The most important thing – overview

by Jim on 29 July 2007

Today we’re going to take the bird’s eye view of the question we started asking 10 months ago.  When it comes to serving the Lord, what is the most important thing?

Let’s take a look at how it all fits together.  Our original introduction to the most important thing is here.  We looked at four different aspects of ministry to see which was the most important – results, doing, being, and finally God.  Though each one was important, we discovered that God was really the most important of all.

We’re going to use this chart to sum up the whole idea:

The most important thing

You see here all four things in order of importance.  Remember that one flows into the other – God is the one that transforms us into the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-30).  As we’re transformed, that changes how we spend the minutes and hours of our lives – we do different things.  As we live a live of obedience, there are results (by God’s grace), both in our lives and the lives of others.  Sometimes we can see those results, sometimes we can’t.

You can also think of the chart in reverse.  If, for example, we’re not seeing any results in our ministry, that may be a red flag that we should check our strategy.  Are we struggling to know what to do?  Or do we find ourselves constantly doing what we know is wrong?  Maybe it’s time to check and see if we’re allowing God to truly transform our hearts.  Sometimes we get into the trap of only following the motions.

If we even lack the power to change (as we always do), we need to drop to our knees before the Source.  He is our only hope – we can’t do it on our own!

Of course, it’s not always as clear-cut as that.  For example, we may be doing everything right, and still not see results.  In the end, we need to leave even that up to God.  And remember, God really isn’t just at the top – we need to bathe our being, doing, and desire for results all in prayer.

As God works through His grace, our lives are changed.  That change results in a wonderful overflow of good works, in which our lives continue to change.  As the world sees our love, people see the Source more clearly.  The lives of those around us begin to change.  To what end?  Those people glorify God (Luk 18:43)!  And so it always comes back to the top of the chart – full, rich worship of the Almighty Giver of Grace.

Finally, on the right of the chart you can see the dangers of over or under emphasizing each thing (to the exclusion of the others).  We talked about this in the articles dedicated to each thing.  Successful?  You may be tempted just to "leave it to God".  You may feel that your "holy" life is enough, and you have no need to "do" anything else.

Or, you may become convinced it’s all about doing – if you just do a little more, you’ll have a better life/be accepted by God/see more results.  If you have good results, you may assume God is blessing you, and ignore the sin in your life.  Or you may be seeing results that look alive, but are really dead to the core.  You didn’t recognize it because you didn’t bring everything before God.

Failing?  You may become angry at God, or figure that nothing you do is good enough for Him.  Why bother?  You may be terrified that you’ll never be good enough to be accepted by God (as if it’s all about your works!).  When you just can’t do enough you may despair.  If all your hard work isn’t yielding results, you may feel helpless.  You’ve done it all – and still can’t see any fruit.

No, I believe these things must be kept in balance – all important, but not all equally important.

It’s fun to pull passages out of the Bible and see which of the above 4 points in represented.  Can you see any of the four points above in these verses?

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.

Mat 5:16

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me…
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You
.
Psa 51:10,13

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower,
and bread for food,
supply and multiply the seed you have sown
and increase the fruits of your righteousness,
while you are enriched in everything for all liberality,
which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

2Cor 9:10-11


What do you think?  Do you have something to add?  Have you heard confusion over these things?  Anything you disagree with, or disagree with?  Please, leave a comment!  Let’s talk.

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