“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Only God is anything.
It isn’t about us.
It is all about Him, because He is everything.
All glory, all honor, all worth, all strength, all power, all praise is His. It is all Him. Our great God who reigns in glory, majesty, and sovereignty over all creation as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
He is everything.
We are not.
We are loved greatly.
In Christ, we are rescued from darkness, purchased from sin and death at great cost, when all we deserve is the terrible wrath of a just and righteous God.
We are made alive.
We are recreated as God’s workmanship, made new and continually built up into the image of Christ.
We are forgiven of deep, dark, evil sin that stained all of our hearts irreparably – with no cure except Christ.
We are cleansed and made beautiful, the stain taken away. All vestiges of it gone because Jesus took it on Himself.
We are His. Restored in relationship to the God of heaven and brought near as His children.
All of this is true if we have placed our faith and hope in the great salvation worked by God through the death and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus.
But none of it is because we are anything.
That is what makes this salvation so great.
It’s easy to get caught up in our culture and seek to build up our view of ourselves as worthy, to build up the idea of what we have to offer.
But this can undermine our view of the greatness of God’s salvation and our view of the greatness and glory of Him.
We are nothing. He is everything. Yet the infinite God of all the universe, who created and reigns over all things in perfection and righteousness and a fullness we cannot even grasp apart from Him – He loves us, He died in our place, He draws us to Himself, and He saves our dead and wicked souls at great cost to Himself while we can offer Him nothing.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:1-9
Saved as a gift so that no one may boast.
Immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in the coming ages – because He sees we are worthy of that? No. It isn’t because we’re worthy or great that we have this to come in eternity; it is because He is great and His grace is astoundingly glorious in His love for us.
Why does He love us so greatly, so deeply, so steadfastly?
He loves us like that because He does.
God has set His heart in love on us and He never changes. It has nothing to do with our worth and effort.
He just does.
Isn’t that amazing?
If we had anything to offer or contribute, it might make us feel stronger and better about ourselves, but oh, how much it takes away from how glorious our God is and how greatly loved we are. It takes away the wonder.
The gospel doesn’t build us up.
It saves us and reveals to us how great He is.
As I was thinking through this, my husband suggested an analogy that was helpful to me. We have a car sitting in the parking lot of a service center right now. The engine is irreparable, so it can’t run. It would cost more to repair than we would get out of it. So at this point, it’s only worth the salvage yard. It sits there, useless, no good to anyone, dead. It likely can’t even crank up to get moved from one spot to another.
But let’s say a mechanic purchases it. He knows the issues, pays the price, and begins work, skillfully replacing and repairing the brokenness. The car begins to run. It’s brought to life, made new, and able to be used for the mechanic’s purposes.
None of that was in the car’s own merit. It contributed nothing. Yet it was given life, purpose, and value at the cost and effort of someone who didn’t have to.
God does this for us (to a much greater extent).
Even though we are nothing. Even though He has no need of us. And even though we were enemies who, until He opened our eyes to it, didn’t see or care about His glory or recognize the great lengths He went to so we could know freedom, salvation, and wholeness in relationship with Him
There was only one way for our salvation, and this amazing God satisfied both His holy justice and His mercy through the sacrifice of Himself. Great cost for the sins we committed, the rebellion we actively participated in. A cost that was paid willingly to the great glory of God, entirely accomplished by Him and in His sovereign will.
It is all Him.
Far from this realization resulting in us getting caught up in shame or self-abasement, I pray it will open your heart up to know how very much you are loved.
May this realization free us from focusing on ourselves and missing Him.
May it free us from placing our value and worth on what we are able to do, so we can rest and humbly, confidently rejoice in the beautiful reality that we are fully loved by the great, magnificent God who has chosen to love us, save us, work in and through us for His glory, and ultimately present us blameless before Himself with great joy.
May it free us to live in wonder and whole-hearted, whole-life worship of Him.