I love the energy that newly born-again Christians bring to the church and the ministry. The fire in their hearts and eagerness in their eyes to serve the Lord is inspiring. But it does not take long for many of them to become deflated when their ministry efforts fail to yield the results they were hoping for or as soon as they would prefer.
It’s a condition that is not limited to new Christians. It also happens with long-time Christians. Even pastors get discouraged when their ministry efforts seem slow to grow. We often look for rapid positive results that many would be coming to Jesus, but doubt and disappointment wedge their way into our thoughts and weigh us down when that fails to happen.
In the synoptic gospels, Jesus told a parable about how the kingdom of heaven compares to a mustard seed. One man took and sowed a seed in his garden, and even though it was the smallest of seeds, it became more prominent than all the other garden plants when it took root and began growing.
In the first century, Jesus planted the seed of the gospel in the hearts of His disciples. They, in turn, did the same for others, but church growth must have seemed slow going to them at first, especially in the shadow of the more prominent religions of that time. The apostle Paul can undoubtedly relate to the uphill battle it took to get the church’s ministry up and running.
The disciples and Paul probably had no idea that people would be studying their travels, learning from their failures, and rejoicing in their achievements throughout time. Perhaps they could not comprehend that there would one day be some two billion Christians worldwide as we see today, all because of their ministry efforts and faith in Jesus.
Like the mustard seed that began small only to grow more prominent than the plants that once overshadowed it, so did the early church, thanks to the faithful perseverance of the apostles and follow-on disciples. When it came to their ministry efforts, they did not see the big picture. They could not foresee what their actions would bring in the future, but God did.
Therefore, when disappointment tries to overtake us because our ministry efforts seem to be fruitless, let us remain persistent in our faith, faith that Jesus said need only be the size of a mustard seed. Even though we may not see the results of our actions, God does, now and in the future. Our focus should be on what God calls us to do and leave the results in His hands.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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