allowed me to have that impact. And I want to ask, are you a spiritual father or mother to someone? Who are you helping to grow? Who are you helping to look more like Jesus as they grow in the faith? When is the last time you initiated with that person? And like Paul doing all of this out of love. Let’s read verses 16 to 17 again.

In 1 Corinthians 4, it says, Therefore, I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you, Timothy, my son, whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord, he will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. In verse 16, Paul calls for the church to imitate him. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, the person who I believe is the most worthy of imitation, second to Jesus is Paul. Paul lived such a radical life. To read through the scriptures and see his transformation from being a church destroyer to a church builder is extremely radical. He was radical when it came to calling other churches and other Christians higher and to live according to God’s standard. Paul, 100 % is worth imitating. And being the sports fan that I am as Marcus mentioned, unfortunately, slash fortunately, I’m a Dolphins fan. But thinking about the children in our world today, right, the reason why children mirror the way that they play sports after athletes such as Stephen Curry or LeBron James or Patrick Mahomes is because they are in awe of how those athletes perform.

They see how great these players are and they want to imitate that. I think for us as a church, sometimes we can lose that childlike wonder and we don’t take the time out to be in awe of the lives of those who’ve come before us. Paul is calling the Corinthian church to imitate him. I could say that there are some men and women here, a part of this church who are worth imitating. I’m truly just amazed by how much they love God and the way that they conduct themselves. I think about this amazing brother. He’s actually sitting right here, Eddie Francis, one of our elders. The love that Eddie has for his wife, Lepatic, golden. He still calls her girlfriend. I’m like, Wow, okay, that’s awesome. That’s so beautiful. Eddie, he’s 6’4, so a lot of us here have to look up to Eddie when he talks. But despite his height, Eddie is so gentle. And he loves God so much. And that’s extremely evident for me by just listening to him pray. Eddie is someone who I really feel like I can imitate. I think about Dante Sampang. One thing about Dante, if you haven’t known this before, I advise you to go up to him and do this.

Dante gives some of the best hugs I’ve ever had in my life. Dante’s hugs, truly, Dante’s hugs reminds me of God’s love. The way he loves up on people, and even when he asks me, Hey, yo, Keith, man, how are you doing? He gives me a big hug. I’m like, Man, I’m inspired by that. I want to do the same thing for other people. I could go on and on. I could honestly name a lot of you guys here, but the point that I’m trying to make is that in order to imitate people, we need that childlike heart, that sense of awe and amazement. When our hearts are filled with pride, we can easily feel like we are the stars of the show, and we can live out Christianity on our own. We can also become very insecure and afraid of what people think of us. Satan can get into our heads and we stop imitating those around us who imitate Jesus. But if we’re seeking to grow and imitate others, we have to be humble. We must all strive to sit down and be humble. When you consider your life and the way that you conduct yourself, who was someone you could imitate as they imitate Christ?

Their love for God, their love for God’s people, whether it’s their husband, their wife, their kids, or even strangers. The people among us who exemplify the mind of Christ with their humility, lack of entitlement and obedience. Who can you imitate? You see, Paul, he then goes on to say that he’s going to send Timothy and refers to Timothy as his son, who he loves and who is faithful in the Lord. He also says that Timothy would be coming to remind them of his way of life in Christ, which agrees with what Paul teaches everywhere in every church. It’s pretty obvious that Paul has such a high regard for Timothy. For those who don’t know, Timothy is essentially Paul’s prodigy. Paul says that this young man will be coming to tell them and to bring clarity to the things that Paul is telling them. Timothy has had a long lasting relationship with Paul as one of his trusted coworkers. If the Corinthians want to understand how Paul would like them to live and to be, then Timothy will remind them. And what’s so cool about this is that Timothy is also referred to as Paul’s son in the faith.

