On Faithfulness and Fruitfulness

One of the most heartbreaking passages in all of Scripture is Ezekiel 22:29-30 in which God says, “The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery, and they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have oppressed the stranger without justice. I searched for a man among them who would build up a wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” In a dark and bleak situation, God was looking for the right person at the right place at the right time. And no one was to be found.

What will He find when he sees the pain and darkness of our world and looks inside the windows of our church? You, and I, and we are not here by chance but because God chose us to fulfill His purposes for our generation. As was demonstrated during worship on Sunday, within our congregation there literally rests a new song to sing. I suspect there is also a book to be written, a business to be started, a ministry to be launched, a person on the outside waiting to be cared for and loved. And you may be the person to stand in the gap, here and now.

But we should also take a measure of caution when we think about calling. Our culture-- and Christian subculture is no exception-- has a tendency to promote hero worship. We get drawn to the brightest lights and the biggest personalities and the most glamourous trappings of success. We start to pursue a work for the Lord out of a sense of purpose and eventually become slaves to the measures and metrics of progress. Or perhaps we begin to that think that because we were the ones called, we must then do it all on our own and do it all our way. We replace the humility of the old rugged cross with the bravado of rugged individualism. Many aspire to have the global reach and platform of an apostle Paul. But the love of Christ would have far greater reach if we also had a few more people willing to be an Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25).

God spoke to Jeremiah saying he was consecrated and appointed for a prophetic purpose before his birth (Jeremiah 1:4). So, naturally he was going to be a huge success, right? Surely the people he was called to would respond to his message from God, and he would land on the front cover of Jerusalem Today as Prophet of the Year. Except, that’s not exactly what happened. He spent more time in a dungeon than a palace, and when the royal assignment finally did come, his message fell on deaf ears. The sense of crushing failure and disappointment was so devastating he felt like God had betrayed him and had flung arrows into his own body (Lamentations 3). How will you respond when years into your calling, you feel something of Jeremiah’s pain and the frustration of unmet expectations and unfulfilled dreams?

When Jesus spoke the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30), he didn’t praise the servants who returned with five and two talents for their fruitfulness; he praised them for their faithfulness. We don’t know if we will be the ones to clear the rocks and break the ground, the ones who plant and water the seeds, the ones who tend the soil and pull out the weeds, or the ones who will reap the harvest. Each role and responsibility is essential but we must stay focused on being faithful, knowing it is ultimately the movement of the Spirit of God and the condition of the hearts of those we seek to reach and to serve that will determine our fruitfulness. Whatever lays in store for us, let us count the cost and together take the first steps in obedience to Him who calls us. “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

by Steve Lamp
Steve and his wife Melissa began attending Kingsway in 2014. Not normally prone to public displays of emotion, he wept during the first worship service and knew he had found home. As an avid reader, Steve believes the ideas we allow into our minds are critical to our spiritual formation. He enjoys exploring nature, playing and spending time with his two young sons and over-quoting his favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard.

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