“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”
I Corinthians 3:21-23
The church at Corinth had its share of problems. Paul’s first epistle details many of the issues that plagued this local congregation. Generally speaking, they were not spiritual people. They boasted of their perceived spirituality; but on a practical level, they were extremely carnal. One attitude that revealed their carnality was in their division over personalities and preachers. We sometimes call this a “party spirit.” They were taking sides depending on whom their favorite preacher was.
Paul mentioned this serious problem a number of times in his letter to this church. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (I Corinthians 1:12). In another place he said, “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (I Corinthians 3:4). In our text, he mentions this issue again. Because it is stated several times in this epistle, we can safely assume that this was a very serious issue in this church.
In looking at this Scripture, we see some helpful advice on relating to one another and to our spiritual leaders. He tells us basically that all of these men were to be respected as gifts from God. God did not give us men of God to divide us, but to minister to us. When people become divisive over the men that God gave to bless them, it is a clear indication that they are acting carnally rather than spiritually. God warns us not to “glory in men.”
Thank God for the good men that God uses to help us in our spiritual progress, but in reality, they are just men. It is God that deserves the glory, not the men. When men become the object of our praise and devotion, we have sinned. Directing praise to men that is due to God is a form of idolatry. This is not spiritual. This is being carnal. This kind of jealousy and division goes on regularly, but it is grievous to the Spirit of God. We ought to appreciate the way God uses men in our lives, but resist the temptation to make them the object of our praise. The basis of our fellowship should not be about men, but about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God. We can appreciate faithful servants of God without idolizing them.