They say that “old” is a relative term. “You are as old as you think…
Epistles are letters, and the apostle Paul wrote a lot of them. Some of his harshest criticisms and most beautiful words are in his first epistle to the Corinthian believers. They were having trouble with envy, strife, and divisions. Does that sound like any churches you know of? But God didn’t condemn them or write them off. Instead, He inspired His servant, Paul, to instruct them in how to overcome these problems.
When one group bragged about being followers of Apollos, another one flaunted the fact that they followed Paul. But God pointed out that it didn’t really matter who did what. They were all in this together, and God’s part was the most important.
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (I Corinthians 3:5-7). I added the underlining to show you that we get a double whammy here for emphasis.
Our part is being faithful to what we have been called to do, and the results are God’s doing. We don’t need to be following men, but God. It’s His work, His harvest, His plan.
And what is His main concern? I think it is that we serve Him humbly with love. I’ve recently written about that basic “bottom line” called love. (See blog from March 9, 2023.) And here it is again. In this crucial letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded to exercise our various gifts with love. That’s the message of chapter 13, which we refer to as “the love chapter.”
Paul eloquently says, “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:2-3).
In other words, love makes all the difference, and that love comes from God. I may plant seeds, or water seeds, but only God can cause them to grow. And if I don’t do that planting or watering or weeding or mulching with love, what good is it? I may fall short, or even fail. But God never does. And He redeems our weak efforts in order to accomplish His purposes. Aren’t you glad for that?