How do we grow? (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

In this All Age talk, Claire takes us through Paul’s teaching on who has helped the Corinthians grow, showing it is not so much the preacher that matters, but the message of the gospel and the power of God.

Sermon preached at All Age Service on 12th February 2023

Paul’s letter

As a church we have been looking at Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. He wants them to grow in faith, he’s heard about their quarrelling behaviour and he’s writing to address that. He says they should no longer be reflecting the world, but instead they should be reflecting Jesus because they’ve got his spirit living in them. 

In our passage today we’ll be looking at this more and how he wants them to grow in their spiritual lives. He says that at the moment people wouldn’t be able to tell that they were followers of God because their behaviour isn’t showing that they are.

As a fun way to think about this. We have a little quiz. I have some baby pictures of some animals and I want you to tell me what they will grow into ….

For some of these animals it was hard to see what they would grow into and Paul is saying this about the Corinthian church that at the moment they’re infants, theyve not grown up and they don’t even seem like people with Gods spirit.

Let’s read the passage – 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Two pictures of growth

In the verses we read from Paul‘s letter today there are two pictures of growth given. One is a picture of a child growing from infancy into maturity (to adulthood), first having milk before moving on to solid food, and the second is the image of seeds being planted in a field and growing.

Still infants 

In the first image Paul is saying to the church that when he first told them the good news about Jesus it was brand new. They were given milk because they were baby Christians. This new way of life was different to the way of the world that they had been living. But he would expect them to mature and move on to solid food by now, growing more mature in their faith. But Paul is saying that they’ve not grown up, they’re still infants, still needing milk. He says this because they’re still behaving by the worlds standards not by Gods standards. There is still jealousy and arguing. If they truly were letting Gods spirit work in them their behaviours would not be that of arguing and jealousy.

How does your garden grow?

The second image Paul uses is a field with seeds being planted.

If I wanted to plant something what would I need?

We’re going to plant some seeds today

We need soil, an area to hold the soil, something to help me dig, water, and seeds. Also we need time. These seeds will apparently grow between 14 to 28 days. We need to wait. If Paul had come and planted seeds or Bruce. Are their plants likely to be any better than any of the others here? Maybe. But probably not. They would have used the same equipment, the same tools.

This is the arguement the church in Corinth have been having . My faith is better because Paul planted the seed of faith in me….. mines better because Apollos taught me… Paul wants them to realise their arguing is stupid. Growth isn’t about who told them about Jesus or who continued to teach them, but is about God.

God vs their leaders 

Paul wants the church in Corinth to know that it Is God who gives the leaders their tasks, that its God who makes the seed of faith grow and that it’s God who is the one their trust is in. The leaders are only servants of God, they are sharing and teaching about faith, but compared to God they’re irrelevant. They are to be faithful to God’s teaching receiving recognition for that, but ultimately it is God that makes the seeds of faith grow. The church in Corinth Paul says are God’s field and he will help the seed of faith grow, whoever planted it and encouraged it, by the power of his spirit at work in the hearts of humankind.

You are Gods field. 

Paul ends these verses with the phrase – You are Gods field. He wants you to grow.

 Do you know the Parable of the  sower? When the seed fell on good soil fruit was produced 30 50 100 times what was planted. 

What areas do we need to grow in in order to be more Christlike, to be more in step with Gods spirit?

As Christian’s don’t we want to grow in faith, to allow Gods spirit to work in us changing our attitudes and behaviours and actions to reflect Jesus to the world. I would hope we would. I would hope that we want to be people that show love, even to the unloveable, that bring peace into situations, who show Gods joy even in times of difficulty, who remain patient even when we’re at our wits end, maintaining self-control. People of Gods spirit are to be kind and gentle, striving to do good – being full of integrity, and are faithful in what we commit to do and to God, living lives in obedience to him.

God’s spirit is at work in us are we going to let him? Are we going to produce fruit, behaviours and actions that show we are of Gods spirit and not the world? What are our priorities going to be?

Just as we’ll wait for these parsley seeds to grow, so we wait as we allow God to grow our faith and to be people recognisably different from the world around us because we are people of the spirit and not the world.

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