Contructive Criticism from a Master Teacher: Paul

ImageSome years ago I was given an ENORMOUS compliment…that I was a master teacher. Humbly, I do not see myself in that category after studying the life of Jesus and further the life of Paul. Especially so in the third chapter of Corinthians!

Principle: Jesus is the Master Teacher of all and Paul learned at his feet. We would do well to follow his example. Now to our study for today 1 Cor 3:

A few days ago we talked about the fact that there is a grain of truth in every ounce of criticism. That fits here today as we walk through Paul’s loving rebuke to the believers in the Corinthian Church. Let’s see why and how Paul is a master teacher. What is a master teacher? A master teacher is one who drives their students to grow in whatever sphere of learning they are found. They are able to create independent learners who have the critical thinking skills to grow beyond where they find themselves at the moment. They use multiple learning strategies (intellectual, emotional or volitional paths) to cause their students to grasp the material. A master teacher  has the role of mentoring not training. You might want to go and research the role of a mentor here before you go on. I had to do that last year. What is a mentor? How do you distinguish a mentor from a trainer?

The first step in planning and preparing a lesson is to know your material. Chapter 2 shows us that Paul indeed does. His material consisted of the message of Christ crucified that men may yield their hearts and minds to Him alone. He reminded these precious believers that they have the mind of Christ so think and do as He would have done.  

Now the problem. Paul heard news of the divisions that were occurring in this church. He bluntly tells them that they are still infants, they had heard the message but had not moved beyond the message to the action that proves they understood the message.  After that blow to their ego he goes on to explain why he has said this. It was not about the doctrine but their application of that doctrine to real life.

A master teacher uses various illustrations to present a basic point. Paul uses three metaphors to show these precious believers (recall 1Cor 1: rich in knowledge, do not lack any spiritual gift) where they should have been at this time. First metaphor: the garden. One plants, one waters, but God is the master gardener.  Second metaphor: a building. One designs, one builds, but God is the master architect. Third metaphor: the temple.  Now to make it personal Paul says: You are the temple, the Illuminating Holy Spirit lives within you; do not destroy the temple. Thus with each metaphor, Paul is essentially saying God is ultimate and we (himself, Apollos, Cephas) are but servants. Do not elevate us beyond our station in life, instead honor God first and foremost.

Then to draw his lesson to a close Paul asks them to diagnose where they are. They are either a wise expert (vs 10), an unwise builder (vs 15) or one who is destructive (vs 17). Thus after this consider that one day judgment will come and God will prove which person they are by the works they bring to Him. Again to help them, Paul as a master teacher uses tangible gifts (gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay or straw) to help them see how their works might stand the test of fire. Paul is saying: diagnose where you are and how you are either building on the foundation or tearing it down. Paul reminds them once again: no man should boast except in the Lord alone!

Our question then is: How do you see yourself in your family/church/community? Do you see yourself as a servant of the Most High God? Are you building with precious gifts or gifts that will be extinguished in the fire?



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