“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:8–9, AV)
Years ago, I worked for a company that sold industrial printing equipment. As their Manager of Technical Service in the United States, I had the job of supervision of the installation of a multi-million-dollar press. The project took nearly three months and involved a crew of various trades people, plumbers, electricians, riggers, millwrights, start-up technicians, etc. It was an interesting project, keeping up with all these people and coordinating with the customer. The point is that each member of the team had a specific role in the completion of the finished machine and each person received financial compensation in proportion to their contribution.
Paul brings up two universal truths in this passage. The first one is that when people are engaged in one work, they function as one. The team of people that I had on the printing press installation were working together for the same goal, to end up with a functioning printing press. Here, Paul indicated that both Apollos and he were one, working with the same goal. They were working to bring those in Corinth to faith and to grow in Christlikeness.
In today’s church we can often forget that we are working for one main goal. That is to fulfill the Great Commission. This commission is to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and grow in that relationship to become more like Jesus. Thus, all believers in the local church and all those true believers in the universal church (all truly regenerated believers worldwide) are working with one goal in mind and thus are one. This does not mean that churches must affiliate with churches that are not preaching the full truth of God’s word. It does mean that we should be working in harmony with other true believers in the work of the Great Commission.
The second truth is that we do reap that which we sow. Paul stated, “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” Every one of the crew that worked on installing the machine received pay that was commensurate to the work they did. It is the same way, but even better in the work of the Great Commission. There is a day coming when every believer will be seen at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). There, he or she will receive their just due for the works done. The good shall be rewarded.
The interesting thing about being rewarded for good works is that we could not do one good work if it were not for God’s grace. We know that God has saved us and created us in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10). Furthermore, we know that for us to do a good work, we need God’s provision of grace. Later in the letter to the Corinthians Paul stated it like this.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10, AV)
Thus, we must conclude that we are greatly blessed by God. He gives us an opportunity to work with others in the Great Commission. By His grace, he provides everything we need to succeed in it. Moreover, He rewards us for the good works we have done even though it is He who makes our success possible. Give glory to God.