Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Success & Failure - Our Work in God's Business

When it comes to me being a success or failure before God, I know that I fail often, but I don’t doubt God.  He can make successes even from my failures. 

 What we must try to do is to have the same attitude that Paul did when he wrote:
 I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 

 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 

 Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run - but only one receives the prize?

Run in such a way that you may win!

 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable reward.

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;

I box in such a way, as not beating the air;


I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:22-27

 Let’s “run the race” to win … to see how many people we can help before this life comes to an end and we receive our mansions in heaven.  It’s like a self-imposed competition, to see if we can continually challenge ourselves to serve more and serve better.  So it’s not just about quantity of service, but also quality of service.  Paul also wrote this, in the same letter to Corinth:
 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul?

Servants through whom y’all believed, even as the Lord gave to each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we’re God’s fellow workers; y’all are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it.

But each man must be careful how he builds on it - for no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  

Don’t you know that y’all are a temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in y’all? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what y’all are. 

1 Corinthians 3:5-17

 When I’m hard on myself, it’s not from guilt or self-loathing so much as just an attitude that “I can do better,” and always want to improve my service to my Master. 

 It should be our goal to try to “save the more,” which means to increase our quantity, our productivity, our fruit.  But we should also be always striving to do our best quality of work.  When we fail, we understand God can still deliver us.  But how can we be satisfied with that?  How can  we be content to give less than our very best, and to improve constantly? 

 God has given us so much,
and the best we can give is so little;
the least we can give is our best.



  1. Sometimes we misunderstand passages when we fail to see the second-person "you" as a plural. Since "y'all" is a perfectly correct English contraction (even outside the southeastern US) - and useful here for clarity, I used that in my translation.

    In this case, many people don't realize that Paul was saying the whole church forms the temple - all of them, together, formed the temple, or house of Yahweh (as also in 2 Peter 2.4-5).
    The case he makes is extra powerful when we realize that Paul was suggesting that the "church work" we do is very important. All the remainder of Paul's letter to Corinth should be understood as Paul's quality work. When he writes them to eject the immoral one from them, when he tells them to decide business matters within the church, gives instructions about the Lord's Supper or tells them to edify one another - each of these are Paul's attempts to do quality work for God.

    All scripture can be summed up in the Golden Rule. Will we care for our brothers and sisters as if we're devoted Temple masons who want our work to survive the fire?