1 Corinthians 3:21-23 “So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future– all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”
It’s no secret that our world associates great wealth with importance. Who gets their names in the magazines and the newspapers? Unless you do something criminal, it’s the wealthy. Who gets elected to positions of power? Almost every member of the United States Senate is a millionaire. Who gets asked to endorse products before a television audience? Who gets invited to spend a night at the White House? Not many poor people I can think of.
If wealth and importance go together, then you and I must be some of the most important people on earth. As it turns out, we own everything. Paul said it twice, “All things are yours.” That doesn’t mean everything is our personal property. Rather, we are the children of the one to whom everything truly does belong. And he has promised that he makes everything in this world serve you and me. There is no object, no person, no event that fails to serve us as Christians in some way. In all we have or experience, we are enjoying God’s providence.
To help us understand, Paul gives us a representative list, starting with Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (or Peter). The Corinthians were forming cliques around these three apostles (against the wishes of these leaders themselves). In spite of the divisions and distinctions the members of the church were creating, these teachers remained the common property of all. Though they were leaders in the church, God used them to serve the church. He is still using them to serve us today through their words preserved on the pages of the Scriptures.
All of life, no matter how bad, how painful, or how hard it gets, is here to serve us. Even at its worst it teaches us not to cling too tightly to this world. It forces us to throw ourselves on God’s grace in faith. Death may inspire our fear. We may pay huge sums to delay it and avoid it. But even death is here to serve us. Jesus’ resurrection makes it the door to heaven. What could be a greater blessing than that?
The passage of time may appear outside of our control. It slips away from us, running faster and faster. But in God’s providence even the uncertain future, which so often fills us with worry, lies under our domain. It has to serve us, because we ourselves are the personal property of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In making us his own, God has made us like the rich and important people of this world. We have all these servants running around taking care of us. So we know that we are valuable, not because of some trumped up little boasts and wobbly pride of our own making. No, our value comes from the God who gave us to Christ and made us his own. No more boasting about anyone or anything less!