S (Scripture): 1 Corinthians 3:5 What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us. 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. 3:7 So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work. 3:9 We are coworkers belonging to God.
O (Observation): Paul is addressing the factions that now make up the church in Corinth. As leaders in the church have arisen, members of the church in Corinth feel their allegiance lining up with the various church leaders…thus fracturing the fragile community of believers.
Paul urges them to remember why they have gathered in the first place, and to think about who the community should focus on: God!
Paul claims to have started that church (to plant the seed), and in good fashion, other leaders were being raised up as well…folks like Apollos (to water). But still, God is the one who gets the credit for spiritual growth. Folks like Paul and Apollos just come along and put in some effort…but God is the one who does the growing.
The kingdom needs workers, not pop stars.
A (Application): We get confused sometimes: Does the church exist for my sake? Or do I exist for the sake of the church?
Actually, I would propose that this is a false dichotomy. The answer to both of those questions can be a resounding “Yes!”
We have times when we cannot make it alone, so we need brothers and sisters in Christ…to worship together, to play together, to pray together. Sometimes we need someone to prompt us in our faith journey.
On the other hand, as part of the body of Christ, you have a responsibility to use your gifts (yes, spiritual gifts, and earthly gifts) for the sake of the Kingdom and the Church. You have to put in some effort, here.
Dallas Willard is famous for lots of things about church discipleship, and here is one of his more famous quotes:
Grace is not opposed to effort, just earning.
Paul had a role to play. Apollos had a role to play. You and I have a role to play in the Church, for the Kingdom. And when it is for the Kingdom…it’s not about US (or ME)!
Let us not fracture the sacred community by drawing attention to ourselves or building ourselves up. Let us focus, instead, on putting forth the effort to do some planting and watering, and letting God do the growing.
What do you feel your role is, in the body of Christ? What are your spiritual gifts?
Check out one of these two resources on Spiritual Gifts, to see how God has gifted you!
Once you’ve completed one or both of these assessment tools, please share your results here, or through the Contact Me page. Thanks!
P (Prayer): Lord, you are gracious in sending us your Spirit to work in us and through us. Declare your mighty acts, using our hands and feet. Amen.