I don’t mind pouring my life out for God as long as I know he is truly pleased. But how tragic it would be to spend my whole life, working hard for God, and find out I somehow missed the entire target!
Some people evaluate their ministry by results. If lots of people get saved and the church chairs are full, God must be pleased. If hardly anyone gets saved and numbers are down, God must not be pleased. But a careful study of Jonah, Noah, Jeremiah, and Isaiah will show that results are not always indicative of God’s approval. So how do you know if your work is good enough for God? How do you know if you are basically pleasing Him?
Warren Wiersbe says, “There is a difference between fruit and results. You can get results by following formulas, etc, but fruit comes from life. Results are counted and soon become silent statistics, but living fruit remains and continues to multiply to the glory of God.”
My husband and I have worked on two different fields for over forty years. We have been through years in which we have seen little visible fruit. At a time like that, this question, “Am I pleasing God?” is crucial. If I’m not, I might as well go back to America and life a more comfortable life. If I am pleasing God, however, I will continue to serve in this place as long as He keeps me here. But how do I know?
Steve Saint must have had similar questions when he took his entire family to live, for one year, with a primitive tribe. His teenage daughter died shortly after leaving the tribe. As he reflected on her life he said, “Whenever I got terribly discouraged, she was the one who reminded me that we had not come for results. We had come for love and to be obedient to what we were convinced God wanted us to do.”
At one point, when our work seemed to be failing, I was desperate to know if God was smiling. We felt God had called us to our work there in Taiwan. We had worked hard, doing what we felt he wanted us to do. Our hearts are deceitful by nature and we can never completely know them, but we felt we were doing our best out of love for the Lord. God wasn’t showing us any major thing we were doing wrong, but, as far as we could see, the work was not moving forward.
I asked God to speak to me and show me if he was happy with my ministry. I searched Scripture for answers. This is what I came up with:
- God understands. He knows what we’re like.
- He’s not impossible to please.
- If we are searching for what He wants us to do, He will let us know.
- If we ask Him to show us ways that aren’t pleasing to Him, He will. (Hebrews 4:14-16, Isaiah 40:27-31, Psalm 103:11-14, Psalm 139)
- Therefore, if I am serving Him the best I know how, depending on Him, following His guidance, and He doesn’t show me otherwise, He must be pleased!
In time God called us away from Taiwan to a ministry in New Zealand. We’ve now worked here for more than twenty years. We’ve had some good years of fruitful ministry, as well as difficult years with little visible fruit. We’ve learned that every ministry has ups and downs. We can’t let the down times shake us. We need to be faithful in every season of ministry.
God sees and rewards.
Our labor is not in vain.
God won’t forget our work when we serve Him out of sincere love. (1 Corinthians 15:58, Hebrews 6:10)
In my imperfect efforts, God sees my heart. As an earthly father is pleased with his child’s best effort in drawing him a picture, however imperfect it may be, so our Heavenly Father is pleased by our best efforts to show our love for Him.
Have you been through times in your ministry when you struggled to see God’s smile? What verses helped you?