Laboring together for the gospel

Ds J Bruintjes
1 Korinthiërs 16
Preek Inhoud: 

Dear church,

 the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ transforms how we see the other person. Do we see their well-being as being connect to our wellbeing. Or are we all just individuals trying to make the best of our own life. If love is the greatest command, we know that is not case. We a body. United to Christ by one spirit. This is what all the theology comes down to – loving God and neighbor. This is what it is all about. And this chapter underscores this again! Laboring for the gospel is a labor in love.

Laboring together for the gospel

  1. Provision for churches
  2. Pastors working together
  3. Encouragement for the local church
  4. Under Gods blessing


“Now concerning the collection for the saints: Every time he addresses a new question, he says “Now concerning…” He now addresses the last question in the letter that the church wrote to him, and it was about the weekly collection that was to be taken for the church in Jerusalem. They would have asked about it, about how to collect it, and the way it would have gotten to Jerusalem. Where money is dealt with in the church there are questions.

How we are to give:

As I directed the churches in Galatia, you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, that that there will no collecting when I come.” The first day of the week – he asks them to put something aside regularly (First day of the week), and purposefully (Put something aside), and proportionately (as he may prosper). This is what giving looks like. It is regular, it is intentional, and it is proportional to what God has given. To whom much as been given much will be expected.

But why? For brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. The church is a worldwide community of believers. United to Christ. When you put something aside every week, or every month, rather than just give a lump you often find yourself giving so much more. A little bit at a time adds up.

You don’t miss it if you give it. I love that we also collect often for needy churches here, and for the deacon’s fund, who also sometimes use the funds to help in other churches in the area for those who are needy. But why? What is the motivation? The Gospel. This is the argument that Pual pick up on in the next book, “for you know the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ, that though h was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).” You don’t even own your money. God does. He lent it to you for your life as a steward. But God by right owned all glory. And gave it all up! ALL. for you. You are saved by grace, God owes you nothing, you owe God everything. Grace is a fearful thing.

If you understand this motivation, you also understand by Pual also says that some churches “in severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. They gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the face taking part in the relief of the saints.” How many times does a church give without being asked, without a budget being presents. How many churches actually beg to be involved in giving to the needs of others. The more we deepen ourselves in the gospel the more it will be a reality.

Furthermore, our giving should not just be regular, intentional, and proportional, it should also be above reproach. As he says, “And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.” Paul is saying that they should choose someone trustworthy, someone they accredit. And not only must they be accredited, but a letter will be sent with them, to witness what the money is for. In a world filled with corruption, and greed. A world filled with usury; it is always good for the church to be above reproach, especially with money. Why? Because we are the body of Christ. It is not about our name, or our money, it is his name, and his resources that we are called to steward, showing each other and the world. There is a reason we audit and its because we want to obey the government but also because we want to be above reproach.

And this was going to church that was thousand kilometers away. We ought to look broadly for need. And it was not like some of the churches that gave were not poor themselves. But they still gave. Why? There was need. Dear church we have an obligation to our bothers and sisters around this world. We don’t believe the church is just here, but we believe we have brothers and sisters round this world.

Faith in Christ is expressed in love toward others – especially those in need. Let me repeat faith in Christ is expressed in love toward others especially those in need. Whatever belongs to one person in Christ, belongs to all in Christ. The resources God gave he gave to steward, and if the brother or sister share Christ with you, and if you share him who is infinitely worthy, then in him you share all other things.  

Pastor Paul working with others.

Paul was passionate about ministry and loved his people. Not just planting churches and leaving them to make it on their own, but continually keeping his ear to the ground, writing letters back and forth, and visiting almost all of them at least twice and many three or four times for periods of time. We see the correspondence that he had with the church through just four letters that we know about that he sent to the Corinthians, of which we must.

