Fruitfulness Is Largely The Result of Faithfulness
Why is it that some ministries seem to thrive, while others seem to wilt on the vine? Why do we have churches that are classified as mega-churches while thousands of churches experience something more akin to mega-death?
Some would argue that the reason is some churches have masterful music, plentiful programs, or fancier facilities than other churches. But I believe there is something much more important that determines a church’s ability to thrive.
I am convinced that fruitfulness follows faithfulness. As I look at the seven letters to the churches in Revelation, though, I believe we have to alter our definition of fruitfulness.
But appearances were deeply deceiving. Sardis was a wandering soul of Hollywood movies that did not know that it was really dead. Faith had long since flat-lined. Decisions didn’t equate with disciples. Busyness didn’t equate with blessing.
You see, Sardis had a serious blemish that all of their “ministry success” could not cover. While they had all of the adornment of a vibrant church, their members wallowed in the spiritual decadence of a morally corrupt society. Instead of giving their community a model of the soul cleansing power of the gospel, they got down and dirty.
In contrast, Jesus expresses the following truths to those who seek fruitfulness in faithfulness:
Fruitfulness is faithfully not only loving God, but loving each other;
Fruitfulness is faithfully living what you believe before a watching world that would seduce you into a more socially malleable person of faith;
Fruitfulness is faithfully holding firmly to your Christian principles on the job even when there is greater financial promise in slightly modifying your vocational ethics;
Fruitfulness is faithfully sticking in there for the long-haul even when facing opposition from the faithless;
Fruitfulness is faithfully taking advantage of opportunities to advance God’s agenda, rather than glory in past accomplishments or get comfortable with current circumstances;
Fruitfulness is faithfully defending the truth of God’s Word.
The church of Sardis has long been written off of the pages of history. There is no trace of its existence, save the six-verse letter from Jesus in Revelation 3. Popularity, image and reputation could not pull it back from the brink of extinction. Jesus came like a thief in the night
While we may be quick to gauge ministry fruitfulness by all of the common measures of societal success, bodies, budgets, and buildings, it may be a disastrous if we are not also monitoring the faithfulness of the crowds that fill those buildings.