One of the Bible verses that has most impacted my life is a verse that most people don’t really know about. Paul is writing the church at Corinth, and they are fighting about who they follow. Paul says, basically, What is Apollos? What am I? We are servants of God. And here is one of the core verses for the Bible in my life. Verse 6: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God brought the growth.”
Whatever we do. Whatever we work on. God brings the growth. Have you ever farmed or had a garden? I confess to being a terrible gardener. I have killed a cactus. That makes me less nurturing to plants than a dessert. When you garden, you set the right environment for the plant, but can you make it grow? No. You can’t make it grow. You can only set up the environment.
Paul says that he did not grow the church. He did not grow the people. Any growth they had came because God brought the growth.
I don’t like this. I want to bring the growth. I want to make my family strong. I want to grow the church. I want to make people better. I want to preach the perfect sermon that makes everyone want to become missionaries and throw off all their sinful behaviors. The temptation of humanity, since the story of the garden, has been to be like God.
But God brings growth. God builds the church. Anything good this church has ever done, or ever will do, will come from God.
Now, that does not mean that we get to sit back and do nothing. We don’t wait while twiddling our thumbs. Paul has to plant. Apollos has to water. We have to be faithful to do the things that God has called us to do.
These are two sides of the same coin—God brings the growth AND we have to do our part. These are hard to keep together. If God is going to bring the growth, why should I do anything? If I have to be faithful, why can’t I take it upon myself.
It is not easy to plant and water while also understanding that God brings the growth. It takes some maturity to understand that. But, if we can get that, it helps bring unity. Because it is not me versus you. It is us both as Fellow workers, in Paul’s language. We do our parts, and God uses us to bring growth.
What an honor it is to have God use us. He does not have to, you know. He is God. He wants to use you and I. He invites us to work for his Kingdom, because he wants to forge a deeper relationship with us in the process.
Now, get out there and plant.