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.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Recently our oldest daughter decided she wanted to become a gardener. She wanted to plant and grow a few spices in a planter in our backyard. So she did what all who are gardeners do – she went to the local home improvement store and bought, with my money, a small planter, some soil and fertilizer, and some seeds. Then she filled the planter with the soil and the seeds and began the process of watering and waiting, and watering and waiting, and waiting and waiting. Eventually, some green began to poke its way through the soil and a small spice plant slowly began to emerge. Success!

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Paul reminds us of our role in other people’s spiritual growth – we are the planters and the waterers. And he reminds us of God’s role – He is the grower. Knowing this moves us to adopt a posture of recognizing that while we do have an important part to play, we don’t get to control the ultimate outcomes. We don’t get to say how fast or slow someone’s growth will occur. We don’t get to say how much growth will occur. We don’t even have a guarantee that any growth will occur (how many of us have planted seeds that never grew?). What we get to do is plant and water. And wait, and wait, and wait, hoping that what we see is not what we’ll get.

As it is with gardening, so it is with the investments we make in the spiritual lives of others – it requires persistence and patience that is rooted in God’s desire and ability to bring growth, and it’s also based on a faith that knows that something is always going on beneath the surface, even if we can’t see it now. And what is true of the planting and watering we do in others’ lives is also true of the planting and watering they do in ours. Just like we are waiting to see some growth in “their lives,” so too they are waiting to see some growth in ours.

Regardless of whether you’re waiting to see growth in someone else’s life or your own, know that it is God who causes the growth and ask Him to help you wait well, remembering that what you see now is not what you’re going to get later.

Scott Smith
Connection and Growth Pastor

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