There is not much that you can do in a short visit, and Paul knows this, so he tells them that he will come to them after passing through Macedonia and possibly spending the winter there, so that they can help him on his journey. He ways in verse 7, “I hope to spend some time there if the Lord Permits.”  Lord willing. He knew his journey, his plans were subject to gods directing, but it did not stop him from planning, thinking, and praying about where to next.

In the meantime, he is in he wants to stay in Ephesus because that is where God is bringing many to repentance, and because there is many adversaries. One does not go without the other. They go together where people are coming to Christ and the Spirit is working powerfully there is also spiritual war. Just because the church is growing does not mean its safe, in fact it could mean its even more unsafe. When the church is enjoying success like Paul was experiencing in Ephesus, adversaries quickly come both within and without. Paul warns the Ephesian elders about this in Acts 20. But he knows as long as the doors keep opening, he is going to walk through them.

But he is not the only one working. He works with a team of pastors and ministers. He mentors others and take them along. Timothy is one of them. In other letters he calls him his beloved son. Which helps us to understand the language that he uses here, especially to this church, which is very critical of its pastors. Comparing them to people like Paul or Apollos.

He writes, “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let know one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, fo I am expecting him with the brothers. Here was a church that had heard Paul, that had heard Apollos, it would be easy to be critical on a young guy like Timothy. Maybe he had already had a rough experience among them. Go gentle and help him on his way. I could say this about the upcoming plants for our internship program, where we will receive young men to. My prayer is that the Lord would help us to be the church where young preachers can confidently preach their very first sermons. Where these young men receive a lot of encouragement and affirmation. Are we that church?

This happens when we come not to critique the sermon, but when we humble ourselves and come to receive Christ. It is far better to arrive at church each week as a worshipper than a critic. It is far better to determine you will seek out and enjoy whatever good you can find in the church than to identify and nitpick every weakness. It will be better for you and better for everyone else if you come to worship eager to enjoy every blessing.

Not only did he encourage them to receive timothy well, but he has also strongly encouraged Apollos to come. Apparently, the church had asked him to come. Because this is the last time he says, “Now concerning…” in reply to the letter they wrote.  Here you see that pastors sometimes do not see eye to eye. Which is ok. Maybe Paul thought if Apollo went, he could encourage them to find unity, and maybe Apollos thought that this was not the best time, but that Paul needed to go first. Whatever it was Paul does mention that “he will come when he has opportunity.” had to stay away, because they did not understand that it was not about them.


 Finally, he ends with a word of encouragement. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Is this us? He writes this to Corinth, but God through his Spirit commands us to do the same.

Be watchful. It means to be alert, and awake. Don’t go through life on auto-pilot – but go with your spiritual eyes wide open. It means seeing the danger in advance to avoid it. .

Stand firm in the faith: One of the things that the world will tell you is that you cannot decide on what truth is. What is right and wrong. No says Paul you have to stand firm. There are certain non-negotiables. He talks about the faith particularly in chapter 15 which is the person and work of Christ, in which they had to stand firm. Ephesians also picks up on this language in the armor of God passage, where it says, “Stand firm!” There is so much false doctrine going around, and we are not immune. YouTube is in every home in the church, and it requires great discernment to know who to listen to.

Act like men. Here the gender issue threatens to obscure the force of “be a man!” The word “man” does not simply pose a contrast with supposedly “feminine” qualities; it also stands in contrast with childish ways, as strikingly in 1 Cor 13:11: ἐφρόνουν ὡς νήπιος (I had a childish mind-set, attitude) but I set all this aside ὅτε γέγονα ἀνήρ (when I became a man). Hence the Greek suggests both maturity and courage: show mature courage. Don’t be a child. Grow up in maturity. You are acting like children. This reflects, in the closure of the letter, Paul’s earlier rebukes that their notions of “the spiritual” were immature and childish (1 Cor 3:1)

It means to be courageous not by boasting in your own strength, but standing in the strength that God provides. The same Paul who writes, “For I was with you in weakness, and in fear and much trembling,” Or , “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” Writes be a man! Be courageous! This is about understanding the gospel and living out of the truth of that gospel! That victory is ours in Christ! So the encouragement to act like men, is not an encouragement to go to a gym, and beef up, and act tough! It is a call to stand on the rock which is Christ. Showing humility and sacrificing all.

