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 3.4–9 ESV)
During the first century, the world was primarily an agrarian economy. Many people were slaves or servants on large, plantation like farms. The lowest-ranking slave was the field hand who was directly involved with planting, watering, tending, and harvesting crops. In our text, Paul applied this image to himself and Apollos. It is truly an unflattering image. The Corinthians were identifying themselves with certain individuals in the church in order to view themselves as superior to others. There is a powerful lesson here. Serving as elders or working in ministry should not be about status. Leadership is all about service. And everyone inside the church should identify ourselves with God – not prominent persons inside the church. Whatever standing we have inside the church comes from our belonging with God. The path to greatness in God’s kingdom is through service. Who are you serving?
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