Thursday, January 19, 2017

Means and ends

The end we seek often determines the legitimacy of the means we use. e.g. Seeking great wealth (a means) so that we might have great impact on others for God (our end) is legitimate.

To not utilize the gifts resources and opportunities God grants us simply to avoid fame or glory is not the appropriate response regarding those gifts. Instead we should seek to use them for the glory of God. 

The fact that we often use the gifts and resources we are given, for the wrong ends does not negate the value of those gifts or the necessity of having and using them to advance good ends. The question isn't whether we can or can't, should or shouldn't use them but why do we wish to use them; to what end do we seek them?

If our desire and goal is to honor God we are to act with all the power and resources he gives us. The question is no longer should we exert ourselves but rather why are we exerting ourselves. Once we have the why question right, we are to work with everything we have (Col 1:29). The issue is not productivity but motive. Whenever we move forward on a project we must always ask why. 

Some would say we should not seek great things in life i.e. a great name, great fame or great wealth or success etc. Because we don't often know the true intend of our heart, this is usually true. However the more important question we should ask is why do we seek these things not if we should. Are they an end in themselves or a means to the greater end of God's glory. For example, if I am well know as a professional athlete (a gift granted by God through the exercise of the gifts and abilities he gave me) I have an opportunity and platform to give glory to God in a way someone else doesn't.

The movie "Chariots of Fire" is a great example where the main character Eric Liddell sought to honor God through his physical talent of running. So much so that he refused to run on Sunday in one of his main events out of honor to God. One of him most memorable lines in the move was "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." Seeking a platform to honor God is an honorable pursuit.

What is certain is we should never stop seeking to have a great impact i.e. seek for others (the more the better) to experience God in a powerful life transforming way (quality) OR seek this for as many people (quantity) as possible (and to diligently pray and work toward that end), while at the same time always recognizing the outcome is ultimately up to him, not us. We sow and water but he gives increase.

We don't control the results, only our faithfulness. We are simply to be faithful (and the greater our faithfulness, the more fruit we see). Again, not for our honor but his. 

Seeking great things to bring great honor to God is not only a good thing but in fact what we are called to do. This is bearing "much fruit" in contrast to bearing little fruit. This is being a faithful servant instead of an unfaithful one. But our objective is being faithful to God. The kind and amount of fruit is up to him. 

And if we are given great gifts/resources and the opportunity to be a faithful servant, than we should seek to accomplish great things for God i.e. to whom much is given much is required. 

Our challenge isn't if and when we can or can not seek great things, it is in so doing, are we seeking them for the right reason i.e. for the glory of God to the benefit of others. 

Our true challenge is not whether we should or should not seek to accomplish great things (bear much fruit) it is knowing the true intent of our heart.

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Grace to you
Jim Deal