6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
Paul uses an analogy of a field being planted and tended by workers to illustrate the concept of the minister (or “diakonos”, deacon) from verse 5.
A person who owned a field would hire workers to do most of the work required. Hired workers would break the ground, plant the seeds, water the field, fertilize, remove the weeds, and harvest the crops when the time came. The field belongs to the owner. Therefore the harvest belongs to the owner. The workers are compensated for their labor that is invested in the crop that is produced.
In verse 8, Paul writes that each worker will receive a “reward according to his own labor”. The word “reward” comes from the Greek word “misthos” meaning “dues paid for work”. The hired workers are paid for their labor. They are rewarded based on their contribution to planting, tending, and harvesting the crop. The crop belongs to the field owner to sell for a profit.
Jesus tells us that He will bring a reward that will be distributed based on the work that we have done for Him… And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. ( Revelation 22:11-12)
As our reward, treasures will be stored in heaven for us… Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
Jesus indicated that there are many people that need to hear the message of the gospel … Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
God wants us all to take part in the labor so that we can all take part in the rewards. We are each called to the role of minister, or deacon, as it is used by Paul in this chapter. We are to be the teachers and doers of His word throughout the earth. In doing so, we become God’s fellow workers; working alongside one another for a common purpose of spreading the seed of the gospel and discipling those that choose to accept the salvation that is offered.
The earth is much like a very large field. God desires to grow something… Christians. God wants everyone to hear the gospel message and become a believer. He wants the believers to grow through studying His word and developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. As the believers grow into disciples, they will begin to plant the seeds of the gospel in unbelievers and help other believers grow into disciples. As fellow workers, we should all be striving to represent God in our daily lives and tend to the fields that surround us. It is not we that generate the increase, it is God who provides the increase. Our role is to simply represent Him in all that we do.
“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)
May you dedicate your days, weeks, months and years to building up the kingdom of Heaven by tending the fields that God has placed around you as you look forward, with anxious anticipation, to taking your place alongside your fellow workers in eternity.