I take my job seriously. When enumerating the various gifts of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:28, Scripture says that “whoever speaks” (including online “speaking”) needs to do it “as one who speaks oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). That’s pressure. That’s also glorious.
Sometimes, when I have been living sloppily before God and trifling with His patience, I have taken comfort about myself, telling myself that on balance God must be pleased with me in spite of my sloppy living, and that the proof is that He uses me to write words that bless people now and then. (The mailbag is my barometer.) I found out in my private Bible reading today that I’ve been finding false comfort.
I noticed something in 1 Corinthians I never saw before: Being used by God and useful to God is no guarantee of blessing and reward (1 Corinthians 3:8). There is no such evaluation as “on balance.” It is not as if God takes my writing life and my home life and throws them together in a math formula and finds the average. The more correct way to look at it is that God can use even a disobedient person to achieve His ends, and that person’s acts can profit the church but not profit him! God is able to use a donkey to speak, after all (Numbers 22:21–39), but that is no profit to the donkey; he is merely a channel.
If a Christian has the gift of speaking heavenly, prophetic, or encouraging words but isn’t walking in love, that person is nothing and gains nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). On Judgment Day, he may protest all he likes: “What do you mean? Droves of people were built up in the faith through my ministry!” But the man was just a useful vessel that derived no personal benefit through being used. He was self-deceived in thinking that just because he packed out Christian conferences, he was “something.” God says, “Nothing.”
I share this only so that we will avoid this personal tragedy. The apostle Paul wrote:
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked …” (Galatians 6:7, ESV).
The choice of every Christian is to be something and to profit, or to be nothing and to gain no profit. Let us be sure that the two parts match up—ministry and life. There is a term for the matching of the two and it is called “integrity,” as in “the state of being whole and undivided.”