Not a happy promise, but a promise none-the-less. Whoever, through division, party politics, and mean-spiritedness destroys the work of God’s people, God will destroy that person (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).
The church in Corinth knew conflict. Struggles dominated Paul’s ministry to them. The third chapter of First Corinthians is deeply instructive for us as we consider relationships among God’s people.
But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 MSG).
Let’s look at three principles:
Principle #1: Jealousy and quarreling among God’s people is an indication of spiritual immaturity.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:6-11 NIV).
Principle #2: God’s people are a “building” or temple that He is building. Different people, with different gifts, contribute to the building, but the building is God’s and Jesus is the foundation.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV)
Principle #3: Communities of God’s people are like a temple or building in which the Spirit of God dwells. Anyone who destroys God’s Church through jealousy and conflict will be destroyed by God.
“If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17 NIV).
Why do you think that God takes unity and godly relationships in His Church so seriously? Are there ways that you’ve been causing conflict in your local community of believers? Are there ways you could promote unity? How does it make you feel that the Holy Spirit indwells God’s people?