January 16, 2022

True Spirituality

Passage: 1 Corinthians 4:1-13
Service Type:


  • What is true spirituality?
    • Someone who has triumphant faith?
    • A successful Christian seeing conversions and church growth?
    • Someone strong in faith and belief - always overcoming?
  • Paul and the apostles faced a lot of criticism - being told they were weak
    • 2 Cor 10:10 - a weak body and contemptible speech
    • 1 Cor 9:1 - questioning if he was an apostle
    • 1 Cor 4:13 - treated really badly
      • Not just criticism from the world - but from brothers and sisters
      • Paul was their spiritual father - yet they were treating him badly
  • v3 - Paul was not licking his wounds but thinking this overall a small thing
    • This is a great mark of true spirituality
  • Overview:
    • A humble response
    • A candid response

A humble response (v1-5)

  • Do not consider us as a 'great' speaker but as stewards and servants
    • How do you respond to criticism?
    • Do you try to elevate yourself?
    • Paul does not do this - "Consider us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries if God" (v1)
  • Paul says he would rather be with them / he thanks God for all their gifts
    • He waits to reply to the criticism until chapter 4
    • He does not elevate himself but teaching
    • He does not elevate men - 1 Cor 3:5-6
  • 'Servant of Christ'
    • The Greek word meaning an 'under rower'
    • A slave in the bottom hull of the boat, rowing away
  • 'Stewards'
    • Someone who works on behalf of another
    • Paul passes on what he has received from God - 1 Cor 15:3
    • Someone who is faithful (v2)
  • v3 - Do not worry about what others think of you / what matters is what God thinks about us
    • God will be the one to judge v4-5
    • What we do will (should) bring praise to God
    • We should not take things to heart and fear man
    • Quote from Matthew Henry
    • Ecc 7:21-22
  • Do not be too introspective about yourself
    • Do not be so inward looking that you condemn yourself and stunt your Christian life
    • Quote
    • Paul does not judge himself - putting things in the past behind him
    • Rom 14:4, 2 Tim 4:8, 2 Cor 10:18

A candid response (v6-13)

  • v5 - Using ironic language
    • You are full, you are so successful, you are like kings
    • O that you were reigning with Christ - but it was not true!
    • The church was divided
  • v6 - Paul has transferred the image of a servant and steward to himself so teach them not to boast
    • They were boasting about their experience and abilities
    • They were not to be puffed up one against the other
  • v7 - Remember that God and Jesus Christ is head of the Church
    • Different gifts are given to different believers
    • 1 Cor 15:9-10 - consider yourself the least, by the grace of God
    • Do not boast
  • Saying the opposite to make a point
    • v8-9 – He really wants them to consider what is going on
    • v10 - The apostles seem to be foolish and the Corinthians wise!
  • What does it mean to be spiritual?
    • Example
    • v11 - They had a harsh life
    • v12 - They laboured
    • v13 - They were treated very badly but they did not respond in kind


  • The danger of virtual church - comfortable Christianity
  • The danger of the cult of the personality
  • True spirituality is rooted in humility
  • This passage is very liberating