1 Corinthians 3:7–8 (ESV): 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul noted that he did not come to Corinth with lofty speech or wisdom. Rather, God’s power was evident through his ministry. Paul then noted that God’s wisdom is much greater than the wisdom of the world, but those of the world believe God’s wisdom is folly.
Paul then noted in 1 Corinthians 3 that he could not address the believers in Corinth as spiritual people, but as carnal. Even though they were Christians, they were acting much like the world, when they divided into competing factions, identifying themselves with various preachers.
So Paul noted that he and Apollos were merely servants. They were not the ones to be applauded for their ministry. Rather, God was to be glorified for the work he was doing in the people’s lives.
This scripture should be both a comfort and a challenge to us. This scripture is comforting because in the world’s eyes – and in even many Christians’ eyes – one follower of Jesus may be more “important” or “successful” because of their ministry. But our text reminds us that God gives the growth.
This scripture should challenge us because we often are tempted to take credit for what only God can accomplish. Or, we accept praise that belongs to God.
Heavenly Father, help me to serve you faithfully, not worrying about who gets the credit or how successful others may believe me to be. Rather, through my efforts to serve you, may you accomplish your purposes. Amen.