Raising a baby is hard work. There are many rewarding milestones: when she first notices your face, her first step, laugh, and spoken word. But much of the time, an infant requires unceasing attention just to survive. She can’t live without you. Unfortunately, many Christians never move past spiritual infancy, remaining dependent on their leaders for their growth and development, rather than taking responsibility for their spiritual vitality. In this passage, Paul addresses those he refers to as “infants in Christ,” and calls them to move past spiritual infancy to something much greater.
- Which teachers taught you an important subject or a specific skill? Were you able to move beyond that teacher, and master the subject or skill on your own? Why, or why not?
READ THE WORD: 1 CORINTHIANS 3:1-9 (ESV)
3:1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
- How did Paul describe spiritual infancy? What are the qualities and metaphors Paul used to portray a spiritual infant?
- In verse 3, how did Paul describe the way a spiritual infant relates with other Christians within the body of Christ?
- In verses 4-9, Paul pointed out that a spiritual infant has a twisted view of church leaders. What is that view, and how does it affect a person’s spiritual development?
- Verses 5-9 clarify our role and God’s role in a community’s spiritual development. What do we learn about how growth happens for a believer?
- Would you describe yourself as a spiritual infant, spiritually mature, or somewhere in-between? What steps do you need to take to grow your maturity in Christ?
RESPOND TO GOD
The Corinthians displayed their spiritual immaturity by associating with noteworthy church leaders as a means of claiming superiority over other believers. By contrast, Paul honored divine provision over human accomplishment, teaching that because God is the true and only source of growth, we cannot take credit for the good he accomplishes. This truth levels the playing field, and reminds us that no person is superior to another. It shows us that the growth in our lives is the result of each person’s individual dependence on the grace of God, not by sitting under another’ teaching or attending a certain church.
- Thank God that every good thing you have is from him. Ask him to show you how to grow through an attitude of humility and dependence on the Spirit’s power.