ATLANTA (BP)-“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth,” 1 Corinthians 3:7 states (HCSB).
We find ourselves in such an age of me-ism that even Christians struggle with the idea that the world is “all about me.” It’s the idea that I should have my way. I should be the one who gets recognized. I should be in charge of the world!
In the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul found himself in the middle of a huge controversy. Members of the church had chosen sides and adopted leaders for the two sides, namely Paul and Apollos. Paul has just finished calling the Christians at Corinth spiritual babies. He remarks that there is envy and strife among them as some have declared themselves to be followers of Paul, and others followers of Apollos.
Paul brings the church back to reality by reminding them that Paul and Apollos are merely servants of the Lord who are fulfilling their responsibilities of Christian service. Paul was the planter and Apollos was the one who watered. Then Paul declares that God is the one who gives the growth. Resoundingly Paul trumpets the truth in verse 7: “I am nothing and Apollos is nothing. God is everything! He is the one who brings the growth!”
It might be wise for every minister and every layperson to daily read these words and be reminded who is in charge.
We are nothing, and God is everything. This work of the church is not about me; it’s all about God and His Kingdom. My focus should be upon serving King Jesus. In order to do this successfully, I am going to have to get myself off the throne so that Christ may be glorified.
For me this is as fresh as today’s experience. I had preached what I felt was a strong message. People expressed their appreciation and commended my preaching. On the way home I was thinking to myself, “You really nailed that message this morning. You should feel good about that.” Then all at once God spoke to my heart. I stopped my direction of self-serving thought and said, “Okay, how well do you think you would do if the Lord took His hand off of you for one moment? Don’t ever forget that any success you have in the pulpit is not due to your ability to proclaim, but God’s ability to bless in ways that are beyond comprehension.” If there is any gold in this poor stammering tongue, it comes from God.
How can I be a Kingdom person unless my attitude is a Kingdom attitude? My primary aim must be to build God’s Kingdom instead of my own. I was attending an evangelism conference in Alabama years ago when the preacher said, “Some of you folks talk a lot about what has happened in your church since you got there. What you need to do is go back to your previous churches and see what God has done since you left.” None of us is indispensable. We serve at the pleasure of our Master and He should get the glory, not us.
I believe that John the Baptist had this issue of attitude figured out just right. When John’s disciples saw everyone leaving their side to follow after Jesus, they asked John how he felt about it. John responded by saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” John 3:30. That’s what I’m talking about. That is a Kingdom mentality. It’s not all about me; it’s about our Lord, Jesus Christ. When we get that straight in our hearts and minds, then we will be able to get down to Kingdom business. We just might see the great revival we have been praying for.
White is executive director-treasurer of the Georgia Baptist Convention and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Empowering Kingdom Growth Task Force.