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How To Be Humble - 4:6-7

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  50:13
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Introduction

Two men arrived at a wedding at about the same time.
Both were dressed well, but one very obviously had a far more expensive suit on.
They sit together at the wedding and when it is over they naturally move to the reception together as well.
As they walked toward the reception, the better dressed man (let’s call him Freddy) is telling his companion (we’ll call him Donald) all about how well he knows this family.
Freddy is basically bragging about having had such an impact on them and how he brought the bride and groom together.
They get to the reception and there is a section near the head table with a sign saying “reserved for close family and friends.”
Freddy, in his fancy suit, says to his new friend Donald, “This is where we part ways, I’m sure I’m expected to sit in the reserved section.”
Donald nods and makes his way to the back.
He isn’t there long when the best man arrives and invites him to sit in the reserved section.
They walk up there together and all the seats are taken.
The best man approaches Freddy and has him move to the back so that Donald can sit there.
Ouch. Right?
You see it turned out, Freddy was actually just an acquaintance, he didn’t know them well at all!
Donald, on the other hand, went to school with the couple and new them quite well.
How awkward. How embarrassing to be moved from a position of honor.
How much better it would have been to sit in the more humble seat and be asked to move up.
If this story sounds familiar, its because I adapted it from a parable Jesus told. In Luke 14.
Jesus ends that parable with these words. Luke 14:11.
Luke 14:11
Luke 14:11 NKJV
11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Pride is a problem we all face.
It may manifest in vastly different ways, yet in almost all our faults, failures, and sins; pride plays its part.
Because pride is such a presence in our lives, Scripture addresses it on a number of occasions.
As Paul continues to address the troubles in the Corinthian church, he deals with pride as a core issue.
Paul introduced one of the major issues in the Corinthian church all the way back in chapter 1.
Look with me at 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13
1 Corinthians 1:10–13 NKJV
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
The issue in the Corinthian church was the elevation of leaders to unhealthy positions of honor.
In chapter 3 we learned that the Corinthian church was dealing with sectarianism.
That’s a big word that simply means they were separating themselves in to factions and groups based on what teacher they liked best.
This had created huge problems in the church.
In our passage today Paul is going to call out one of the attitudes behind their behavior.
To become humble there are two lessons we all must learn.
Only through a proper understanding of ourselves can we truly be humble.
When we are humble we are peaceful, useful, and wise.
Lesson #1…

1. Learn The Source Of Authority v. 6

Where does authority come from?
Does it come from power?
The one who has the biggest stick makes the rules.
The problem here is that power corrupts. Therefore, might cannot make right.
Does it come from knowledge?
If you know the most you make the rules.
The problem here is that sources of knowledge often disagree.
Does it come from experience?
Everyone must bow before the weight of your experience.
The problem here is that not everyone will have the same experience.
Does it come from influence?
The more followers you have the more authority you have.
The problem here is that followers can disappear overnight.
As believers in Jesus Christ it is essential to know where authority comes from and where it doesn’t.
In this passage Paul reveals two sources of authority.
Source #1…

a. Authority resides in leadership v. 6a

1 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV
6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.
We’re are going to focus on the first part of this verse.
Before we get into that, let’s talk about authority and leadership.
When we say that authority resides in leadership I want us to understand the distinction between leadership and power.
A leader is not simply someone who is in charge.
Biblically speaking, a leader is someone who is taking you closer and closer to Christ.
A leader is someone called and placed by God in a specific position.
A leader is someone whose character and lifestyle are worthy of imitation.
Paul called people to follow him on several occasions.
Let me give you one example in Philippians 3:17.
Philippians 3:17
Philippians 3:17 NKJV
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
Even though Paul told them to follow him, he was quick to clarify that there were conditions that a leader had to meet in order to be followed. Look at 1 Corinthians 11:1.
1 Corinthians 11:1
1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
It is only as a leader is following Christ that we should follow that leader.
Go to 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-9
2 Thessalonians 3:6–9 NKJV
6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
This speaks directly to what we are talking about.
Authority does not mean command, it means leadership.
In the church context God places people in positions of authority, not to command, but to lead.
What does this have to do with humility?
We’re getting there, bear with me.
Let’s work through our text.
Here in 1 Cor. 4:6, Paul first reminds his readers that they are brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is a pattern we see, when Paul has something hard to say, he reminds them of their unity in Christ.
He then speaks of figuratively transferring things to himself and Apollos.
What things ?
It seems best to understand this as a reference to the figurative examples he has used to describe leaders.
He described himself and Apollos as farmers in 3:5-8. As builders in 3:9-15. And as servants/stewards in 4:1-5.
Why?
Why is Paul making these comparisons?
Remember what was happening.
People in the Corinthian church were saying, I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos, I’m of Peter, I’m of Christ.
Paul wanted them to understand that all these men were just that, men.
They were simply ministers through whom they believed (3:5)!
They were the farmers who sowed the seed, God made it grow.
They were the builders who gave structure to faith, but Christ was the foundation.
They were servants and stewards, but Christ is the master.
It is foolish to praise the servants for simply doing what the master commanded.
He has referred to himself and Apollos through these figurative examples so that the Corinthians would learn from them.
If Paul and Apollos thought of themselves in this way, how much more should the Corinthian believers.
They are not literal farmers, builders, or servants/stewards.
What they were is God-ordained leaders who shepherd the flock.
This is a source of authority.
Authority is not found in flashy, attention getting, people.
Even though they may look and act like the ones who should be in charge.
Authority is found in faithful servants of Christ.
Men and women who have been called and gifted, but who are servant leaders.
What made Paul and Apollos figures of authority was not there gifts or talents. It was their faithfulness.
Everything Paul has been saying since the beginning of chapter 3 has been to help the Corinthians realize the importance of faithfulness.
As we go on in this passage it will become clear that one of the issues in Corinth was pride.
Their sectarianism was fueled by their desire to one up one another through identification with a particular leader.
Humility comes from an awareness that we are not the authority.
Authority comes from God and He gives it to the leaders who follow Him.
God gives authority to leaders who are faithful.
There is no room for pride in a leader because they are only who God made them!
There is no room for pride in ourselves because God is the one who sets us up or takes us down.
It is all about God!
There is no room for pride!
The source of authority is not us, it is God and it is the leaders He has ordained.
That’s source #1.
Authority resides in leadership.
Source #2…

b. Authority resides in Scripture v. 6b

1 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV
6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.
We just dealt with the first part of the verse. Now we will tackle the end of it.
There is an interesting phrase here, “not to think beyond what is written.”
Paul says this is the goal he has been working toward.
But what does he mean?
The problem in Corinth was that groups of believers were elevating specific teachers beyond their Biblically defined position and role.
They were placing emphasis on these teachers as if they were the ones who saved them!