Following men or God?
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:1-9 ESV)
Paul is coming agains the worldliness of the people in their confessed allegiance to Paul or Apollos, and how this has brought about division, jealousy and strife. He compares it to childish behaviour. His remedy is to remind the people of who actually does the building, it is the Lord. Those who they have looked to are just servants, yes there is an honour that is due to them, but they are still servants, of the task the Lord has assigned to them.
And that is where we come to – what is it the Lord has assigned to you? What is it he has raced you with? Why look at someone else’s field when your own needs work? Why compare their crops to yours when you have are not Lord over them? I think it is important to see the task that the lord has assigned to each of us, and to give ourselves to that. As each of us does what we are meant to do it forms part of the bigger picture. We must remove that competitive spirit from among us, for as Paul said to the Corinthians, it is not us who makes it grow anyway. The Lord is the grower, not men. We plant, we water. The Lord makes it grow, he makes it come to life.
We will have a better chance ( if I can use that word!) of seeing things happen if we are aware of the task that the Lord has assigned to each of us and get on with that. Secure with each other, but also encouraging congregations to not think of particular personality allegiances. Our trust is in the Lord. He is able to make it grow. I wonder whether our lack of growth is because we have stepped away from these things, stepped away from our trust and recognition of Him who makes it grow and thought that is more about our effort, our strength.