Summary: What kind of gauge do you use to measure your effectiveness? Often we use the world as our measure and it leads us to see failure, when God really sees success. Learn the keys to accurately measuring your life for God.
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Evaluating Your Effectiveness
Pastor Tom Fuller
How do you evaluate your success in life? At work we do performance evaluations. At school we get grades. In business we either have sales or don’t. When we exercise or diet we can see results and gauge the effectiveness of our diet or exercise program.
But when it comes to serving God – how do you know if you’re doing a good job? Many times we use the same sorts of gauges as the world – money, numbers, reactions – sort of spiritual performance evaluations.
Often times those kinds of gauges don’t give us an accurate picture of life serving God and can actually give us a false sense of doing well, and a false sense that we are failing. That’s what the Apostle Paul has been dealing with in Corinth. The Corinthians thought they were pretty special – that they knew so much that they could glom on to some “new” teachers that had come on the scene – teachers that preached a different gospel than Paul, and teachers that said Paul couldn’t be a “real” apostle – just look at the mess his life and ministry was in.
In chapter 5 Paul says essentially – “we want you to take pride in the changes going on in the heart, not on what you see outwardly.” He continues this thought in chapter 6:
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you."
This reference is from Isaiah 49:8. Paul is telling the Corinthians that by rejecting him, they are really rejecting the gospel of God’s grace. “Did receiving the gospel mean nothing to you?” might be another way to put it.
You see – you can believe anything you want. I can believe that men gain eternal life by standing on their heads while holding a can of Spam and singing “Spam Spam Spam Spam …” But it doesn’t mean it will actually do anything. I can turn the ignition of my car all I want, but if there is no gas in the tank I’m not going anywhere.
There is only one way that really works – that’s not vain or empty – that’s the way of Jesus Christ who became sin for us, died – then came back – proving that His sacrifice on our behalf took.
God directly told Paul the Apostle to bring that message – that God has heard and that the day of salvation is here now with the gospel he preached.
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
The people in Isaiah’s time looked forward to the day of salvation. Paul is saying “that day is here now so grab ahold of it and don’t let go just because someone is telling you otherwise.”
For us now is the time of God’s favor through Jesus. You can try all the systems of belief, all the legalistic righteousness you want – but God’s favor comes only through Jesus and its today and it’s the gospel that Paul preached.
So often we try to come up with something new, something for today. That’s a dangerous thing. That’s how so many cults get started. In reality, the gospel Paul preached 2,000 years ago is for today – it is just as relevant.
People were watching Paul’s life – and the character of his ministry and judging whether to receive that gospel based on what they saw so Paul next talks a lot about how he went about leading his life in a way that was honest and straightforward – and it becomes a lesson for us as well.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
Paul realized that if he was not sincere, it could effect whether people believed in Jesus. Notice I didn’t say that Paul worried about being perfect – that’s a mistake we often make. We think that if we represent Jesus it means we’ve got to be perfect and then people will see that perfection and be drawn to the Lord.
It doesn’t work that way. What people need to see is that we are sinners saved by grace, transformed as we relate to Jesus in the power of His Spirit, not our own abilities. No, it is sincerity, and dedication to the work, not perfection that Paul emphasizes.
Now look carefully at this list – it is really about one thing that Paul explains using three lists – the hardships of ministry, the character in ministry, and the reactions to ministry for the Lord.