God Gives the Growth

“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-7

Last week we considered the necessity of God’s work in the building of His church. If He isn’t in it, those that labor, labor in vain. There is much that goes on in the day to day work of planting and building the church. God sends His ministers into the fields to serve and lead in such labor. God works through them to bring the Word, to proclaim Jesus Christ, to gather His people, to put things in order in the church, to feed, tend, and nurture His precious lambs.

Although the people appreciate, love, and connect with the ministers involved in such labor, they should not be thought of as lords of their faith, nor as the reason the church grows and matures, nor be put on a pedestal as “personality pastors”. They are but servants and instruments in the Redeemer’s hands. The church in Corinth had such a struggle. The struggle went to the point of a divisive spirit being present in the body. Some wanted to align with Paul, others with Apollos.

Paul, in this passage, corrects the sorely misguided attention and hacks at the root of division in the church. He did so by taking the attention off of himself and Apollos, placing it firmly on Christ. Paul and Apollos were but ministers, gifts from God to the people, who proclaimed the Gospel to them. Yet it was the Lord who saved them. Paul did the work of planting. Apollos brought the water of the Word to feed and nourish the young saplings. But God gave the growth. Paul and Apollos were happy to put the credit where credit was due- to the Lord Jesus Christ. They agreed with John the Baptist when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Brothers and sisters, may we continue to have a God-centered, Word grounded and saturated view of church planting and church growth. I encourage you to not fix your eyes on me, or other ministers, as we labor together. Rather, may we all keep our eyes securely fixed on Jesus Christ, praising and glorifying Him all the more for the great work He has done and is doing in building His church.