This past Sunday we worked through the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christ followers in Corinth. What a gracious and caring letter! When wisdom gets the better of us on our life journey, we appreciate the loving correction that crosses our paths. I’m grateful that the Spirit has left us Paul’s letter to teach and guide us about many matters that are still relevant in 2017.
In the third chapter, Paul wraps up his first loving correction. He basically says to the Corinthians, “Don’t boast in men. Rather, boast in Christ!” The Corinthian Christians had attached themselves to their “favourite” preachers and divisive strife ensued.
More specifically, Paul concludes his first loving correction with the simple plea to “Grow up!” You can hear the full message here. For sake of time, we weren’t able to cover everything. So I’d like to touch on two more points–one today and one more in a later blog entry. I pray that they are an encouragement to your daily walk with Christ this week.
Take It Day by Day by God’s Grace
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
As we seek to grow in our faith and our Christ-likeness, take it day by day. Where do we see this idea? Paul uses the metaphor of gardening to help us understand how we grow. Paul says that he planted gospel seeds, that Apollos, another minister of the gospel, watered the seeds. And then Paul emphasizes that God gave the growth.
What is Paul saying? God’s grace is working tirelessly in your life behind the scenes.
Let me compare it to my kids and gardening. One of their favourite past times is welcoming spring with their grandmother by preparing the vegetable garden. Their favourite plant to grow is the tomato plant. They do the hard work of tilling, sowing the seeds, and placing labels. Then, most impressively, they go out after breakfast before school to water the plants and check on the growth (I wish they would clean their toys and rooms with equal dedication!).
Without fail for the first few months, however, they come in with disappointment. “No tomatoes yet. Why aren’t they growing, dad?”
I tell them every time, “You can’t fast forward a tomato!”
But what we do know is that God is working 24/7 to cause that plant to grow through the wonders of photosynthesis and other processes. And then one day, it’s almost as if the tomato just suddenly appears!
Similarly, you can’t fast forward your maturity. Our Lord himself tells a parable in the fourth chapter of Mark’s gospel that speaks to this.
“26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.” ~Jesus, Mark 4
Here’s the point: God is doing things beyond your comprehension. His goodness surpasses your observation. He is growing you to Christ-likeness for his glory and your utmost joy. Jesus’ gospel of grace assures us that we can walk with this lightness. The gospels shouts, “Child of God, cast away any voices of condemnation and impossible perfectionism!” When we have a full vista of everything he was growing in our lives, we will be overcome with praise to God. So take it day by day by his grace.