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2-12-23 A Bigger Person

A Bigger Person (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

David Peterson / General

Holy Spirit; Sanctification; Conversion / 1 Corinthians 3:1–9

Sermon type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Jealousy and coveting is a sign of living without God (in human strength). Faith receives the gift of God in one’s life which enables contentment.


I. The Symptom: Jealousy and Quarreling (1 Cor. 3:3)

1. Fascinating that it is this that he leads off with. So many other things, incest, visiting prostitutes, drunkenness at church dinners.

2. Jealousy gets to the heart of the matter. What does coveting indicate? An unfulfilled need.

a. Augustine and Romans 13:13-14) “not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (NIV84)

b. Few men have the strength to honor a friend’s success without envy. —Aeschylus

For one man who sincerely pities our misfortunes, there are a thousand who sincerely hate our success. —Charles C. Colton

II. The Cause: Acting Like Mere Men (1 Cor. 3:3)

1. They were living from an earthly perspective. There are eyes were focused on this world. This world can’t satisfy.

Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?

The Atlantic recently ran an article that calls attention to the fact that American homes are a lot bigger than they used to be. In 1973, when the Census Bureau started tracking home sizes, the median size of a newly built house was just over 1,500 square feet; that figure reached nearly 2,500 square feet in 2015.

This rise, combined with a drop in the average number of people per household, has translated to a whole lot more room for homeowners and their families. By one estimate, each newly built house had an average of 507 square feet per resident in 1973, and nearly twice that—971 square feet—four decades later.

But Americans aren’t getting any happier with their ever-bigger homes. Clement Bellet, at a European business school, wrote “Despite a major upscaling of single-family houses since 1980 house satisfaction has remained steady in American suburbs.”

It’s a classic, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type report about how we Americans are building bigger homes than ever—and yet our happiness tends to be inversely proportionate to the square footage of our new real estate. As usual, the dynamics of comparison, judgment, and self-justification are at play.

Source: Brandon Bennett, “From The Atlantic: Are McMansions Making People Any Happier? Mockingbird (6-20-19); Joe Pinsker, “Are McMansions Making People Any Happier? The Atlantic (6-11-19)

Study Finds the Rich Are Still Not Satisfied

In 2018, Harvard Business School undertook a first-of-it’s-kind study of over 4000 millionaires in the United States asking them about how much money it would take to make them happy. Each millionaire was asked to report how much they currently had. How happy they were on a scale of 1-10. And then how much money they thought they would need to get to a “10” on the happiness scale. Shockingly, 26%, the largest response was assigned to “10x more,” the largest possible option given. 24% chose “5x more” followed by 23% at “2x mores.” Only 13% of respondents said they “currently have enough to be happy.”

Perhaps most surprising of all, this answer was consistent no matter how much money a person had. This means that someone with 100 million was just as likely as the person with 10 million to select they needed “10x” the amount of money they had to be truly happy. In an interview with The Atlantic, lead researcher Michael Norton suggested that the problem for so many millionaires is comparison. So the question of happiness is not so much “Do I have enough?” but “Do I have more than those around me?”

Norton concluded, “If a family amasses $50 million dollars but moves into a neighborhood where everyone has more money, they still won’t be happy. All the way up the spectrum of wealth, basically everyone says [they’d need] two or three times as much to be perfectly happy.”


Grant Edward Donnelly, Tianyi Zheng, Emily Haisley, and Michael I. Norton. “The Amount and Source of Millionaires’ Wealth (Moderately) Predicts Their Happiness.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 44, no. 5 (May 2018), pages 684–699. Joe Pinsker, “The Reason Many Ultrarich People Aren’t Satisfied With Their Wealth,” The Atlantic (12-4-18)

2. We were never meant to live in our own strength. We won’t function rightly.

3. What they looked at determined what they were trusting in.

III. The Cure: Remembering Who They Are (1 Cor. 3:1, 9)

Work Is Never Done

Despite his popularity, John Chrysostom sometimes became discouraged with the seeming deafness of his listeners as they failed to apply the truths he spoke week after week. He once complained, “My work is like that of a man who is trying to clean a piece of ground into which a muddy stream is constantly flowing.”

Source: “John Chrysostom,” Christian History, no. 44.

1. They are God’s Field and God’s Building and God makes things grow and builds them up!

2. It is an inside job, a seed planted, the Spirit on the inside and the Spirit produces in us fruit (character).

Faith is like muscle which grows stronger and stronger with use, rather than rubber, which weakens when it is stretched.—J. O. Fraser, missionary to China

The art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.—C. S. Lewis

3. Pastoral Diagnosis–awareness of the holy, providence, faith, grace/gratefulness, repentance, communion, sense of vocation (from The Minister as Diagnostician)


Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 2676 Epigram on Jealousy

The man who keeps busy helping the man below him won’t have time to envy the man above him—and there may not be anybody above him anyway.

—Henrietta C. Mears


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