Man's Work and God's
1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?…

Explain the agricultural figure used in ver. 6. In the production of the year's harvest many different agencies are employed. Each man has work and his time for work, and upon man's labour the harvest in large measure depends. Yet sun, and wind, and rain, and atmosphere, and soil, are things quite as essential as man's work, but absolutely out of man's control. Year by year man ploughs, man plants, man tends, but God gives the increase. So in spiritual things, there is an important sphere for man's agency, but efficiency and result depend on the cooperating grace and blessing of God.

I. MAN NEVER CAN GET BEYOND MINISTRY. That is his duty, and that is his dignity. Even Paul and Apollos can be but "ministers by whom we believe." Man cannot control the plan into which his work may fit, or the issues which his work should reach. Man never can be independent, so as to take up anything and do it completely. He never has entrusted to him more than a piece or part, which, if well done, fits into other pieces and parts, entrusted to other men, and goes to complete the whole purpose that was in God's thought. And so no honour of results can ever attach to man the agent. Servants only ask praise for faithfulness, the honour of the work belongs wholly to the master whose thought and plan are thus wrought out. This feeling should ensure the sincere humility of all Christian teachers.

II. BEHIND MINISTRY IS ALWAYS MASTERSHIP. We serve somebody. "We serve the Lord Christ." But in the case of spiritual work, we may say that in God is more than mastership, there is presidency over and use of more important agencies than man's, though agencies related to man's, and working in with his. Spiritual agencies are as much out of our control as sun, or wind, or rain; yet God uses them, with ours, to win the increase. Man can never, by himself, accomplish any moral or spiritual service. Paul and Apollos could do much for the Church at Corinth, but they stand aside, and let men see how gloriously and effectively God works. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

WEB: Who then is Apollos, and who is Paul, but servants through whom you believed; and each as the Lord gave to him?

Work and Wages
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