As a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, faithful pastor, you know a great many things. “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren” (I John 3:14). “We know love” (3:16). “We know that we are of the truth” (3:19). “We know that He abides in us” (3:24).
But there is so much we do not know. Here is a partial list….
1) You do not know what people in your congregation are going through.
You know some of what several are experiencing. But even with those closest to you, so much of their personal lives is hidden from all but God.
2) You do not know what God is doing in each life.
It’s like the wind which blows, said our Lord to Nicodemus. “It blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes” (John 3:8).
3) You do not know the plans the Lord has for each one.
“What about him?” said Peter to the Lord, pointing to John. “What is that to you?” said Jesus. “You follow me” (John 21:21-22).
4) You do not know exactly who is sitting in your congregation.
Recently, before I stood to preach, the pastor introduced me to each member of his congregation. Perhaps there were thirty present. I said, “When the church grows to 200, I want to see you do that!” He vowed that he would. But most cannot.
5) You do not know how God has brought them to this moment.
See the above reference to John 3:8 again.
6) You do not know what struggles each is enduring.
Not everyone tells you their problems, and not all wear their pain on public display.
7) You do not know how God is going to use you today.
We must approach every sermon as though this were life and death for some, for it may well be.
8) You do not know which word of yours God will use to prick their hearts, convict them of sin, strengthen their faith, and bring them to Jesus.
9) You do not know how inadequate you are.
And that’s all right. I imagine if we knew we would be so discouraged, we would quit. “Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves, but our adequacy is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). It’s all about Jesus.
10) You do not know what potential you have.
The One who created you and redeemed you has called you into His service. Now, expect Him to empower you and do wonderful things through you.
11) You do not know which sermons of your (and which visitations, counseling, witnessing, notes of encouragement, or gifts) will bear the most fruit and be most used of the Holy Spirit.
I love this little reminder from Ecclesiastes 11:6. “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”
12) You do not know what God can do with your pitiful sermon.
But it’s fun to find out!
You walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Unless you are willing to give the Lord your best effort and then leave the results with Him, you will not last in this work. If you require that the fruit for your labors must always be visible and measurable, one of two things will happen, both of them bad: you will either lose heart and quit or you will become a manipulator of congregations.
You will not know until you get to Heaven how God has used you.
You will be rewarded at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14). What we have to ask ourselves is: Can I wait that long? Can I believe that strong? Can I sing that song?
Say this to yourself repeatedly until its promise becomes part of the very marrow of your bones: “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love that you have shown toward His name in having ministered to the saints, and in still ministering.” (Hebrews 6:10)
Go forward by faith, friend. “Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we don’t quit” (Galatians 6:9).
Publication date: September 16, 2015
Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.