1 Corinthians 3:21-23
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;…
It is a folly under the sun to live above one's means. It is the folly of very many Christians that they live spiritually far below their means of grace and godliness. They are like poor people who have come into a large estate, and cannot for some time adapt themselves to their altered position or comport themselves as befits their fortune. They still betray the narrow ideas and awkward manners of their former condition. So Christians are assured that they have unsearchable riches in Christ, but cannot elevate their ideas and modes of life to the high level of their spiritual privilege. They still betray the narrow estimates and unworthy habits of their time of unregeneracy and unbelief. To correct this tendency and raise the standard of Christian sentiment and conduct, let us look into this inventory of a believer's possessions, and the right or charter by which they are his.
I. THE PROPERTY. "All things are yours." It is at once real and movable estate. It has the most permanent character; and yet it may be taken by the Christian whithersoever he goes, and enjoyed anywhere. A man rich in this world's goods has necessary limits to his possessions. His real estate is irremovable and his personality or movable wealth is perishable. But he whose riches are intellectual and spiritual has property everywhere. Cast him naked and shipwrecked on an unknown coast; yet he is rich. Spoil him of all earthly goods; reduce him to the very almshouse; and yet he is rich. When he has nothing, he still possesses all things.
1. The Christian ministry, represented by Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. The Church is not for the ministry, but the ministry for the Church. The Corinthian Christians did not belong to the great preachers here named, but the great preachers belonged to them. Often the isolation of particular flocks under their own pastors is carried to an extent which virtually brings the doctrine to nought, and gives them no enjoyment of other gifts bestowed by the Head of the Church for the perfecting of his saints. But some are best for planting, others for watering. Let ministers and teachers of the Word, variously qualified, be welcomed and cherished. All of them are yours.
2. The world. It is a bad master, but a useful servant. All things in it that are not sinful may be made serviceable to the happiness and progress of the Christian, and to the glory of God. "Use this world as not abusing it."
3. Life, with all its vicissitudes and possibilities, sorrow and joy, trial and success. It is quite different to the Christian from what it is to the non Christian. He is never helpless, and need never be in despair; for he may be sure that the circumstances of his life are ordered by his heavenly Friend, the lines of his life are drawn according to the plan of his loving Saviour.
4. Death; which comes, not as a grisly terror, but to do a kindly office. Death, like life, just because it is not in the Christian's power, serves his best interests. "Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." We may add - The death of friends is yours, softening your heart. The death of enemies is yours, delivering you out of their hand. And as for yourself, Boston has said, "Death comes to the godly man as Haman to Mordecai, with royal apparel and the horse, and commission to do him honour, though with a sullen voice and unkind countenance."
5. Things present. The Christian has a promise that he will lack no good thing, and things that seem evil, wounds, losses, disappointments, all tend by the Divine blessing to exercise his faith and patience, and so to strengthen his soul.
6. Things to come. Of these we cannot speak. The sights we may see, the feelings we may experience, the changes we may witness, within a year or two, who can tell? How much less can we descant on things beyond? But enough to know that the future is ours. There will be no power among things to come which can separate us from the love of God.
II. THE SECURITY FOR ALL THIS PROPERTY. The Christian holds all through his relation to Christ, "the Heir of all things." "Ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." Believers belong to Christ, as given to him by the Father, redeemed by him on the cross, effectually called and mystically united to him by the Holy Spirit. And Christ is God's, as the well beloved of the Father, to whom all things are made subject both in heaven and earth. Now believers inherit through Christ, are co-heirs with him. It is because he is Heir and Lord of all, that all things are theirs. To quote an old divine: "The saints have nothing but through Christ; and whatsoever is his, is theirs. His God is their God; his Father, their Father; his blood, his merits, his Spirit, his victories, all the spoil he hath gotten, all the revenue and income of his life and death, - all is theirs." If men only believed that these things are so, that Christians have such treasures, and hold them by such a tenure, surely a motive of enlightened self interest would urge them to the feet of Christ. Alas! all men have not faith. The current ideas of wealth and substance are quite unconnected with religion, which seems to many a good thing to die with, but rather a hindrance than otherwise in life. St. Paul's teaching tells a different tale. It is the Christless who, being without God in the world, are poor and indigent. It is those who are Christ's who, however poor in this world, are rich towards God. - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;