You see they had to be watchful, so that they can stand firm in the faith. If you stand firm in the faith, you will not be immature, and childish, but in contrast you will show mature courage. And by showing mature courage on the basis of faith you will be strong!

And all that we do must be done with love! It is peculiar to letter to stress the importance of love three times in closing (vv. 14, 22, 24; cf. 1:10 and 13:1–13). Love for others here, love for the Lord in v. 22, and Paul love for them in verse. Again, It reminds us of chapter 13. If you do anything. Literally anything that does not come for love. It means nothing. In fact, its sin.

And then he gives us examples of these kid of people in the church. I through long and hard about mentioning names too. We are sometimes too afraid to talk about names, but paul is not. His letters are full of people that he asks the church to recognize and honor. It is no different here.

He writes, “No I urge you, brothers – you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, ant that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints – be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.” Stephanas has most likely become a co-worker with Paul in founding, or at least nurturing the beginnings, of the church at Corinth. These people, in the words of 1 Corinthians 13, did not seek their own interests, but the interest of others.

That is what leadership in the church of Jesus Christ entails. And it is to these people that you submit. Authentic leadership and service entail hard toil (κοπιῶντι), which in turn deserves respect and honor. They were fellow workers and laborers. I am so thankful for the fellow workers and laborers here in the church, who have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. Dear Bellville, brother and sisters.  look out for these people, honor them, follow their example. There are a few I would mention, if I could.

But not only does he encourage them, but he also rejoices in how they encourage him! You see this mutual love and support that is happening! Financially, among the pastors, and among the church! its amazing! “I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours.” Its so beautiful. God uses us to refresh each other. Paul realizes there is no loan wolf pastor. Neither is there a pastor that can bear the burden of ministry alone. Not even if you are the apostle, Paul. When I see you on Sunday morning there is refreshment that takes place! There is joy as we share in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a hole left in the pastor’s heart when he is away from the church, and these people were able to fill that hole to a certain extent. You see how relational it all is. You see how all Paul’s theology is lived out in love.

I love how he just says, “Give recognition to such people.” Sometimes we as reformed people can be quick to say, now wait a minute, its all God. Yes it is – but he uses people and they are not robots. We must give recognition.

And he ends with final greeting. Again this is done in the company of other. It is relational. Just look at the words, they send hearty greetings! It is one church heartily greeting another church in the Lord. These saints know they are not an island. Jesus is gathering his church. WE are united. We have that sometimes here in Capetown where so many people come to visit. And they get to feel the unity.

And so, we come to the very end. of this book. And Paul takes up the pen. We have spent years delving into this book. Taking it in verse by verse as if it was written for us because it was. And now finally we see this great pastoral apostle take up his pen to write a small not with his own hand. And what does he write. He writes on the great of all of these. LOVE. Love for God. Jesus is so precious so amazing. His love so perfect. So absolute. So self-sacrificial. Paul says, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed”! O that you would come to love him more! And know that if you do not love Jesus then you don’t know him. You are still in your sins. The question is not do you know him. The question is do you love him. Are you living in a love relationship with him.

O that his grace would be with you.

And then he ends with an assurance of love “Nowhere else in his correspondence does Paul assure the community of his love in a fashion as solemn as he does in 1 Corinthians. He wants them to know – I LOVE YOU! If I speak harshly it’s because I love you. If I rebuke you it’s because I love you. Paul does it out of love. He practices what he preaches. Church a pastor love his church. I love you. Dearly in Christ. I say it all the time. I mean it every time. The elders love. They don’t want you to walk to death. They want live. To live out of the gospel of the love of Jesus! May we take it to heart, and live it out!