We Are Called to Be Faithful, But Only God Can Make our Efforts Fruitful
Here’s one thing I know about women in the church: we tend to wear many hats. Each and every day we have a variety of roles and responsibilities and places we need to be. We have passions and giftings and callings from the Lord that we are committed to day in and day out. We’re devoted to our families and churches and the various ministries to which God has called us.
I see around me sisters pouring themselves out on behalf of orphans, foster children, widows, refugees, trafficking victims, unreached people, the poor, and more. I see strong women running hard after Christ, living out lifestyles that require sacrifice.
As strong, capable, goal-driven women are wont to do, I also see my sisters and myself constantly reevaluating our calendars and our efforts. We routinely ask: am I spending myself in the way God would have me? Are my activities useful and effective? Am I actually getting anything accomplished with this task/ministry/activity/habit? Is it working?
These reflections and questions are indeed good. It’s wise for us to examine our calendars and hearts and purposes each season. Adjustments are often necessary for various reasons. But here’s the rub: we cannot guarantee that our efforts will be effective and efficient. What’s more—that’s not our job. God has called us to be faithful. Only he can bring about the fruit.
We cannot guarantee that our foster children will heal, that the refugees we counsel will thrive, that the women we disciple will grow, that our neighbors will receive and not scoff at the gospel, that the pregnant teen we met with will choose life, that the trafficking survivor we counseled will flee her abuser, that our own children will choose Christ. We cannot control the fruit of our labors. Only God can. It’s his business—and his alone—to bring about his fruit from our faithfulness.
Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 4:6-7). Paul went on to say that we who work on behalf of Christ will “receive [our] wages according to [our] labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8). God will reward us for our faithfulness. But only he can grow the fruit.
Here’s something I often rehearse to myself and to the driven, competent, gospel-centered women I know: we are called and commanded to be faithful. But only God can make our efforts fruitful.
Rest in that, my friends. Jesus asks that you and I abide in him (John 15:4). He says we cannot bear fruit apart from him (John 15:5). Only God gives the growth. Let’s be faithful all day, every day, but let’s lean on the Lord to produce the fruit of our labor. As we spend ourselves in the roles to which God has called us, let us not wring our hands over our effectiveness. May we not fret about results.
Rather, let’s abide and walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). The fruit belongs to the Lord.