Gospel gardening

Week beginning: 13th October, 2019 | By Phil Roberts | London

"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. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building."

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NIVUK)

As lawyers the prospect of sharing the gospel with our friends and colleagues can seem very intimidating. What if our submissions fall on deaf or apathetic ears? What if our advocacy is unpersuasive?

Paul's horticultural metaphor helps to put things into perspective for us: Paul and Apollos had each played his role with the avowed purpose of growing and maturing the "crop" of Christians in Corinth. But farmers don't actually make anything grow – they merely create the conditions to facilitate growth by planting and watering. Hence those important words in v7: "but only God". Only God makes things grow.

The planter and irrigator each has their own complementary function, co-operating with the same result in view. So one Christian may tell you the good news in the first place. Another may provide you with real encouragement when life gets tough. Yet another may open your eyes to new areas of Christian service. But at every stage it is the Holy Spirit working through imperfect humans who is really responsible for the growth, for the maturity. And that should be a great relief for us as lawyers. Evangelism is not about our advocacy skills. We're not labouring in our own strength; we are not even labouring in our own field. It's God's field and we are co-workers in His service.

Prayer Points:

1.  Give thanks for the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing Christians to maturity.

2. Pray for the unity and cohesion of God's people in a divided nation and a divided world.