1 Corinthians 3:1-9 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters are anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” NASB
Let’s address the next two truths regarding God’s Harvest and the Church and our Position and Condition in the process.
GOD ALONE GIVES THE INCREASE.
1 Corinthians 3:6 is a needed reminder by the apostle Paul regarding the church and the ministry we are commissioned to engage in. He said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” In verse 7 we read, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Notice that he said twice that the growth is God’s work, not ours. We are simply co-laborers with Him, doing what He has directed and lifting Him up. We are not the growers of the church or the producers of the growth.
I love the declaration in Psalm 126:6 – “He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” You are important in this process, but you are not the most important and the growth of the church is not dependent on your amazing ability or persuasiveness.
I had a person tell me once, “You saved me.” I said, “Nope! If I saved you, I would be responsible for keeping you and I am not. God saved you and your allegiance is to God, not me.” It is up to us to water and plant, but up to God to give the increase and bring to maturity what we have planted. The harvest is His and we are workers in His field.
There are some dangers: If we plant nothing and water nothing what will the increase be NOTHING! If we plant and water in faith and obedience to Him what will the increase be FRUIT? God gives the increase in what we plant and water. We must move outside the confines of the four walls of our sheep shed and sow the seed of the gospel to as many as possible. That’s our part.
WE ARE CO-LABORERS WITH GOD.
God chooses our field and our ministry. There is a powerful reminder in Psalms 127:1 – “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.”
I believe that our purpose is not simply to fill churches with people but to bring souls into contact with the living God and enable them to experience Salvation. The Living God will transform their lives. A church full of people is of no value and could be a nest full of headaches and heartaches if they have not experienced Jesus in salvation. Success is not defined by the number of attendees but the number of people whose lives have been changed by the Grace of God.
We need to be led by the Spirit of God as to where, when, and what we sow. We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do the work of Jesus. We need to be obedient to the vision God has established for the church and our location.
God calls, commands, and provides. We plant and water. He gives the increase. That was liberating to me as a pastor when I realized it was not my job to ‘grow the church’ and it was not ‘my church.’ I saw more souls born into the kingdom and the church (local) became stronger as I relinquished my control and followed His.
God wants none to perish! Jesus will have a church and it will be glorious. We are not in competition with any other church or group, denomination, or sect. We are Laborers Together with God! I have discovered that God always works where He finds willing hearts that desire Him more than anything. He moves where His people believe Him, receive Him, and obey Him.
You are an important part of the Harvest of God. You are a vessel filled with His glory and empowered by His Spirit. Therefore, “Go Ye Therefore.”
God bless you as you enjoy your position and condition as a “Co-laborer with God.” Have a Great Day!