Monday, 28 April 2014
Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.1 Corinthians 3:8
In the preceding verse, Paul said “neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters…” As noted, this was not intended to mean that those who plant and those who water shouldn’t work at all, as if their work was futile, but rather their duties are pale in comparison to the supreme and overarching work of God. What the laborers do is to use what God provides so that both “he who plants and he who waters are one.” They complement each other rather than compete against one another. Therefore, to divide allegiance in the church between Paul or Apollos is misunderstanding their ultimate purpose.
They are cohesively working for the same end goal. Not only that, but one is merely building upon the other and therefore they are both filling necessary roles – not independent, but interdependent. And as noted, the tense of the verbs in verse 6 showed that they are a part of God’s overall work. Dividing loyalties as the Corinthians were doing accomplished nothing except to mar a process that is being worked, from beginning to end, by God.
A question could arise then, if these divisions are marring a process in which Paul and Apollos are engaged in, and that process is being directed by God, are the Corinthians thwarting the plan of God? The answer must be, “No.” God knows in advance all things. Therefore, the divisions had and have sound purposes. A few to be considered are –
1) The divisions in Corinth led to Paul’s letter, a part of the Bible. As it is a part of Scripture used by all who read and apply their Bible – personally and within a church, then God’s purposes were met through this schism. God provided the increase.
2) The division at Corinth, and many divisions since, have been used to turn one church into two (or more) and thus the gospel can spread more quickly. God provides the increase.
3) Such divisions may cause a church to expel those who are unsound, thus protecting the integrity of the church and causing improved spiritual growth. God provides the increase.
These and many other problems which may seem to thwart God’s work, never can. In the end, the united efforts of Paul and Apollos, the supposed divisions by the Corinthians, and the continued process of spreading the gospel – both by competent people and even incompetent people has and will result in God’s plan being brought to a successful completion.
And once this wondrous church is taken home to glory, all members of it will “appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). At that time “each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
Paul will receive his reward for what he did, Apollos will receive his reward for what he accomplished, and you and me… we will stand before the Lord as well. So don’t waste the time you have here, but instead whatever work your hands find to do for Him, do it with all your heart and soul. The rewards will be heavenly!
Life application: Good or bad, your actions are being used by God as He directs the building of His church. Make every effort to accomplish good and honorable results so that you will receive a good and blessed reward.
Glorious, wonderful Lord. Your church has been in the making for 2000 years. My moment here is short and will pass away quickly. So remind me that eternity’s rewards are based on this short and fleeting piece of time. Give me wisdom to contemplate this, gumption to get up and act, and the ability to persevere in this race of life to the finish line, never letting up in my determination to serve You. This is my prayer today. Amen.