Do you have a green thumb? I think I have a brown one.
I’ve tried to plant a garden for several years beside our house. But it just doesn’t do very good. I don’t think I have the knowledge nor the patience to have a good garden. It’s a lot easier to get my vegetables at the grocery.
Paul compared the church to a garden. I would assume that he had a spiritual ‘green thumb.’
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
The Goal is Growth.
The task of leadership is to sow the seed, cultivate the soil, water the plants, and harvest the fruit. The goal of a church is to bear fruit. Healthy plants produce fruit. Maybe that was where I got it wrong with my little garden. I was more concerned with the end result instead of keeping my plants healthy. In church, it is vital that the leadership care for the health of the membership. Healthy Christians reproduce themselves.
God controls the Results.
Paul’s emphasis is on growth – the harvest. But the emphasis is also on God not the laborers. God is the one who ultimately controls the results. Paul and Apollos were dependent on God. Like the Corinthians, we often emphasize the laborers. But if God is the source of growth, no one can take credit. The workers are important, but God is essential.
Many Hands Make Light Work.
Furthermore, no one can do all the necessary work. Paul was the one who planted the church. Apollos came along and watered what was going on. Later Paul sent Timothy to continue the work (1 Corinthians 4:17). The church is a conglomerate of many talents and gifts. We need each other. We depend on each other.
Gardening is Hard Work.
Paul chose to use agriculture as a model for church. Farmers are hard workers. If farmers don’t work, they will never see a harvest. Though God brings the harvest, it won’t happen without the labor of the workers. Ministry is hard work. But our work will pay off. I believe if we do your part to plant and water, God will do His part to bring the increase. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).
One Goal – The Harvest.
Notice that there is a diversity of ministry (planting and watering) but a unity of purpose. Paul and Apollos were team members with a single goal. The people in Corinth were trying to divide over which leader they liked best. But that was inconsequential to Paul. All that mattered was the harvest. No matter what work a person is doing for the Lord, he is still part of the harvest. The harvest is the souls of men. No mater what is done through church the ultimate goal is the winning of souls to Christ.
Mankind’s story began in a garden. (Genesis 2:8). The story of mankind will culminate in a garden (Revelation 22:2). I hope your church is a beautiful, flourishing, and productive garden.
The Bible is the story of two gardens: Eden and Gethsemane. In the first, Adam took a fall. In the second, Jesus took a stand.