Impact is not a question of intention but of actual results.
Jesus did not say we would be known by our intentions but by our fruit (Matthew 7:20) and by our love (John 13:35). The impact that we have, the love we share and the fruit we produce for the kingdom of God is of eternal significance.
The Bible teaches us that God saved us by grace (a free gift given to us that we did not merit, earn, or deserve). This grace came through Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead. I want to be clear that this message is not a message of salvation by works but more directly a message of salvation by grace so that we may perform work on behalf of our Lord and Savior.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT)
As followers of Christ each of us have received the Holy Spirit to live on the inside of us. Romans 8:11 teaches us that it is the “same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.” We have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that anointed Jesus (Acts 10:38) has anointed each of us (Acts 1:8).
My goal with this message is to provoke you out of your padded church chair into the world. The scriptures listed in this message are predominantly quotes from the Lord Jesus. They are direct and they are for each of us as believers. Jesus is interested in what we do with the gift (grace, the Holy Spirit, salvation, etc.) He has given us. Jesus explicitly teaches us that He wants a return on His investment. He wants us to give Him back more than He has given us. He wants us to reproduce the kingdom.
“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:19-21 NLT)
This is a familiar parable. The Master gave 5 bags of silver to one servant, two bags of silver to another servant and 1 bag of silver to another servant. Each of the servants produced different results with what they had been given and were rewarded by the Master based on what they had done with what they had received. The servants who received the 5 bags and the 2 bags both doubled what they had received and were praised with the same words from the Master, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
The servant with the 1 bag of silver was expected to make an impact by the Master. The servant with the 1 bag of silver should have heard the praise of the Master, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” However, the servant with the 1 bag did not make an impact and as a result we read the following:
“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ (Matthew 25:24-27 NLT)
What if we stand before Christ and have nothing to show for our time on this earth except the original deposit of grace and the Holy Spirit that was given to us when Christ came into our hearts at salvation? What if we choose to hide our light under a bowl (Matthew 5:15)? What if we were afraid of losing our 1 bag of silver and because of it we hid what the Master gave us?
Most Christians I know live so that they may hear Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
I am not writing this to inject fear or worry into your faith. The love of God is absolute (He loved us when we were sinners). However, the call of God upon the lives of believers desires and demands impact. He has made us His house so that He can work in and through us in this world.
“And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)
We have been given much. We have been called and equipped by God Himself to live the life of Christ upon the earth. Jesus said it this way:
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:16-17 NLT)
You know Jesus Christ today because someone else shared with you the love and message of the gospel. You are the lasting fruit that God produced through someone else’s obedience to the scripture. You are the duplication of another believer’s “bag of silver”. You are the result of a Christian’s impact upon this world.
To be blunt: What are you doing with the deposit Christ has given to you?
The world is not interested in your intentions. In fact, they are completely oblivious to what lives in your heart and mind. The only way they will know what lives in your heart is for you to do something or say something.
The kingdom of God is not built by your study of the Word, by your church attendance, by your worship or even by your righteous living. (These are vitally important to your relationship with God.) The kingdom of God is built by your praying, by your living and by your giving. Impact can be measured by change. Change in the lives of the people of this world. Jesus wants to use you to bring His message, His power and His love to this world.
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (Isaiah 58:6-10 NLT)