“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. Rabbi Tarfon
Are you a recognition seeker? Do view your self-worth in being told what a great job you did? Are you a “I need it NOW” person?
A pat on the back?
Instant gratification is certainly a popular lens that the our society looks through.
I’m one of those people that likes to see the results of his labor. I expect to see all the pieces fit together. Nicely. Neatly. In my time. NOW! (Read PRIDE into that).
But is it God’s view?
His word tells us that faith is having hope in the things unseen.
I spent my first few years in recovery from addiction really wanting to bring others into recovery. Giving talks to groups, doing one on one with others brought very few into recovery.
And as a Christian, I brought even fewer into the arms of a loving Jesus.
Consequently, all my efforts and time spent helping others and not seeing lives being transformed caused me to doubt myself. I became bitter and resentful of those whose witness brought people into the fold. Experiencing an unmet need to be one of those who brought the broken to redemption left me feeling unworthy. (read more PRIDE).
I’ve come to know that expectations based on pride don’t get us very far. And quite frankly, studies show that the “human religious effort” of churches, with their varying theologies, don’t bring us much closer to a meaningful and engaging encounter with Jesus.
Certainly we need churches and the many good things they do, for the many fine ministries they provide.
But what we need more is to be planters for Jesus. Seed-people for God. To be willing to proclaim the gospel, yet with the understanding that we may never see the fruits of our labors.
Tough assignment for those of us that are results oriented.
God doesn’t present himself as one that provides us with “instant gratification.” But he does desire us to overcome the discouragement and hardships that often occur in bringing his word to the lives of others.
We are to do whatever it takes. To accept that we may never see the fruits of our works.
Are you willing to be a seed planter?
Even if you never see the fruit of your planting? Seeding and harvesting can be lifetimes apart.
There’s a wonderful illustration of deferred fulfillment in the story of the medical missionary, Dr. William Leslie who, in the early 1900’s lived with tribal people in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Seventeen years later, he returned to the U.S. a discouraged man – believing he failed to make an impact for Christ. He died nine years after his return.
But in 2010, a team led by Eric Ramsey with Tom Cox World Ministries made a shocking and sensational discovery. They found a network of reproducing churches hidden like glittering diamonds in the dense jungle across the Kwilu River from Vanga, where Dr. Leslie was stationed.
The Bible presents us with more stories of deferred fulfillment.
Looking at the first martyr, Stephen, a man filled with the spirit of God, a man full of courage, we can see how his brief life influenced the early church. See Acts 6-7.
Although. he never brought one person to Christ during his life, he stood against the human religious effort of the patriarchs of the day and was stoned to death for it.
It is said that his prayer of forgiveness for those who participated in his stoning brought about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
Stephen did not see the fruits of his life’s work. Nevertheless, his godly character guided him in never waning in his love for God and in proclaiming God’s word.
Think about Moses, the man whom God knew face to face. He was tasked to lead his people out of bondage, through the wilderness and to the Promised Land. Yet, Moses was not permitted to enter the very destination he led them to.
We may never reach our destination during our lifetime. We may not see all our dreams fulfilled. But if we slip into the dusty sandals and with faith and obedience, travel the road God assigns us, we can be assured that our efforts will bear the fruit of our labors.
Are you a seed-person?