My regular readers will know that I belong to a book club that I love. The ladies in that group have become some of my dearest friends. Our discussions may not always stay completely on the topic of the book, but that’s okay, because they are always relevant to the people who are doing the discussing. The other day, someone brought up the verse that says, approximately, ‘one plants, one waters, but God brings the harvest’. The point they were making was that we don’t always see the results of the things we do for God, but that doesn’t mean that they are not worth doing, nor that our efforts will not bear fruit some day in the future. This is true, and a great encouragement for those who try to be faithful in the role God has called them to, but who don’t always see the results.
Other verses in the Bible also use the agricultural metaphor of sowing and reaping. In John 4:37, Jesus says that, “One sows and another reaps,” indicating that there will be some who labour for the harvest who will not be the ones to reap the harvest. Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, somewhat paraphrased, to sow your seed in the morning, but keep on working, because you do not know what effort will eventually pay off. And Galatians 6:9 tells us to not grow weary in doing good, because in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. That verse comes right after the point was made that a person will reap what he sows. (Galatians 6:7-8) The over arching theme that I see in these verses is that we must continue to work for God’s glory, but we must be content to leave the results in His hands. We may not always see the harvest.
But let’s go back and look at the real context of that first verse I mentioned. (I Corinthians 3:6) Just before this verse, Paul tells the people of Corinth that they are focused on the wrong things. Rather than looking at humans and their attributes, they need to focus on God, if they want to get past the very basics of being spiritual people. (I Corinthians 3:1-4) Instead, the people were choosing their favourite leaders and turning them into celebrities.
There were a couple of problems with that. The first as I have already said is that they were giving the glory to people rather than to God. The second is that they were causing divisions in the church. What would that look like in the church today? Imagine the scenario if one pastor did things differently than another, and the congregation took sides. Imagine if each group decided that their way was right and the other way was wrong, or worse, that their pastor was right and the other pastor was wrong. I’ve seen churches split in situations like those. Paul’s point was that we should all work together for the same goal—to welcome lost souls into God’s kingdom. We can all play different roles; we don’t need to do the same things as everyone else. In fact, if we are trying to do things the same way as everyone else, it is likely that our focus is in the wrong place. Spend some time talking to God to ask Him for direction. Make sure that you also take the time to listen for the answer. If you ask Him to, God will make it clear to you what job He wants you to do in His garden.