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I’ve had one question stuck in my mind since completing my reading of Jeremiah:
How do you determine a fruitful ministry?
What makes it successful? Is it the number of converts? The number of professions of faith?
At Compassion, one of the ways we measure our fruitfulness is the number of children we see sponsored. For our ministry, this is an incredibly important metric, because if we don’t see children sponsored, we’re failing in our jobs.
But are these kinds of metrics—the number of professions of faith, the number of people attending a church, the number of people serving in a particular ministry—the thing we should measure?
If you look at converts, Jeremiah’s ministry was a spectacular failure. He had two people listen to his calls of repentance: Baruch, his scribe (see Jer. 32:12) and Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served King Zedekiah (see Jer. 38:7-13).
Years of ministry. Countless sermons. Powerful & provocative words.
Everyone else tried to kill him.
Jeremiah’s ministry has taught me something incredibly important:
Fruitfulness is not determined by metrics—It is determined by obedience to God’s Word.
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In his book Love or Die, Alexander Strauch provides a list of fifty key texts on love. I’ve greatly appreciated the reminder of the importance of the theme of God’s love, and thought I would share a few from Strauch’s survey:
The Lord…proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you…but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers…
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
1 Cor. 13:2
If I…understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing.
Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
1 John 4:10
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
But, what is perhaps my favorite passage on God’s love (aside from 1 John 4:10) is Ephesians 2:4-10:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Whenever and wherever you’re reading this, it’s my great hope that you would find as much joy in reading and meditating on these passages as I have.