In [Apollos and myself] you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
–1 Corinthians 4:6
Several years ago, I conducted the funeral service for a successful businesswoman. She was a civic leader, a pillar in her church, so I was shocked when I walked into the sanctuary and it was virtually empty except for the first three rows where her children and grandchildren sat. The scene reminded me that what we do in life is largely going to be forgotten, but the legacy of our children and grandchildren will reverberate throughout the generations just like ripples in a pond.
The greatest legacy you and I leave will be our children and grandchildren–not just our biological children but also our spiritual children. The apostle Paul had no natural children that we know of, but he had lots of spiritual children, including the church in Corinth. His goal for his children was that they become like Jesus Christ in every part of their lives. So when he heard the Corinthians were not conforming to that standard, he wrote a strong rebuke. In Paul’s example, we are going to learn how to deal with our children so we can build a legacy that lasts.
Remember, there was division in the church at Corinth. So in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul reminded them, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for the church. Whenever a Christian begins hurting the church for which Jesus Christ died, he or she is going to be the subject of God’s judgment. It is a serious thing to cause division within the church.
What was the root of this division? In a word, pride. Pride was causing the Corinthians to line up behind different pastors and to become dogmatic about nonessential issues. Look at 1 Corinthians 4:6: “In [Apollos and myself] you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” When we draw a line in the sand about issues that the Bible does not specifically or clearly address, it causes division.
Well-meaning people send me emails all the time that say, “Pastor, you need to speak out against such-and-such,” or, “You need to let us know your position on this or that issue.” And these are issues that are not clearly addressed in the Bible, or they are matters of conscience rather than revelation. When we want to make nonessentials essential, there is going to be division in the church. That is what was happening in the Corinthian church: they were exceeding what had been written in Scripture. So Paul decided they needed a good dose of humility.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Building a Legacy That Lasts” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.