Listen to today’s devo!

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. (Rev. 3:2)

The leadership team met on a dark winter’s night to pat themselves on the back. The previous two years had been extremely difficult for churches in the area. Most had declined in attendance; many suffered financial loss; several were devoid of pastoral leadership; some had closed their doors entirely.

This congregation, however, had faired considerably well. They had a forward-thinking pastor, and financial giving had even increased during the crisis. Three years earlier, they had been the “new kid” in town—a fledgling church plant, ready to show everyone how ministry should be done. With enthusiastic passion, despite the odds, they had worked feverishly to develop the best music, the most exciting youth programs, and the most comfortable environment for newcomers. Their efforts paid off. In a world of dying churches—“It’s their own fault,” they affirmed—they had survived. And wasn’t survival in such times proof of God’s favor?

It is tempting to believe that good results, especially “kingdom-building” ones, automatically evoke divine applause. The first-century church in Sardis had a reputation for being alive, but its true effectiveness was only skin-deep. God looks far beyond what humans find impressive. From his perspective, good works are “unfinished”—and must be repented of—if they do not reflect the attitude, character, and compassion of Christ.

Examine the motives behind what you do for the kingdom of God.

Laura Hurd is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and holds a master’s degree from Wesley Seminary. She pastors with her husband, Jason, in rural Nebraska.

© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.