One of my prayers for my fellow church workers is that God might encourage us in our labor by occasionally allowing us to see the fruit of our, or better, HIS labor. Knowing that what we do matters helps us to keep working. Church work can be frustrating when you don’t see the fruit of your labor. God does not always allow us to see how our words, His actions through us, our work on His behalf and His work on our behalf, play out in the lives of those we serve. But when God does allow us to see a tiny glimpse of the fruit of our labor, that encouragement can help us to carry on, to persevere in our work.
“Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:17-20)
I remember the summer I worked at camp. Sometimes, I would feel like a day, or a Bible study, was a winner, either before I led, or after. I might never get any response from it. It may have been good; it may have fallen flat. One day, I led a Bible study and felt like I got no feedback or input from the campers–no engagement. I thought they weren’t listening; I was sure no one got anything out of it. I was sure it was the worst job I had done all summer at camp. Later that summer, I received a letter from a camper. She wanted to let me know what she learned at the Bible study I felt had fallen flat. I learned that sometimes when we work for God, He is doing things we don’t get to see. I rarely get letters telling me that a Bible study made a difference in a student’s life. I rarely get to see a glimpse of what God does through His Word in communal study when I get to lead or teach. But God is always at work. He does not let His Word return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit… Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (Jesus, John 15:1-8)
It is Jesus’ fruit, and Jesus’ work. We do not bear fruit. It is not truly the fruit of our labor that we need to see; it is the fruit of Jesus’ labor. We are honored that He works not only in but also through us. Even if you don’t see the fruit of your labor, if God is not calling you elsewhere, labor on, brother. God is still working even if you don’t see the fruit. It may be painful. God may be pruning you. But I pray that more disciples may come to know Jesus; that through you, Jesus will call men and women to Himself. What you are doing is important, even if you don’t get to see it. But I do pray that sometimes, God lets you see it!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, allow us to see the fruit of our labor today. Allow us a glimpse to help us carry on. Show us what You are doing. Amen.