What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (NIV)
In the natural world in which we live and work, everything starts with and assignment. Some assignments are more glamorous than others, but it is an assignment nonetheless. If you have ever been without work or in between assignments, you may feel sort of out-of-place or unimportant when you sit in a busy airport or some other bustling place with so many people rushing to make their next connection. You may even hear outbursts of frustration or anger when some unforeseen delay causes the business person to miss his or her important appointment or assignment.
For some, their natural assignment defines them. Invariably, you will see people who deem their assignments as more important than others, treat others, with seemingly less important assignments, so rudely and in such a mean way. What I find interesting is that the so called ‘important’ person finds him or herself in a situation in which they cannot complete their task because someone they deem ‘unimportant’ has not yet completed theirs. This is usually when sparks begin to fly! But shouldn’t that tell us something? Every assignment is important in this life. If you have not discovered that yet, you will eventually find yourself in a situation soon where you are vulnerable to and dependent on the very task you may have ignorantly scoffed at!
I also found the TV show, Dirty Jobs, extremely interesting because the premise of the whole show was that in order for this old world to run, there are jobs that the so called ‘important’ people would refuse to do or even in some cases, probably don’t even know that such a job exists. Yet, there are those who on a daily basis, and without complaint, get up early in the morning and go out and milk the cows, feed the pigs, and harvest the crops in this great land of ours, and that is just to name a few. Being raised on a farm, I found it amazing that people from the city really thought that peanuts grew on trees! In this day and age, it wouldn’t surprise me if some people really thought that corn comes from Krogers.
If our natural assignment is so important, how important do you think our God-assignment is? Paul and Apollos where obviously very influential ministers of the gospel. So much so that people were identifying with the preacher instead of the God who makes things grow! Paul had to set them straight. While Paul was the one who planted the seed with the Corinthian, Apollos later came along and watered the seed. It should be noted here that preaching is planting, or when one hears the word for the fist time, and teaching is used to water the seed, when you hear the same thing again and again, maybe in a different light. Both Paul and Apollos were necessary for Christian growth even though they had very different functions in the Body of Christ. This diversity, as Paul admonished, should be a reason for unity and not a point of division.
In the grand scheme of things, Paul said that while each minister had a necessary function in God’s garden, it was ultimately God who made things grow or who gave the increase! Neither Paul or Apollos could make that happen! That is why in another famous Body lesson, Paul gives this warning, “Don’t think you are better than you really are; Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves …” (Rom. 12:3 NLT). The Word has a way of tearing down our egos in order that we may have a healthy evaluation, or a God-estimation, of ourselves! Notice Paul’s estimation of he and Apollos. He said, we are “Only servants, through whom you came to believe.” No matter how large the following, we are and always will be “only servants.” Paul goes on to say that neither he who plants or he who waters “was anything, but only God who makes things grow.” With this instruction, he took the focus off of the servants and placed it on God where it should have been all along.
That was the healthy yet humbling part, but the edifying part is that they ministered “as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” Think back to the busy airport I described earlier. Now how should we feel about ourselves next time the sharp dressed business man with is attaché case rushes by to catch his flight? Naturally speaking, he may be responsible for millions of dollars and thousands of employees, but if the God of the universe has Given me a task, then which is more important? I would rather be God’s servant any day, than man’s executive! We should never again feel unimportant or let the devil sell us the lies of low self-esteem.
In fact, Paul drives another very important point home, “Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around” (Rom. 12:3 MSG). Here again is a healthy evaluation of one’s self. We don’t give meaning to the Body, but we derive our meaning from the Body. The verse of all verses when it come to explaining our God-assignment is this: “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor. 12:18 NIV). That is our God-assignment as well as our God-placement, and when you grasp that truth, it will revolutionize your life!
We should never again be jealous of the person beside us at church even though he or she may appear to be in the limelight at the time, for God has placed or arranged each of us in the body as it has pleased him! We must trust in our placement in the Body because it is God’s doing. We also must trust God with our function in the body as well. Just as each part in the natural body has a unique, specific function, so do we in the Body of Christ. That is why, Paul further admonishes us to “go ahead and be what we were made to be” rather than “trying to be something we aren’t” (Rom. 12:4 MSG). In other words, function according to the function or gift that God has entrusted you with! That is a healthy evaluation, and that is how God wants us to see ourselves. So let’s go ahead and start functioning in our God-assignment today. Not only will you be blessed in so doing, but others around you will be too!