My wife and I went out to see the latest Marvel film yesterday evening. As always, we stayed until the very last credit because Marvel puts in little extras to give you a wee glimpse of what will happen in the next film (or another one to come soon).
But you have to wait until all the credits have gone. And they credit everyone for anything they have done that had to do with the film. I guess if I had a small bit to do with the film I’d probably want to see my name in the “end crawl” as well! I often wonder at some of the names or some of the positions (what is a “best boy” or “best boy grip” anyway?).
In many ways, this reflects our western society – people want to receive the credit for what they have done. Sometimes it goes beyond that: people not only want the credit but they want the credit for being the best.
Although we find in the New Testament the principal that we should give “respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due” (Romans 13:7 NET) often Christians want more than this. If someone is recognized and they aren’t, they feel slighted. They want people to know what they have done and often they want to feel that they are the best. Some even have competitions to see who is the best preacher or who is the best song leader. Some want people to know exactly how many people they have converted and how many congregations they have started.
What would the apostle Paul have thought of this? Notice his reaction to people wanting this type of recognition.
“What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work. We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).
It doesn’t really matter who does the work because we are all servants. One person may plant the seed (teach someone the word of God), another may water it (give further teaching), but neither makes the person a Christian or causes them to grow spiritually. In fact, Paul went so far as to say that neither the one who plants nor the one who waters really counts for anything. Why? Because it is God who causes the growth, not people.
We may try to compete with other Christians but the reality is we are only servants, doing what our master has asked of us. Those who teach work together as coworkers. We will each be rewarded according to our work. But we are not in competition with each other. We are to work together because we all belong to God.
So, who gets the credit when someone becomes a Christian? Who gets the credit when a Christian grows spiritually?
The answer is quite simple: God does!
Readings for next week:
9 May – 1 Corinthians 7
10 May – 1 Corinthians 8-9
11 May – 1 Corinthians 10
12 May – 1 Corinthians 11
13 May – 1 Corinthians 12-13