1Co 3:5-7 “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 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.”
Paul poses the question of his and Apollos’ identity to cause the church at Corinth to closely examine the division that existed among them. While we do not have as much background on Apollos as we do on Paul, they were both men; not supernatural beings. This was one of the things Paul wanted the brethren to understand. He did not want nor deserve a pedestal to be placed upon; he was not interested in establishing a religion based on Paul.
We have been blessed with some very able ministers over the years, and thank God, He is still blessing us with men to ably share the gospel. Those of us who have that privilege today may look back with fond memories of an Elder who took us under his wing and helped us in our ministry. Perhaps we have been blessed to be a mentor for another young preacher God has called to preach His glorious truth.
As much as we love such men (and we should love them), they did not call us or qualify us to preach. The truth that we come to believe, or share with others that they may believe, does not come from us. We are not the authors or finishers of any man’s faith. To allow ourselves to be looked upon as such is to dishonor God who has called us and to defraud our brethren.
Paul tells the church that he and Apollos are only ministers (servants, waiters) by whom they believed. This word “by” indicates a channel by which something comes to pass. We receive electricity into our homes by electrical wiring: it is the channel for the electricity. However, the wiring is not the source of the electricity any more than ministers are the source of one’s belief. Men believe as it is given to them by the Lord.
The ministry serves an important function and should not be discounted. We plant, but we are not the source of the seed. We water, but we are not the well. Certainly, planting and watering are important if a crop is to be produced, but planting and watering is no guarantee of a yield. There are many factors that are completely out of man’s control when growing a garden, as any farmer will tell you.
All the planting and watering we can do in a natural garden would come to nought if there was no sunshine. Seeds will not germinate if the soil is to cold, and plants can die in a late frost. Conditions have to be balanced in a timely manner if our efforts are to produce fruit, and we do not control those conditions.
For this reason, Paul made the statement that the one who plants is not worthy of praise. By the same token, he that waters is not worthy of praise. The glory belongs to God, who is the only one that can give the increase. I am not saying you should not be thankful for the ministers that God sends, and by all means encourage His faithful servants in their labors. But always remember that the thanksgiving and the glory belong to God.
May we be blessed to glorify God and Him alone for our increase of faith!