Now the one who plants and the one who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

In the early days of Christianity, one of the greatest concerns was unity of the body of Christ. Paul constantly addressed this among different groups of believers. As people heard the gospel message from different teachers and apostles, many of them began to elevate those leaders. Just a few verses before our text, Paul described the division that had occurred over people “following” him or Apollos (3:5-6). His point to the Corinthians was this: one of them planted and one watered. Both were critical roles, but the growth came exclusively from God.

All these generations later, and we are still finding ways of dividing ourselves up within the body of Christ. You name it, we can find a way to create separate groups. Before we know it, churches and ministries are pitted against each other. Paul reminded believers that we are all God’s workers, and the field is His to begin with. He has called each of us uniquely to participate in the work of the kingdom in response to His gift of grace. But those roles were always meant to work together—some planting, some watering. At no point do we get to claim responsibility for the growth that only God can bring about.

In light of God’s love for us, we are called to give our lives away for the sake of His gospel of grace. There is much work to be done in the kingdom, and He has invited us to participate in our daily lives. Yet, nothing will derail the people of God quite as quickly as divisiveness, competition, and pride. The growth of God’s kingdom is never of our own doing, but only by God’s power working through us. So, each of us is called to humble ourselves before God in light of His grace—opening our hands to serve and quickening our feet to follow in obedience.

  • How have you seen divisiveness and competition become toxic among believers? How could things have been different with Paul’s message in mind?
  • How might God be calling you to plant or water in this season? How are you making a kingdom contribution in light of God’s grace to you?
  • Take some time to repent for any ways that you have taken credit for God’s kingdom growth. Ask the Lord to direct you going into a new year as to how you can participate in His kingdom growth.