Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "And Can It Be That I Should Gain"1 (Lyrics)
1 Corinthians 3:6 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. (NKJV)
During this past spring and summer, I travelled in the area where we live to lead services in different Presbyterian churches. There is a lot of cultivated farm land in this area, and it seems that the majority of the crops being grown are corn, sometimes called maize. Obviously, because of the size of the corn plants, their growth is the most visible.
Early in the spring, after the snow was gone and the fields were dry enough to work, the black soil was turned over and made ready for seeding. For a few weeks, there was no change and no sign of growth, but suddenly, long rows of little sprouts appeared. As time went by, these grew, and every week, they were taller. By the end of August, in some fields, they reached a height of at least five feet (close to two metres). After the soil had been prepared and the seeds were sown, the farmer did not appear to be doing anything. The rains fell, the weather was warm, and the plants grew. God gives the increase.
Jesus told a parable about this:
Mark 4:26-28 – And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head." (NKJV)
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, a section just before today's verse, Paul reminds the people in Corinth that they were not very spiritual people when he first came, and that he had to feed them with milk, as it were: easy-to-digest spiritual talk. He even accuses them of still not being able to receive the solid food of the gospel in those early days. Paul had gone to Corinth to tell the people about Christ, planting the seed of the Word. Apollos had stayed there to explain it to them some more, watering the Word, but God gave the increase.
Many of us have taught our children about Christ in our homes. We have planted the seeds, and then, as time went by, others strengthened the growth of those seeds, as we ourselves did, too, in church, at Sunday School, in Christian youth groups. A number of them, sadly not all, became faithful Christian people. We planted, others watered, and God gave the increase.
To those who are planting, keep up the good work. To those who are nourishing the faith, don't be discouraged, because God will give the increase in His time.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we marvel at the growth of nature all around us, but we are also thankful for the spiritual growth in fellow believers. We thank You for those who planted the seeds of faith and for others who nourished them. Most of all, we thank You, in Jesus' name, for giving the increase. Amen.