“Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
Now he who plants and he who waters are one,
All believers are one in ministry, for we do the same work. The unity (“one”) here is that of unity in labor together. There should be no rivalry in ministry. The idea is that there is diversity in our unity in ministry – one ministry but different gifts. We are one in ministry, so there is equality in ministry. Division is the issue in the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians, so unity in ministry is one solution to that schism. The planter and the person who waters are in the same ministry.
and each one will receive his own reward
Every believer is in God’s schema for ministry. God will reward each and every believer for service. The word “reward” conveys the idea of reward for manual work. The idea is reimbursement, recompense, payment. God gives this reward according to the kind of gift He bestowed on us. If we are faithful to that gift, then He awards us accordingly. A so-called lesser gift such as the gift of “helps” is subject to as much reward as the gift of “evangelism.” God will give rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where only believers stand under God’s evaluation (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:12).
according to his own labor.
There is no condemnation at the Judgment Seat of Christ (for believers) like there is for the Great White Throne Judgment (for non-believers). Believers will be evaluated based on a standard. The phrase “according to his own labor” means according to the norm or standard of his own labor. The word “labor” means labor to the point of weariness. The rule of reward is not how much giftedness God gave us but whether we gave our all in using that gift. Note that God rewards our “labor,” not the fruit of our labor. The fruit is in God’s hands.
God will evaluate us based on our own gift, not someone else’s gift.
All God expects of us is to do what we can with what we have. He does not expect more. People with greater capacity will be evaluated for reward according to that capacity. Therefore, it is wrong to compare ourselves to others with greater capacity. We are to complement each other in ministry rather than compete in ministry. Giving $10 may be subject to as much reward as giving $10,000. The issue is faithfulness to the capacity that God gave us.