People love to be successful. We love to accomplish a task, see the fruit of our labor, see results, and know we were successful. No one likes to fail. No one likes to set out to do something and fall flat on their face. No one likes to aim to achieve something and miss.
The church is no different. We love to see our programs, missions, events, and efforts succeed. We judge them on how successful they were at meeting our expectations.
Is there anything wrong with doing that? Not really. Can it be dangerous, even harmful? Absolutely.
We have been called to be faithful not successful. There are several passages that show the importance of being faithful.
"If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
"...be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
I can't help but think of the story of the talents found in Matthew 25. We know the story-a man was going on a long journey and entrusted servants with talents. He gave one 5, one 2, and the other 1. The one who had 5 made 5 more. The one who had 2 made 2 more. But the one who was given 1 went out and buried it for fear that the master was "a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed" (Matthew 25:24). Because of his laziness and lack of being faithful in what he was given, the third servant was cast into "the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30).
God expects us to USE what he has given us--abilities, money, opportunities, everything. I'm convinced that if these men had LOST some of the master's money he wouldn't have treated them like the third servant. God expects us to be faithful not successful.
If we have been commanded to do something we need to do it. Sometimes we aren't going to have success. For example, we can't reach every lost person. A poor reaction to this "failure" would be to cease doing what we were commanded to do-take the truth to the world. We may need to modify HOW we are doing the commandment, but never the WHAT.
Jonathan Germany, associate minister at Holly Hill church of Christ in Frankfort, KY.
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