Why I Don’t Say, “My Pastor”

When speaking, we often modify for audience. We either pour on the eloquence, or labor at dumbing it down. That’s what Paul did with the Corinthians:

—– “And I… could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh…” —–

What gave it away? How did Paul know they weren’t wise? Their behavior:

—– “…since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly…?” —–

People were saying who they followed, (“I am of [So-and-so]”). Interestingly, Paul condemns this—even excluding himself from the running:

—– “…neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, [!] but God who causes the growth.” —–

Paul quotes Psalm 94:11 as a reminder of why we shouldn’t follow any person:

—– “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” —–

Then he gives this warning to teachers embellishing the Word with their own:

—– “…so that… you may learn not to exceed what is written…” —–

The apostle warns what this can lead to:

—– “so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” —–

The first teachers of the Gospel—the apostles—were far from self-important. Their main concern wasn’t keeping a comfy constituency for their coffers. In fact, he says they were hungry, poor, and roughly treated. His next description is even more contrary to many of today’s church leaders:

—– “when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate…” —–

No, that doesn’t sound like today’s typical pickings in the pulpit. When reviled, they lash out; when persecuted, they post a video; when slandered, they exact revenge. Thankfully, Paul was divinely appointed and empowered, and keeps it real:

—– “I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power.” —–

[Matthew Henry clarifies: “He would bring the great pretenders among them to a trial… whether… accompanied with divine influences and saving effects on the minds of men.”]

So: this is why I don’t say, “my pastor”: God has granted me discernment—but I’m no apostle, and have been duped a time or two.

What to do? Well, no worries: God gives a promise, with a quick hop back to Chapter 3:

—– “… each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire…” —–

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