What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NASB
It's summer time in Southern California, a summer that I desperately needed. In past years summer has meant a lot less to me. For years I worked five days a week in an air conditioned building. If it were 100 degrees outside, I was still leaving the house with a sweater. I might get the chance to step outside for lunch and feel the warmth of the sun, but that sun was gone again as soon as my break was over. Since I stopped working full time, I have come to appreciate the seasons, mostly because I experience them now.
|My first cucumber in early growth.|
My newest joy is my garden. Yes, I have had things growing my back yard (and front yard, actually) since we bought our home eight years ago. I have written before about my benefiting from another's work. When my yard got a major trim this month, I was sad at how much they cut off my fruit trees. Then I reminded myself that I waste a lot of the fruit that is produced, and everything will grow back. In fact, it will grow back stronger for the trimming that occurred.
Right now the shining gem of my garden is my single cucumber plant that I could easily take too much credit for. It was my mother in law who showed up at my door with seeds and a trellis for the vines to creep up. It was my son, under my mother in law's guidance, who turned the dirt. It is me, though, who faithfully waters the plant. Everyday. Sometimes, twice a day. As Paul wrote, it was God who made it grow. There is nothing I could have done to make that plant grow.
Paul recognized his place in the hierarchy believers. He was someone who said yes to God, one of many someones. I love my cucumber plant, and I am looking forward to the fruit it produces. However, the plant would have grown for anyone who did the work that my family did. The believers in Corinth did not understand this truth.
The modern church sometimes gets hung up on things that don't matter. There are groups who believe they have exclusive access to God because of the day they worship, the age at which they baptize, who they accept in their priesthood, or the way they talk to God. This is what Paul identifies as "jealousy and strife" in verse 3.
I am Apollos. I can only take credit for watering my garden. It would not have mattered if I used a bucket or a hose. One may be appropriate for one part of my garden and the other more appropriate for another part of my garden. Where seed is being sown, cultivated, and watered, God will do the rest.