Thursday 14, January 2021
Do You Know The Role You’re Supposed To Play?
Apostle Skhumbuzo Sangweni
Study Scriptures: I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
— 1 Corinthians 3:6,7
As an apostle called to the city of Corinth, Paul was responsible for starting the church in that city. However, he also served as their first pastor until God raised up another pastor to take his place. This replacement was a well-respected, highly educated man from Alexandria in Egypt named Apollos — and soon after Paul’s departure, he became the senior pastor of the Corinthian church. History tells us that Apollos was a gifted orator who was renowned for his eloquence.In Paul’s absence, the Corinthian believers naturally began to compare the different speaking styles of Paul and Apollos. Some who had been in the church from the beginning and were extremely affectionate toward Paul apparently didn’t like the style of the new pastor. There were others in the church who loved Apollos and asserted that his preaching was superior to Paul’s. Yet the message Paul and Apollos preached was the same — they just had different styles.
When Paul heard of divisions forming in the church of Corinth over the issue of his and Apollos’ different styles of ministry he wrote to them and said, “I have planted, Apollos watered…” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Let’s take a closer look at the Greek in this statement to see exactly what Paul meant. The word “planted” in this verse is translated from the Greek word phuteuo, which is a form of phuton, the Greek word for a plant, and it simply refers to the act of planting a plant. By using this word, Paul was metaphorically describing his role in Corinth. He was a planter. His task was to penetrate the darkness of the city and plant a church there. There is no doubt that this city had some of the toughest spiritual ground he had ever encountered. It was surely one of the most difficult places to minister in the ancient world. Like a neglected garden overrun with pests and weeds, Corinth was infested with demonic powers. In order to plant the Gospel in people’s hearts and firmly establish the Church in that tough environment, he had to press forward and till the ground with the power of God; then he had to get on his hands and knees and pull the weeds. This was hard work! Yet for one and a half years, Paul poured his life into this pioneering job. When he finally left Corinth to pursue his apostolic call in another city, the Corinthian church had not only been planted — it was deeply rooted and producing good fruit!\
Paul described his role in Corinth as a planter; however, he was fully aware where his responsibility ended and another equally important responsibility began. That is why he continued in First Corinthians 3:6, “I have planted, Apollos watered.…” The word “watered” here is from the Greek word potidzo, which most often means to water or to irrigate. It is the very word that would have been used to depict a farmer watering his garden to provide nourishment to his plants so they could grow. It can also be translated to imbibe, which in this context would convey the act of a field becoming soaked or saturated in water. By describing Apollos’ role in Corinth with the Greek word potidzo, Paul actually gave Apollos a great compliment. It is as if Paul said, “Apollos didn’t just water you; he saturated you….” In other words, Paul acknowledged what a wonderful, vitally important job Apollos played in the Corinthian church! Paul had pulled the weeds, chased away the pests, planted the seed, and established the new growth of the young plant. Apollos then nurtured that plant, watering it regularly with the Word of God and thus contributing equally to the great increase that happened in that church. The roles of both ministers were absolutely vital. One was not better than the other; rather, each played a significant role in the spiritual development of that church.
Paul continued in First Corinthians 3:6 by saying, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” This word “increase” is the Greek word auxano, which means to cause to grow, to cause to increase, or to cause to become enlarged. By using this word, Paul was teaching us that we are always dependent upon God to provide growth and increase — even if we do everything right as we plant and water our crop. Or to put it another way: We can carry out our different roles of planting and watering, but only God can provide the sunshine and weather that allows it to grow. If God doesn’t intervene and provide His part, all of our planting and watering will be in vain. Therefore, as we carry out our roles as effectively and efficiently as we can, we must always be conscious of the fact that we’re not responsible for growth and success. If growth comes, ultimately it is God who gives the increase. It’s right for you to acknowledge and thank the people who have played a major role in your life. But don’t make the mistake the Corinthians made and get so fixated on personalities that you forget that God is the One who really makes seed grow! Also, as you play a God-given role in someone else’s life, let me encourage you to do the very best with what He has entrusted to you. Till the ground, plant the seed, and pour on the nourishment required to make the seed grow. God expects you to do your part. But never forget that He is your greatest Partner. You are completely dependent on Him to do the part you cannot do for yourself — increase and growth!
Lord, I sincerely want to take just a moment to say thank You for the people who have played such an important role in my spiritual development. So many people have helped me, corrected me, assisted me, and taught me. When I think of how many people have made investments into my life, I am amazed and grateful that You would love me so much. Holy Spirit, help me express my gratitude to these people whom You have used to develop me. Most of all, I want to thank You for providing all the other ingredients that no one else could provide. Even though others invested so much in me, I know that You are the One who is responsible for the growth, increase, and success I am experiencing in my life. Without You, none of this would be happen- ing today, so I want to say thank You!
I pray this in Jesus’ name