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1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as
people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.  I fed you milk, not solid
food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still
not able,  because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and
strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?
 For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with
Apollos,” are you not [typical] men?  So, what is Apollos? And what
is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the
role the Lord has given.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the
growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is
anything, but only God who gives the growth.  Now the one who plants
and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive his own reward
according to his own labor.  For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s
field, God’s building. (HCSB)
Paul is brutal with the Corinthian church in the first part of
this passage. He calls them spiritual babies. The reason?
They were a divided church, unable to work together. Verse three
says, “because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife
among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?”
The following verses show the source of their division. Some people
were attaching themselves to Paul and others to Apollos. They had
The independent commission investigating the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks reported that the rescue efforts were hampered by a “Rivalry between
New York’s police and fire departments.”Their report said, “This rivalry
has been acknowledged by every witness we have asked about it.”
Americans needed cooperation, not competition on that gloomy day.
We are at our best, when we set aside our own ambitions and throw all our
efforts into the common good, instead of putting energy into unhealthy
Earlier in the book, Paul wrote, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions
among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
1 Cor. 1:10 (NASB)
I’m so glad that the Corinthian Church had this problem, because it
allows us to have this beautiful teaching that Paul gives. Paul makes
it clear that he and Apollos were partners not competitors in ministry.
They are just doing their part in the Kingdom work, it is God, not them
that gives the growth and is deserving of the glory. The verse that
follows this explanation is precious. It says, “For we are God’s
co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
This morning, I want us to examine the first of the three phrases
Paul uses, “We are God’s Co-workers.”
"Co” does not imply equality. Paul is not saying we are on the
same standing as God. He makes that clear in the previous verses.
Within the context of this passage, co-worker means that God allows us
to PARTICIPATE TOGETHER WITH HIM IN HIS KINGDOM’S work. Jesus said,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching
them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with
you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)
This Great Commission is our unifying mission. It is God’s
agenda, not ours and we work together to achieve our common goal.
That’s what it means to be co-workers. We have the same objective
and we are working together to achieve it.
On October 16, 1987, the world witnessed the dramatic rescue of 18-month-old
Jessica McClure, who was trapped in an abandoned water well for almost
58 1/2 hours.
"It was one of those events that ended well and uplifted not only our
country, but uplifted the whole world,'' said Midland, Texas oilman Clayton
W. Williams, who played a background role in the rescue.
The rescue by up to 50 on-site mining engineers, firefighters, paramedics,
drillers, jackhammer operators, law-enforcement officers and other support
people brought out "the higher quality and better part of the human soul
and the human spirit,'' Williams said. "Everybody was pulling for that
"The biggest thing ... was the teamwork of the people involved,'' David
Lilly recalled.”It worked beautifully. Every person there was just willing
to do everything above and beyond (their duty). There was no arguing or
Many of the rescuers worked as competitors in the oil drilling business,.
One-time business partners turned bitter rivals were working side by side,
and even hugged one another after the rescue.
Lilly said, "All of them pulled together because they had a common cause."
People who normally won’t work together will, if they have a common
goal. We cooperate best, when everyone involved agrees on the desired
We are co-workers because we are working together on the same
objective, but we are also co-workers because He is WORKING BESIDE US.
Jesus didn’t give us “The Great Commission” then go and sit down beside
the pool and sip a cold glass of ice tea, he promised to be with us as
we do His work. He is in the trenches with us, fighting the good
Actually, I find that I’m closer to Him when I’m busy doing His
work. If you want to be near to God, then you have to go out into
the field and work, because that’s where He is. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if
we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Not only do we draw near to God, but also we draw closer to one
another. I know that when Jack Johnson wrote his love song, “Better
Together,” he was thinking of his wife. However, his words also apply
to Christian fellowship. It says, “It’s not always easy and sometimes
life can be deceiving/But I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when
True fellowship rarely happens over a cup of coffee or a plate
of spaghetti. Real fellowship happens beside a hospital bed, or over
a paint can or in a committee meeting. We develop stronger relationships
working together for the cause of Christ than we ever will engaging in
small talk or idle chatter.
Besides, the added benefit of building strong relationships, working
together increases the probability of the successful completion of our
Tom Westman credits two things with his million-dollar victory of Survivor
Palau. First, being himself, and second applying two things he learned
as a firefighter: “survival and teamwork.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Dr. Paula M. Rooney, President of Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts
recently told her graduating students, “you cannot undertake life as a
spectator sport. True success will involve playing on a team," (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
How about you? Are you in the game, working together with
others on the field. Or are you sitting in the stands, a mere spectator
watching others do what God called you to do?