“WHO GETS GREATER CREDIT?”                By Pastor YAU

Text: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9                                    February 28, 2010.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)     An event in modern history: On May 29, 1953, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first people to reach the peak of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Since Tenzing did not know how to use a camera, Edmund took a photo of Tenzing as evidence that they did reach the top. Later, journalists repeatedly asked who had reached the summit first. The expedition leader, John Hunt, replied, “They reached it together as a team.” They were united by a common goal and neither was concerned who should get the greater credit.

2)     An event in ancient history: It is counterproductive to try to determine who deserves the greater credit when something is done well in the church. The Corinthian Church was split right in the middle, those who followed Paul and those who followed Apollo. On this divided situation, Paul told them, “I planted and Apollo watered...Neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters.” (3:7) He reminded them that they were “God’s fellow workers.” (3:9) Paul said, it is God who gives the increase in their ministry and only God deserves the greatest credit. (3:7)

 

WHY IS CREDIT SO IMPORTANT?

1)    Credit creates fulfillment: Some may believe that achievement is sufficient fulfillment, but getting credits of achievement creates much stronger sense of fulfillment. Getting credits from what we have done meets the inner vacuum of satisfaction. It is a way to payoff what we have put in to the success.

2)    Credit creates recognition: While getting credits fulfill our inner desire of satisfaction, it also creates recognition from others we covet to impress or to receive reward. This is part of human nature from very early of our life. Children and students covet credits or recognition from parents and teacher for their good work or good behavior. We usually are generous to give them credits they deserve.

3)    Credit creates motivation: Giving credits is a strong indication of recognition and recognition creates strong motivation which in turn generates strong desire to do more, get higher and better. Giving credits where it is due is also a powerful encouragement to those who work hard to achieve. That’s why we give cups, trophies, banners, and even as small as ribbons to reward those who achieved something of meaning or value.

4)    Credit giving is biblical: Giving credits where it is due is very biblical. When Abraham set out to follow God’s command by faith not by sight, because he didn’t even know where he supposed to go. (Hebrews 11:8) God recognized his virtue of faith and gave him credit for that, “Abram believed the Lord and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6) When Solomon prayed to God for wisdom to rule over God’s people instead of long life and riches or power to conquer enemies, God gave him credit for his humble attitude and wise choice and gave him both. (1 Kings 3:6-13)

 

PITFALLS IN GETTING CREDIT:

1)   When it is not deserved: “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So, Cain was very angry and his face was down cast.” (Genesis 4:4-5) When credit was not given but demanded and it is undeserved, credit getting can be deadly as in Cain’s case. God looked at both offerings from 2 different men and gave credit to one but didn’t give to the other. This was not because God was unfair but because Cain did not do life right. Rage because of undeserved credit in this case may be an extreme, but jealousy on undeserved but demanded credit and their terrible results still happen in human circles of life today.

2)   When it generates pride: “Jehozadak was deported when the Lord sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Neubuchadnezzar.” (1 Chronicles 6:15) But Neubuchadnezza took pride on himself and claimed credit of his success. “All this happened to King Neubuchadnezzar. Twelve months later as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this, the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you. Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like cattle. And immediately what had been said about him was fulfilled.” (Daniel 4:28-33) The king took credit of God’s plan and power and suffered terrible consequence.

3)   When it causes division: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you. For someone says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollo,” are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4) When people, especially Christians fight for credit, division is inevitable and the name of Christ and the church will suffer loss.

4)   When it blinds your spirit: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself: What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” (Luke 12:12-21) From this parable, we see that this rich man did not give credit to God for giving him all the good weather and he did not give credit to his servants who worked hard and faithful to produce the good crop. He even forgot to see the true value of life other than the good crops. Success and material possession could blind us of the true value of life.

 

PRINCIPLES ON GETTING CREDIT: (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

1)    We see a spiritual problem: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly, mere infant in Christ.” (3:1)Any time when Christians fight for credit in the church, things done right or position or power, it is all rooted from spiritual immaturity. Paul pointed out the basic cause of fighting for credit: spiritual babies and worldly values. To cure this problem, we need to be rooted in the Lord, His word and His values. The real issue is not who gets what, but who we are in the Lord.

2)    We need a proper position: “After all, what is Apollo? And what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” (3:5)As Paul says here: all who work for God and His church should recognize his or her proper position: we are just servants to God and to His church. We are not leaders or people of prestigious positions. We take orders from the Lord to serve Him and His people. No one could have his/her own agenda in serving God and church.

3)    We need to give God credit: “I planted the seed, Apollo watered it, but God made it grow. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow” (3:6-7) Yes, we need to do our part, our best, but it is God who has the power to make thing grow right and fruitful. There are many elements that contribute to the growth of our work we have no control and cannot provide. God alone deserves all the credit of the fruits we bear.

4)    We will receive our credit: “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded to his own labor.” (3:8) God is not blind, nor is he unjust. He will reward our hard work in due time according to our labor. Credit, rewards and recognition are better given by others and best by God. True spiritual servants of God should never look for, much less fight for credit or recognition.

5)    We have the best credit from God: “For we are God’s fellow workers, you are God’s field, God’s building.” (3:9)The mere status of being coworkers of God should be the most glorious reward anyone may dream to be. He is our master builder and we are his workmen. Let us work our best to build His building and give Him all the credit and glory when it is done well.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Recognizing the problem: Pride, self promotion, vain glory are part of the corrupted human nature that keeps causing conflicts and strives in all levels of human experience. Credit taking happens in the family, at work place, in schools, in politics even in churches. As Christians grow in our spiritual level, we have to pay attention to the subtle temptation of claiming credits we may or may not deserve. We need to remember what Jesus told us: “So, when you have done you were told to do, should say: We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10)

2)   The example of Jesus Christ: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest of your soul.” (Matthew 11:29) The Lord Jesus is our best example we may learn from him to be gentle and humble in heart. Placing him in our heart as we continue to live our lives to glory only Him, not ourselves. Should there be any success, glory or credit, let us bring all to the feet of our Lord and make Him the King of all kings and Lord of all lords to receive all the glory and honor, praises and majesty.