February 8, 2023: Who gives the growth? 

Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

 

Reflection

In today’s culture of self-help and achievement, it’s easy to think that you’re the one doing the growing. But here, Paul claims that God gives all the growth. In fact, even those who plant and water aren’t “anything” compared to the grower. When it comes to bringing the kingdom of God to earth, we can’t even claim the planting and tending of our good works! God gets all the glory! How does that make you feel? Indignant? Relieved? After the end of a good day’s work, I feel like I deserve at least some of the kudos. But that’s because I’m still “of the flesh.”

While we’re still in the here-and-not-yet limbo of God’s kingdom on earth, I imagine I’ll always be stuck in the flesh, at least a little. But the Holy Spirit moves in me, too, speaking the truth that handing over all the glory and power to God is extremely freeing. The pressure’s off to perform x, y, z for God. God gives me the seed and the strength to plant. God gives me the water. And God gives all the growth.

–Isabel Vitale

 

Prayer

God the grower, we praise you for the life you give to your people. Thank you for giving us the seeds, strength, and water to carry out your good works. Help us remember that we are but servants working together in your field.

Amen.