Summary: As the Lord ordained and created the church, He placed individuals with varied gifts in the church as it pleased Him. Such diversity of gifts is essential for the church to function and prosper. We must embrace such diversity and celebrate these gifts.
The Benefit of Diversity
1 Corinthians 3: 5-9
As we continue our series – Church: A New Testament Model, I was reminded of the various gifts and abilities within the church. Every believer is gifted of the Spirit for service within the body of Christ, and yet all are not gifted the same. This stands to reason, and our Lord, through His infinite wisdom, has gifted and placed individuals within the body as it pleased Him.
Paul was well aware of the great need and benefit for diversity within the church. In order for her to function effectively, she needed a diversity of gifts. 1 Cor.12:14 – For the body is not one member, but many. 1 Cor.12:18-20 – But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body. He encouraged and promoted diversity within the church, especially regarding spiritual gifts.
The church was ordained of Christ our Lord, being His body. He created a sovereign design for the church that included a wide variety of gifts and abilities. In order for us to prosper, we too must recognize and embrace the need for diversity within the church. I want to examine the certainties within our text as we consider: The Benefit of Diversity.
I. The Challenge in Diversity (5) – Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? Paul was convinced of the benefit of diversity within the church, and he was also aware of the challenges it presented. Consider:
A. The Tendency of the Flesh (5a) – Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos? While ministering in Corinth, a dispute regarding loyalty and leadership became apparent. Some had been led to the Lord through the ministry of Paul, and others through the work of Apollos. No doubt some favored the personality and approach to ministry of one over the other. A division among the people had developed over which preacher to follow. This division was not caused by differences in doctrine, but largely through preferences and personalities.
These tendencies remain in the church today. Many divisions have formed within the church primarily over preferences and individual personalities. Some favor one leader or worker, and others favor someone else. As we will discover, this is not pleasing to the Lord and it only creates a hindrance within the church. The scope of our vision is not centered on individuals within the church, but following the will of God and His plan for our lives.
B. The Reality of our Faith (5b) – Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? Paul urged the people to consider their actions. There was nothing special or supernatural about him or Apollos. They were both just men, called of God to minister to the church. If the people were focused, or depending upon Paul or Apollos instead of the Lord, they had missed it. They were mere mortals, seeking to be used of God in ministry. The loyalty of the people needed to be toward the Lord, not men.
We need to embrace this reality as well. While God does use men to fulfill His purpose within the church, our dependence doesn’t rest in men. We should never be divided over whom we support in one area of ministry, because we are all dependent upon the Lord. Like those in Corinth, our loyalty must be to Christ the Lord, not individuals within the church! 2 Cor.4:7 – But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
II. The Concession in Diversity (6-7) – Here Paul humbly admits his dependence upon the Lord while acknowledging the contributions of others. He conceded that ministry required the power of God and the contributions of many. Consider:
A. The Participation (6a) – I have planted, Apollos watered. Paul emphasized the cooperation between himself and Apollos. He often planted the seeds of the Gospel, and Apollos came along behind and watered those seeds. Both aspects of ministry were essential to fruit being produced, and without the work of both, the work would not have prospered. While they had different gifts and abilities, both were essential to the work of ministry. One was not more important than the other.
I am aware that God doesn’t need any of us to accomplish His purposes, but I am glad He chooses to use us individually. Some positions and tasks are more noticeable than others, but that doesn’t mean they are more important in the scope of ministry. Some of us are called to plant seeds, and others are gifted to come along and water them later. Both are essential in producing fruit for the Lord.