Monday, August 28, 2006

Can We Judge Faithfulness by Results?

The modern test for the success of anything is results. The stock market goes up or down based on the profit results for a company in a given quarter. Promotions and raises in the workplace are based on whether or not the employee produces results. Schools are given a certain level of federal and state funding based on results. I could go on and on. Everywhere we turn in the modern world the usefulness and value of something is based on results.

That may not be a bad thing in dealing with the things of the world, but we must be vigilant not to allow it to spill over into how we evaluate the work of the church. We must constantly remind ourselves that the church is not to work according to the ways of the world. A church should long to be faithful, and faithfulness cannot necessarily be measured by results.

There are two biblical examples that show this kind of worldly thinking cannot apply to the things of the Lord; Jereboam, king of Israel, and Jeremiah. 2 Kings 14:27 says that the Lord “saved them by the hand of Jereboam the son of Joash.” In today’s world, one may read this and think that Jereboam therefore must have been a faithful person, but that is not the case. Verse 24 says, “and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” In other words, the Lord used Jereboam to produce results, but by no means was Jereboam a faithful servant.

Then there was Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 7:27 the Lord tells Jeremiah, “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you.” So, here one may argue that Jeremiah was not faithful because he did not produce results in the lives of those to whom he prophesied. The reality is, however, that Jeremiah was faithful. He faithfully communicated God’s message whether people were listening or not. Of course, the Lord did bless Jeremiah with results long after his time. Many now read the book of Jeremiah and are changed by it. But, those results were not seen in his day.

So, let us be sure to measure faithfulness by whether or not a person, or a church, is faithful, not by the results they may produce.

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