Many of us grew up with a ‘negative’ faith: Don’t do this or that; don’t say this or that; don’t visit that place or think that thought. In other words, we don’t want to create sin or fall into sin. But if our focus is on consistently not doing something, at the end of our life all we have done is … nothing. We may have been faithful but have we really been fruitful? We’ll have been like dead people walking with nothing to show for our time on the earth.
A corpse doesn’t ”sin.” But does a corpse display the glory of God? Is a corpse fruitful – accomplishing the basic commands of the Lord to His followers and thus to the Church? Of course not. Jesus defined fruitfulness as being a necessary part of faithfulness. And, fruitfulness comes out of intentional obedience to the things the Lord has commanded.
Luke 13:6-8 “Then Jesus told them this parable: “There was a man who planted a fig tree in his orchard. But when he came to gather fruit from his tree he found none, for it was barren and had no fruit. So he said to his gardener, ‘For the last three years I’ve come to gather figs from my tree but it remains fruitless. What a waste! Go ahead and cut it down!’
“But the gardener said, ‘Sir, we should leave it one more year. Let me fertilize and cultivate it, then let’s see if it will produce fruit.’”
We have made Jesus Lord of our lives. This means we are to obey everything He has commanded us to do (Matthew 28:20). If life is about obeying and, as a result, accomplishing a very particular task, the “obedience” and the “right thing to do” (James 4:17) must mean accomplishing that one particular task – seeking first the Kingdom, bearing fruit in His Name, and in the words of Titus 3:14, being devoted “to doing what is good.”
Is I send an employee to a gas station to fill the gas tank of a company car and they return to the office saying, “I had a great conversation with Skip. I washed the windshield. I picked up some litter in the parking lot. And I even brought back donuts for the entire office” but he didn’t fill the gas tank, has he really been obedient? He may have done some good and noble things, but those other things got in the way of the first thing.
Worse, if he added, “And you should be proud of me because I didn’t steal from anyone, run over anyone, gossip about anyone, or lie to anyone.”
Fine, but did you fill the gas tank?” That’s why you were sent out.
We are a people with a mission. A people on a mission. And, that mission is not simply to avoid the wrong things. That mission is to seek first the Kingdom and do all that the King has commanded us to do. His generic commands to the Church, His people. And, His specific commands to each unique believer. Anything or anyone that keeps us from fulfilling the mission is a danger to our being fruitful and thus obeying the Lord.
We should not focus on our own safety, comfort, or security. The purpose of life is not to protect our joy, our peace, our reputation, or even our sanity even though these are all good things. The Christian life is primarily about protecting our mission, avoiding things and people who distract us and cause our focus to be on other things. Jesus has commanded that we live life that are fruitful for His cause.
We are enlisted in a great cause and called to do great things for Jesus. We don’t have time to be distracted by clever or even wounded people who soak up all our energy and efforts in any other cause. There are many worthy things we can embrace and accomplish but are they seriously a part of the cause, the Kingdom? We must keep our eyes on the Kingdom, seeking it first and foremost. Many times we pour ourselves out on people and things that keep us from this one cause and primary focus. Pouring ourselves out on ‘other things’ is spiritually like trying to wash rain. It’s a waste of time that keeps us from more fruitful endeavours.
We are saved to be fruitful as we seek first the Kingdom. We are saved to bear fruit, good fruit. Our story from Luke 13 ends with this verse … “If it doesn’t bear fruit by next year, we’ll cut it down.’” (Luke 13:9).
That is a comment worth thinking deeply about.
Your Kingdom work does matter. You need to know this, feel this, live this, to be rightfully protected from people and things that try to distract you and take your focus off of the Kingdom. You may not be widely recognized as God’s worker, but just as wars are won through the secret sacrifices of unknown soldiers, so God’s Kingdom is built on the backs of quiet and faithful servants. What you do for the Kingdom matters.
It is time to do the right thing – not just any thing or even everything. The right thing!