We are so grateful to Chuck for sharing his devotionals with us. They are not just relevant but powerful as we frame and re-frame our work as entrepreneurs. The prayer at the end of each piece is a beautiful synthesis of thanks and requests to God. We hope it’s as encouraging to you as it’s been to us!
— by Chuck Alley
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
The signature ideal in the concept of democracy is equality of the people. In a democracy, we often speak about creating a “level playing field” where people are not blocked from living to their full potential. Although we envision an equitable distribution of wealth and power, what we really mean is equal access to the goods of society and equal opportunity. However, from the beginning this concept has only been a reality for those who were permitted on the playing field in the first place. For example, our founding fathers applied the democratic ideal only to those who were citizens—male and land-holding. Today, as individuals, we are interested in leveling the playing field by eliminating the advantage that others have over us rather than by giving others the same advantages we enjoy. It is simply against natural or carnal human nature to desire to have or be less so that others might be our equals.
The way of the world, rather, is to “make a name” for one’s self. If the truth be told, we seek to be known, honored, and fulfilled. If we cannot earn that on our own, we will attach ourselves to established names and attempt to ride their coattails to worldly glory (4). This is a prominent feature of the professional world where the first cut when it comes to advancement is usually based on where and with whom you have trained, as well as who you have been associated with in your professional life.
It is a good thing to want to do the best possible job at whatever task you are given. Nowhere in Scripture are we called into the cult of mediocrity. But our excellence is to be a reflection of our desire to honor God and not ourselves. God is the owner of the vineyard, and we owe him the produce from the vine. Jesus recognized this weakness in fallen human nature, so when he demonstrated Christian leadership to his disciples, he gave them a truly shocking lesson.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:13-17).
Our equality is not a matter of making things “fair” in this world, but rather our equal stature before the Lord as sinners. A mature Christian does what Christ did. He first served his Father’s will and then the needs of all people to be reconciled to God. Jesus called the Christian community to continue his work in the world—to announce and demonstrate the purpose and direction of God to the world in order that God may be known and our neighbors reconciled to him. Ultimately, that should be the only distinctive in the life of the Christian.
Keep my eyes on your path, O Christ, and let me not stray down the rabbit trails of my vanity and my lust for notoriety. Give me a humble and obedient heart and the firm, but loving correction, I need to follow you. May I join your Apostle in boasting only in you and your sacrificial love for humankind. Amen.