As we consider these things, it is not just sufficient to have the character of Christ worked out in us. There is also a purpose for our lives to fulfill here on earth. Only if we accomplish our ministry will we gain all the eternal rewards that God has planned for us. We need to participate in God’s works, not just be a spectator. Those who watch a sporting event may shout and thoroughly enjoy watching the game, but they do not accomplish anything. They see others collect the prizes. As Christ said in Revelation 3:11, “Let no man take your crown.” So it is in the Christian life – just to be a church member and even develop good Christian character is not enough. We must also participate in God’s works and develop our own areas of service and ministry.
We should constantly pray, “Lord, what are the good works that you have ordained for me to fulfill?” Then as we walk in obedience day by day, the revelation of God’s purposes for our lives will unfold.
We should seek to take every opportunity to see that our ministry matures. This happens through prayer, study, and heeding the wise counsel of others who are in the process of achieving their own God-given goals. I recommend learning from the saints of old who finished their courses triumphantly, and also learning from the mistakes that others have made so that we may keep ourselves from those same errors.
In heaven, God is running a kingdom. Everyone has a function or ministry. To prepare for heaven, you have to begin entering into that function here on earth. Find the good works and ministries that God has appointed for you, for your position in heaven will depend upon what you do here on earth. Please do not come short. It is good to begin your race well, but it is all-important that you finish well! Finish the work that God has ordained for your life.
As we develop and then use our ministries, their purpose is to bring forth good fruit – fruit that will remain for eternity, Jn.15:16. The more we develop and use our abilities and talents, the greater will be our fruitfulness.
In John 15:8 our Lord said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you I bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” God is glorified when we bear much fruit. How does a tree glorify the orchard keeper? By bearing much fruit.
I once lived in an area with many fruit trees, and our friends would take us through their orchards. They were so proud of certain trees that bore much fruit. When we neared some of those trees, they would say, “Look at the fruit this one has produced!” This is the same joy that the Heavenly Father has when He looks at mankind. When He considers our lives may He say, “This son glorifies Me; look at all the fruit he is producing! This daughter glorifies Me; look at all the fruit she is bearing!”
The Lord is looking for the quantity of our fruitfulness. He spoke about this in the parable of the seed falling upon good ground. This seed brought forth thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and one hundred-fold fruitfulness. Thirty-fold is seventy-fold short of the mark. Likewise, sixty-fold is forty-fold short of the mark. We should seek, by His grace, to bring forth one hundred-fold fruit to perfection as Isaac did, Gen.26:12.
There is an all-important question which we will be asked in heaven: “What have you done with your life? What did we do with the opportunities that we were given on earth? We are all given 24 hours in a day; what do we do with those 24 hours? Some spend their time watching television. That is wasted time. Others play sports or video games. There will be tears in heaven when it is pointed out to us what we could have done in those hours that we wasted. What are we doing with the opportunities given to us? Are we becoming fully fruitful Christians?
Yet along with the quantity of our fruit, the Lord is also particular about the quality of our fruit, Mt.7:19-20. The Lord made a promise to our spiritual father Abraham in Genesis 22:17, where He said “…in multiplying I will multiply your seed like the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.” Our God is a God of multiplication. Towards the end of our lives, we should experience multiplication, not just addition. Yet the important question we should ask ourselves is, “What is the quality of that which God will multiply?” In Abraham’s life the Lord not only multiplied the descendants of the promised son, Isaac, into the 12 tribes of Israel. He also multiplied the 12 sons of Ishmael. Their descendants in the Middle East now number in the millions, and most of them are the determined enemies of Israel.
Let me give a modem example. When I was in a certain church many years ago, the Lord gave me a word that He was going to multiply this church. However, with this word came a warning. I saw two apples — one was a lovely Golden Delicious apple, and the other was a crab apple, which is sour and inedible. God was going to multiply this church but they needed to be careful about what kind of fruit would be multiplied. Would it be fruit that could be likened to desirable Golden Delicious apples or those that would be compared to crab apples? Years later this church has grown to have many thousands of members, but there has also been immorality among the leadership and many problems. Regretfully, when I recently visited this church the Lord spoke to me that it was, indeed, a crab apple church. Yet if we will seek to develop both quantity and the quality of our spiritual fruit, our efforts can be very productive. As we finish well in these areas of our lives, we can receive Christ’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord,” Mt.25:23.