There had been divisions in the church of Corinth over various church leaders (Paul, Apollos, and Peter specifically-see chapter 1 and 3). Paul corrects their thinking in verse 1 when he tells them to think of them as “ministers of Christ.” Literally translated Paul says, “think of us as servants of Christ.” They weren’t trying to jockey for positions of power in the church or in a hierarchy of super religiousness. Paul wanted them to know that their calling was to be servants of God. Jesus Himself said “the greatest among you will be your servant” in Matthew 20. For Paul, life wasn’t about him and becoming popular. Life for him was about making much out of Christ and being obedient to Christ in all circumstances. It reminds us of what John the Baptist told his disciples in John 3:30, “he must increase, but I must decrease.”
Paul also says in verse 1 that they are “stewards of the mysteries of God.” A steward is someone hired by the owner to manage something for them. Paul was considered himself a slave to Christ (see Romans 6). He was to do what his Master desired of him to do. In this case, Paul was to share the Gospel (mysteries of God in this case). Paul’s life was about sharing the Gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen.
Then in verse 2, Paul says that to be a steward you must be faithful. This reminds us of what Jesus said in 12, “to whom much is given, much is required.” God’s assignments for His children will always match their character. God knows what we are able to handle, and therefore He only gives us what we can handle. Paul was charged with not only spreading the Gospel, but also with caring for the churches he started. This required a lot of time, patience, and hard work. But God had given Paul the strength to do it, just as He will give us the strength to do what He has called us to do (see 1 Timothy 1:12).
God never asks us to do it all by ourselves. In fact, we are told in John 15 that we can’t do it by ourselves. The requirement God has placed on us is faithfulness. We are to be faithful in what He has given us to do. This is possible as we pray and ask God for His help, and then depend on Him to work in us and through us.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him