“I 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
The context here is really important in First Corinthians chapter three because, again, Paul is addressing this division in the church, disunity in the church because some people are clinging to Paul and other people are clinging to Apollos and saying “We’re in this camp or that camp.”
Lord, we ask that You give us humility to labor, plant, and water for the sake of Your glory.
And Paul, throughout this letter, is saying, “No. We’re in Christ’s camp. All of our focus is on Christ. He’s the one who unites us.” So right here we see this great picture of the way the kingdom of God works and how the gospel of God spreads through different people planting and different people watering, to use that analogy. Somebody shares the gospel initially.
Focusing on Understanding the Gospel
Somebody comes behind and takes a next step with someone in understanding the gospel, but in it all, it’s God who is doing the work. And he may do it through Paul at this time. He may do it through Apollos at another time, or this person or that person, but it’s God who does it. And I think we’re reminded here of how easy it is to get focused on a person, to get focused on a teacher, to get focused on someone or even something as opposed to staying focused on God.
If we’re not careful, we can get so caught up in, “What is this teacher saying? Or what does that person say,” that we’re missing the whole point. It doesn’t matter what that person says. What matters is what God has said. And to the extent with which, in this case, Paul is reflecting God’s word and Apollos is reflecting God’s word, then great. God is doing the work through different people. So rejoice in God and thank God for his work through Paul. Thank God for his work through Apollos.
1 Corinthians 3:6–7 Encourages a Relationship with God
You think about that? I think about this in my life. I think about all the different people whom God has used at different points to encourage me in my relationship with him, whether it’s my mom and dad, whether it’s this leader at that time or another leader at another time. But my faith is not in them. My faith is in the God who used them in all these kinds of ways.
So we’ve got to always be on guard in our hearts, in our lives, to make sure that we are seeing God as the source of all that’s good coming to us and God is the end. It’s all about him. And we don’t see people that way. We don’t see anyone, anything else that way. And then even when we think about our own lives, to realize it’s not about us and what we can do, ultimately. It’s about us pointing to God and being instruments in God’s hands for his work in the world.
1 Corinthians 3:6–7 Praises God’s Ability to Give Growth
So God, we praise you for this truth that you give the growth and it really is not about who plants or who waters. It’s about you. So God, we praise you for the different people in our lives who have pointed us to you. Thank you for them. Thank you for the roles they’ve played, but we look to you as the one who called them to play those roles, who has used them in those ways. So God, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for them. We give glory to you for them.
And then, God, we pray that you would make us those kind of people in others’ lives who are planting gospel seeds, who are helping people grow in the word, God, that we would be instruments in your hands to encourage others in their relationships with you. But God, in that, that we would not desire any attention for ourselves, that we would not work to get attention for ourselves, that we would point to you. That if anybody tries to give credit to us that we would just immediately point it to you.
It’s God who gives the growth. May that be our constant focus. It’s God who gives the growth. May that be our constant refrain. And in all of this, God, we confess, you are the source of everything that is good and you are the end. It is for your glory that you work in all of these ways. So we praise you for the ways you have used people to plant and water and our lives, and we pray that you would use us to plant and water in others’ lives, all so that you might receive exclusive glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.