“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt. 7:20)
Expanded Passage: Matthew 7:13-27
“You’re not doing it right!” Chances are good that you have either voiced or heard this complaint leveled either at your own congregation or another. The complaint stems from dissatisfaction with the ways we “do church.” Some leaders hear that their preaching is too casual; others are told it’s too formal. Some members protest that the church sings too many worship songs; others complain that it sings too few. There are not enough programs; there are too many programs.
When we voice such complaints, as most of us have, we’re judging the church by how it does what it does. We’re critiquing the church’s strategy rather than evaluating the result.
Jesus gave only one criterion for judging the effectiveness of any ministry: its fruit. So the real question is not how we do ministry, but what is the result? Are sinners saved? Are believers sanctified? Is good news preached to the poor? Do widows and orphans, the helpless of society, receive help and hope? Are prisoners set free, the sick healed, the hungry fed, and the homeless sheltered? If so, then the kingdom has truly come. If not, well, the songs we sing won’t matter much when Jesus returns to find his work undone.
Lord, grant that we may judge our work by the richness of the fruit, not the color of the leaves.
Pray for your pastor today.
Lawrence W. Wilson lives in rural Indiana where he enjoys cycling, yard work, and reading a wide assortment of books. He is a freelance writer and editor, and coauthor of The Long Road Home (WPH).
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.