1 Corinthians 16:5-18 — Junior Taylor’s Catch-Phrase Seems Appropriate Here, “We’re All In This Together”

Posted: August 13, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 16:5-18 — I have a friend, named Junior Taylor. As fine a man as you will ever meet is he. The reason that I mention his name here is that he is one of those few people in the world that has a catch-phrase that is closely associated with him. You know, there are those people that when you think of them, you think of that phrase. Robin Williams, “nanu! nanu!”. Porky Pig, “bedee bedee, that’s all folks!” Bugs Bunny, “what’s up, doc?”. Junior’s catch-phrase is, “We’re all in this together.” I mention it here as I think it has a lot to do with this passage that we are moving into today and lot to do with 1 Corinthians as a whole. So, let’s see how Junior’s catch-phrase applies…

It is time to wrap this letter up. There are several final instructions here to the church at Corinth of which we must take notice. First, there is the point about when Paul would visit again. Second, there is the instruction about Timothy. Third, there is the instruction about Apollos. And, finally, there are Paul’s final instructions to the Corinthians themselves. Today, we will look at these instructions to our about individuals and tomorrow we will look at the instructions to the church at Corinth as a whole. These instructions point us toward the fact we are all in this together serving the Lord.

Paul instructs the church at Corinth that he would not be able to visit as soon as he would like because of God’s calling for him to take advantage of gospel opportunities at Ephesus. He says that he will come visit after he has capitalized on the opportunities that the Lord has laid out before him. It is a reminder to us that often when we are called to serve the Lord, we may have to put off doing what we want to do. Sometimes it is easier to do the things that give us personal pleasure rather than step up and serve the Lord. Sometimes it’s easier to take a vacation to Florida than it is to take a mission trip to Togo, or to Haiti, or to Mexico, or Japan. We make choices sometimes to serve ourselves rather than serve others. Buy season tickets to Byrnes football, Clemson football, Carolina football, etc. or use that money to assist people in need. Buy a bigger house with a bigger mortgage or keep your current home and begin to tithe. These are all choices that we make to serve ourselves or serve the Lord. Paul says to the church at Corinth, “Man, I would love to come hang out with you my old friends, but there is a wide-open opportunity here in Ephesus to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. I must choose the harder path of spreading the gospel rather than seeing friends that I already know.” Do you serve yourself first and the Lord when you have time or do you make serving Him a priority whether it be in church-wide events or in serving your fellow man when no one is looking?

The next instruction is about Timothy. Paul was sending Timothy to Corinth ahead of Paul’s next visit since Paul could not come right away. He instructed the church at Corinth not to try to intimidate Timothy. The thing that we know from Acts and the epistles to Timothy was that Timothy was a young guy but at the same time he had become a trusted fellow soldier of Christ to Paul. This instruction reminds us that anyone who serves the Lord demands our respect regardless of how old they are. We have several teenagers and early 20 somethings in our church that are on fire for the Lord and are pursuing avenues that we will allow them to serve the Lord currently and as their future professions. We must measure those who serve the Lord by their passion for Christ rather than by their age. We must measure fellow foot soldiers of Christ by how hard they work to spread the gospel rather than whether they have their drivers license yet or not. We all can serve the Lord no matter what age we are. I know of a little girl in our church that is 5 or 6 years old that tells her classmates at school about Jesus Christ. Ruthie witnesses to her fellow classmates where as some who are 50 years her elder fail to witness to co-workers because it is uncomfortable. Who is the more effective tool for Christ – the 5 year old or the 55 year old. It is not our age or our pedigree that matters when it comes to the gospel. It boils down to how in love with the Lord are you? Are you willing to serve Him daily? Are you passionate about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ? Age doesn’t matter. It is the heart and the passion that matters.

The next instruction is about Apollos. Paul says that Apollos will not be visiting right away. Paul says that Apollos was spreading the gospel in Greece at present. Apollos didn’t go to Corinth right away. As we know from other texts in the epistles to the Corinthian church that there are those that had aligned themselves with Paul and those that had aligned themselves with Apollos. We know from Paul that Apollos was a very polished and charismatic speaker whereas Paul was not. Because of the extreme differences in style, the Corinthians let their preferences for one preacher over another cause division. Maybe, this is why Apollos did not come visit Corinth again right away. He did not want to further divide the church by his presence. That is pretty smart on Apollos’ part, don’t you think? He cared more about allowing the church to heal itself that cause further divisions. There is a lesson there for each of us as church members. The search for unity in the body of Christ is kind of the whole point of 1 Corinthians. The lesson for us is that we must make the health of our local body of Christ stand above our personal desires always. What is best for the church as a whole is what we should all seek rather than trying to prove a point. Some in church would rather prove a point and destroy a church than seek unity and see the church survive. We must never compromise on the gospel to achieve unity but when we are all seeking after the Lord and seeking to spread his gospel unity will follow. It is only when we are self-serving and self-seeking in the body that division comes. Let us remember that we are all in this together to do one thing – to make disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us never get caught up in our differences over preferences that we lose sight of what we are here for. Apollos knew that. That’s why he was staying away from Corinth for a while.

Father, help us to recognize your call when it comes and to act on it rather than doing what is safe and what is comfortable and what is predictable. Help us to move out of our comfort zone. Father, help us to be recognizable for our passion for you regardless of our age. Help us stay young in the faith meaning that we are measured by our passion for you rather than our age. Help us to be so passionate about Christ that the message comes across with great conviction whether I am a 53 year old talking to teenagers or a teenager talking to 50 year olds. Help me have the passion to spread the gospel whether I am 5 years old or 55 years old. Help me Father also to know when I am seeking to promote myself rather than what is in the best interest of the body of Christ. Help to keep myself grounded in the gospel and always make it the most important thing. Help to measure my actions by whether it promotes the name of Jesus Christ or my own name. Help me to choose those actions that promote Jesus. All in all, Lord, help me to remember that we are all in this together working for You! Amen.

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