No One Man Bands

Concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers. Corinthians 16:12

The body of Christ is no place for one-man bands, at least when it comes to the work of ministry. The Christian life is a team game, not a competition. The apostle Paul reminds us of this time and time again in his letters to the early church.

Even in the infancy of the Corinthian church, Paul knew turf wars were a threat and that some people favored Apollos’s care over his own (1 Corinthians 3:3-7). If Paul himself had been looking out for his own interests and to bolster his own reputation and this church’s reliance on him, he could have made certain that Apollos never returned to Corinth. But we read that he didn’t do that. Quite the opposite, in fact. All he wanted was for God’s people to be ministered to. He knew that ministry was designed to be a shared effort.

God chose to put the early-church ministry team together in wonderful ways. Take Timothy, for example. Paul told the Corinthians, “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 no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers” (1 Corinthians 16:10-11) To many, Timothy would have appeared inadequate for service: he was naturally timid (which is likely why Paul reminded the church to treat him kindly), physically frail (he was known to take a little wine for the sake of his stomach), and younger than most (1 Timothy 4:12; 5:23). But Paul knew that God had assigned a task to Timothy, and he meant to help him fulfill it.

A host of others—men and women such as Phoebe, Prisca, Aquila, Fortunatus, and Achaicus—rallied round in ministry with Paul too. None of them looked or acted the same. They weren’t gifted in the same ways. But they were still all vital in the work of ministry. The same is true of the church body today: we are all entrusted with different tasks by the Lord. It is therefore crucial that we resist the urge to serve only with those to whom we are most similar or with whom we are most impressed. We shouldn’t say, “Well, I only like the way he preaches,” “I can listen only to her voice,” or “I just don’t get on with him.” Instead, we should be grateful for all of God’s servants.

Most of us will live our lives without anybody knowing about us beyond our immediate circle of influence. But it can be enough for our epitaphs to read, “Here lies So-and-So: a great help to those she knew.” Do you believe that “there’s a work for Jesus none but you can do”? When God puts His hand on you and assigns you a task, do you take it seriously, even if it seems inconsequential? We are meant to serve Him together in community, as a unified team on behalf of His kingdom. There will be joy and satisfaction in playing your part, and in encouraging others as they play theirs, today.

Allistair Begg

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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