The fruit that God produces in us is not for our own use. He is the vine and we are the branches used to produce fruit that others can use.
They will pick what they need. Sometimes sweet. Sometimes sour. Or maybe just kind of in between. Maybe even bitter fruit at times.
The point being, that people will find what they need from us. At different times, we may be useful to one type of person. At another time, someone else may find a thing from us they can use. We just don’t know.
This is why the hardships and trials we go through need to be kept in perspective. We will not always have the same things to share. Or at least we will not be useful to everyone at any given moment. This is due to the changing hungers and needs of those around us. Sometimes our pain and depression makes us more sensitive and accessible to a person that otherwise would not be able to approach us. When all is sweet and light with us, we may actually be unapproachable to someone in despair.
In other words, if we are a kind of “perfect Christian”, we may be of little use to anyone. But, given the right set of problems we are dealing with or being in a certain frame of mind, the Lord will be able to use us to give a few words or spend a few moments with someone unique. Someone who may have been brought to us only for that specific instant in time. Prepared by God to minister to someone whom we may never have an opportunity to help again.
This is not a “ministering” as we often think of it. We may say little or nothing. This is not about handing people Bible tracts or inviting them to church. This is about being real. About being ourselves around people. Shutting up and letting God do a work without our messing it up by our religious stupidity.
God Looks at the Heart
I am not putting down tracts, door-to-door ministry, street preaching or other things. These all have their place.
I say this, because I have wasted a lot of time over the years following a legalistic code that compelled me to constantly have to “witness” to people. It was a code coming from fear that I would be held accountable for that man’s soul if I did not give him the Gospel. So we develop clever ways to talk to people in elevators, on a plane, or in a restaurant.
And the Christian gets a notch on his belt for having “witnessed”. This is mostly a cold thing. There is no real love here. We are not doing this in the Spirit. It is out of fear of being disobedient to God. But it is not obedience out of love. It is out of fear.
This is about truth and reality in the Christian life. It is about going deeper into the spiritual realm of God’s working than we normally understand. It is about coming to a realization that the Spirit of God is active and powerful. He is able to use us without our necessarily saying a word. He is God. He is the One that is able to speak to the souls and hearts of men.
Sometimes this may occur through nothing more than our getting out among people. Going to the store, the park or the mall. To just walk and let the Lord do something. Let Him minister through us. Maybe we will see someone we know. Maybe there will be just a normal conversation. Maybe we will not have to “force” an evangelistic conversation. Maybe we won’t have to say something that is spiritual or say some cute phrase like, “Praise the Lord”. And we often do this so that God is somehow inserted into the conversation.
To Be or Not to Be
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) This is a statement with profound implications for how we live as Christians. We have to stop faking it. We have to live truthfully. Stop trying to insert the Lord artificially into our lives. Either we are truly dependent on Him or we are not.
The fruit that the world and our brothers and sisters in Christ need from us must be genuine. We do not have to be “worldly” or crude or rude or obnoxious. We don’t have to act tough. We just need to be honest with people around us. Care about them. To just shut up and listen to people.
This is why I cannot be a salesmen. I cannot do two things at once. Either I am trying to sell them and must get all my carefully planned points across. Or I am listening to them. It is impossible for me to do both.
There are good salesmen; so don’t write me to defend sales people.
Therefore, I am a very good Customer Service guy. Or a Project Manager. (A Troubleshooter, as Bond says.) I want to help people to solve their problems. Meet their needs. Not sell them something they don’t want. But that only happens through listening. Patient listening.
Sometimes that is the best point we can get across. That we are paying attention.