The early church in Corinth struggled with jealousy and quarreling, undoubtedly from comparing and competing about who should be followed as their primary agent of church growth … Apollos or Paul (1 Cor. 3:3). Paul called this kind of behavior worldly and fleshly. They were looking at what each of these men did through human eyes rather than a spiritual perspective.
Spiritual Perspective Needed Toward Each Other’s Part in Church Growth
From this situation in Corinth we can learn how we should view each other’s part in church growth. While 1 Corinthians 3 zeroes in on the work just two people did, the truths could apply to anyone in the Body doing their part as many of these truths parallel what we find in 1 Corinthians 12 about using our spiritual gifts.
- We are fellow servants and co-workers working toward God’s purposes not our personal agendas. — “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe … The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose … For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor. 3:5, 8-9)
- Our parts are assigned to us by God so there should be no need for comparisons or competition as God distributes our spiritual gifts as He deems best. — “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” (1 Cor. 3:5)
- God assigns different parts so the full work gets accomplished by a network of people, not one person doing it all. — “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it …” (1 Cor. 3:6)
- No one is more special than the other because of the part he/she has in the growth process so we shouldn’t be lifting one up above the other but rather pointing to God and His grace in our lives. — “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Cor. 3:7) “By the grace God has given me, I …” (1 Cor. 3:10)
- God is the real growth agent so He’s the One who should get the glory, not us. We simply work in cooperation with Him doing the parts He assigned to us. — “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Cor. 3:7)
- We are each accountable to God for how we do our part, not what someone else does or doesn’t do. — “they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.” (1 Cor. 3:8) “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” (1 Cor. 3:10)
As noted in a previous post, everybody has a part in church growth. While there are responsibilities we all have regardless of gifting, some of what we each do will be based on the spiritual gifts we have been given to do the work God assigned for us to do. Let’s make sure we maintain a spiritual perspective so church growth doesn’t take on a worldly or fleshly approach.