John 12:24-25 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
A pint of pure nard in an alabaster jar. A widow’s mite. Abandoned fishing nets. Offerings that appeared small by the world’s standards but ones which proved to be of inestimable worth to God. These simple acts of love-laced obedience have had lasting power…over 2,000 years of lasting power.
Most of us don’t realize the fruit of our sacrifices any more than Mary of Bethany did when she poured out the costly perfume on Jesus’ feet. The poor widow didn’t even know Jesus was watching when she dropped all she had into the offering plate. The disciples left their nets to follow without any assurance of what that following might entail. Neither they nor we experience the luxury of knowing our acts of devotion will pay off in the end.
I tend to think God, in his infallible wisdom, planned it that way. He doesn’t want us to get wrapped up in our “effectiveness.” He doesn’t want us to be caught in an endless cycle of self-assessment. He wants us to merely obey his nudging…and leave the results to him.
The disease of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day was that they did care about the results. They not only wanted to see the fruit of their work—they hoped that everyone else would too! Theirs were lives fueled by the praises of men. Their obedience was love-motivated all right, but love of self, not God. They tried to bypass the “anyone who loves his life will lose it” part. So whatever fruit in life they would have borne was buried with them in the grave.
How different for those who simply choose to give it all. Since my husband and I studied with Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri, I’ve often thought of how Schaeffer spoke of his call to the ministry: a “kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies.” Unbeknown to him, that one kernel would end up producing a truckload of seeds…just as Jesus said it would. And so for each of us….
Whether God is calling us to offer something seemingly small or reaching for a sacrifice deep within us…let’s not get stuck in looking at results. Let’s not catch the disease of the Pharisees and focus on short-lived gains. Be assured that our obedience to God will result in seeds that have lasting power.
Lasting power…as in eternity!