he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. for we are God’s fellow workers. you are God’s field, God’s building. [1 corinthians 3:8-9]
the corinthians embraced the gospel, but their hearts went a little too far… they began to identify themselves as followers of not just Christ, but as followers of the evangelists they knew. the corinthians began fighting over status between being followers of paul, apollos, cephas (peter), or Jesus.
it is important to see the preceding verses:
“i (paul) planted, apollos watered, but God gave the growth. so neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” [1 corinthians 3:6-7, context & emphasis added]
paul takes no credit for the corinthians’ salvation. paul acknowledges that he planted the seed of the gospel and apollos watered that seed, but none of this is possible without God stirring the hearts of the people to be receptive to him.
paul continues to state that no matter what work was done, he and apollos are one. their different types of work (planting vs. watering) has equal value. paul, apollos, and cephas are on the same team, called, “God’s fellow workers.”
yet the corinthians did what most humans do: categorize. in their categorizations, they ended up following the created over the Creator.
oh, how sad. it’s sad that the corinthians stumbled over this trap of focusing on the earthly over the eternal. it’s sad that we stumble over this today, too. spend time wrestling through these questions with God:
from the corinthian perspective:
– do you attribute all the power of the sermon to the pastor’s talent or to the Holy Spirit?
– do you categorize your brothers and sisters’ righteousness by which church they attend, or by their thoughts on predestination, baptism, or other secondary issues?
– do you contemplate more over commentaries by theologians/social media influencers, or what God speaks through his word? in other words, who is the biggest influence on your thought life?
from the apostle perspective:
– are you actively pursuing Christ as you pursue others?
– are you taking credit for others’ growth?
– do you solely rely on your experience or spiritual resume to share the gospel? do you celebrate yourself after good, spiritual conversations, or do you celebrate God?
– do you tend to compare your brother’s/sister’s works with your own in the church? do you value one work over another (planting vs. watering)?
God searches the heart and mind; he knew your heart posture before you even read these questions. he gives according to your fruit [jeremiah 17:10]. he knows whether you have been operating from the flesh or the Spirit. let’s repent, church!
if you have given your life to Lord Jesus, rest in the identity given to you: son or daughter of the high king. God is sovereign over the pride and division in your heart. Jesus loves you so much that he took on that sin for you.
God grew the corinthians. he grows the people you may disciple. take heart that he grows you, too. ask him today to grow you in love for him that is only rooted in him, not others.
as you walk into today, remember: the sun (God) gives life-sustaining light for the plants to grow. the moon (the church) is a mere reflection of the sun’s light. the plants need the sun to live… not necessarily the moon. the moon has worth, but it is only beautiful when reflecting the sun. go forth and reflect God so others grow in him alone!