I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
First Corinthians 3: 6-9
Recently, we took out a couple of dead trees in our yard. In its place, we planted some forsythia bushes, and non-flowering plums. We purchased these plants from a nursery. Each plant came in a one or two gallon container. Jeana and I worked together to decide exactly where the plants should go. I dug the holes for the plants. Once the holes were deep enough, Jeana helped with the planting. She made sure the root ball of each plant was loosened, and she put in plenty of fertilizer and potting soil. We both made sure the plants were planted vertically, and not leaning to one side or the other. Why do I mention this elaborate process? Because just looking at a single plant, one might not realize all of the people it took for it to grow.
Even at the nursery, my guess is several people were involved. One person planted a seed. Then, the plant may have been transferred to ever-larger containers as it grew others. It may have been watered by a third person. Then, we were guided to the specific plants in the sizable nursery by one of the nursery workers, who helped us get them onto a cart. We then took the cart to the check-out person, who took our payment, and then sent us on our way.
Paul likens the Corinthian church to a growing plant. Many were involved in growing the church. Although the church was planted by Paul, he then left to plan other churches, in other places. While he was gone, a leader named Apollos helped to lead the church.
Unfortunately, divisions had arisen in the church. Some were more loyal to Paul, while others pledged their allegiance to Apollos. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the health of the plant is what matters. He also says that although he planted the seed, Apollos watered it. Yet ultimately, Paul wants to emphasize that all of the growth came from the Lord.
Paul’s deep desire is for the Corinthians to stop fighting, and to start growing. Remembering our connections to one another is helpful in that process. Paul models humility when it comes to getting credit. He doesn’t care who gets “credit” for the church. Ultimately, he believes the only one who really deserves credit is God Himself.
What would our world look like, if people cared more about growth and health, than fighting and “getting credit?” It might look a whole lot better! Think about that truth, as you enjoy the plants this spring!
Thank you for the way in which we are surrounded by green growth at this time of year, in gardens and parks and orchards. Help us to do our part in fostering and nurturing growth in other people, and in our church and community. Ultimately, we know that nothing grows without your blessing. Therefore, give us humble hearts. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.