Timothy has been a sponge in his relationship with Paul, soaking up all the wisdom that comes from God. And he’s been a faithful follower of Christ. And this, for me, this makes me think back to when I was a younger Christian. I was so grateful. And all I wanted to do was soak up all the teachings I could, learn from those who have come before me so I can pass those pieces of wisdom on to those after me. Have you guys ever felt that? But along the way, we grow complacent. We begin to feel like we got this Christianity thing on our own. Or I’ve been a Christian for X amount of years and I’ve read my Bible cover to cover. But I want to admonish us and encourage us, let’s be like Timothy Church. Let’s have humble hearts and sponge minds and soak in God’s Word, seeking to learn and grow and teach others that come along after us. To close this section, let’s read again, verses 18 to 21. In verse 18, it says, Some of you have become arrogant as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon if the Lord is willing and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with the rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with the gentle spirit?

In verses 18 and 19, Paul calls out the arrogance of some of the members and makes it known to them that he will be coming to them soon to make sure that his fatherly advice and admonishing is being followed. He then goes on to say that he wants to find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. And with this in mind, we as people, we know the difference between talk and power. And if you’re a dog, dad or mom like me, you know the difference between being all bark and no bite. And based on what Paul says, it seems as though that these arrogant members are doing a lot of this. They’re just talking, but they aren’t doing anything. There’s no action to follow up behind their words. And again, the Kingdom of God is not about this.

It’s not about talk, but it’s about power. What’s your life like? Are we just all talk or are we just or do our actions? Do we have action behind our words? And when we make the Kingdom of God about ourselves and we do a bunch of talking, what we end up doing is we end up diminishing the power of the Kingdom of God. But when we humble ourselves and seek to live by God’s Word and not just talk, the power of the Kingdom becomes evident. Paul ends this part of the letter by asking the Corinthians what they prefer. Would they rather him come with a rod of discipline or come in love and a gentle spirit? And for Paul, up to this point, it was so tough. It was tough for him to lead them because of their pride and their unrepentent hearts. And it begs the question for us, are we easy to lead? Are we easy to lead? Being easy to lead, that is an indication of our humility. And as we’re being led, we can trust those leading us because we trust God. But like every father who was away from their family for a long time, they want to come home with that love and spirit of gentleness, not with the rod.

And after a hard, but loving rebuke of his children, this part of Paul’s letter is more of a compassionate humor. But of course, even for us to think about ourselves being a child, we want for our father to come back with warmth and with love. Paul’s love for this church is extremely evident. He wants what’s best for the church in Corinth. Paul’s constant push for them to grow and be like Christ shows his heart for them. If the church desires to grow, they have to be humble, take Paul’s words seriously and look to him as their spiritual father and imitate him.

Church, let’s take these principles and apply them to our lives. I have some living water challenges for us this morning. The first living water challenge is to find a spiritual father or mother, someone who can help you grow and look more like Jesus. Many of you already may have a spiritual father or mother, so I want to challenge you to reconnect with them today. Number two, for those of you who are more seasoned in the faith, be a spiritual father or mother to someone else. Share your story. Love up on us younger people.

Help us look more like Jesus. And for us younger people, we do need to initiate with you, but please don’t hesitate to initiate with us. And I can speak for the campus ministry. If you invite us over and you feed us, we’ll be there. But in all seriousness, but we really need each other, guys. As a church, we need each other, and that’s what’s going to help us to continuously grow. And living water challenge number three. Don’t just talk about it, be about it. I want to challenge us to focus on the Scripture for the week and seek to put it into action. I know we don’t have the slides behind us so you could see it, so I’ll just repeat it one more time. Living water challenge one, find a spiritual father or mother. Living water challenge number two, be a spiritual father or mother to someone else. And living water challenge number three, don’t just talk about it, be about it. My brothers and sisters, let us all take heed to the warning Paul gives to the Corinthians. Let us sit down, be humble. And if this humble way of life worked for the Son of God and the creator of the universe, you and I must trust that it will also work for us.

Amen. I’ll say a quick prayer.

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