Faithfulness not Success in Ministry

Faithfulness not Success in Ministry.

Ezekiel 2-3

“As for them, whether they listen or not—they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

 

            Ezekiel faced a daunting task.  The nation of Israel had rejected God and pursued their idols.  Rather than following God and obeying the commandment, they adopted idolatry and paganism around them.  However, even though God was pronouncing judgment upon Israel, God had not completely abandoned them.  He continued to send his prophets among them to proclaim his message.  After the appearance of the glory of God, The spirit of God empowers Ezekiel to be his prophetic voice among the nation.  However, the calling would not be easy for Ezekiel would face severe opposition.  His ministry would not be popular, his message would not be accepted, and he would be severely ridiculed for his preaching.  It was not an encouraging call.  Instead of assuring Ezekiel that the people would respond to his message, God warns him that he is sending him to “a rebellious people who are stubborn and obstinate.”  Hardly the type of encouragement one would like to receive as one starts a new ministry.           

            Even though the people will not respond, that does not change Ezekiel’s calling to be a spokesman for God. In his commission of Ezekiel, God makes clear that Ezekiel is not to be intimidated by those who reject his message.  In 3:9, God encourages Ezekiel not to “be afraid of the or be dismayed before them.”  The word “dismayed” refers to one who is demoralized.  In his ministry, it will be easy for Ezekiel to be discouraged.  Not only will his ministry seem fruitless and without effect, but he will also face increasing opposition from the people.

When Ezekiel hears this warning, he is ready to throw in the towel even before he begins.  In verse 14, he states that he was embittered in “the rage of my spirit.”  In other words, he was angry that he was called to preach to an unresponsive audience.  For seven days, Ezekiel struggled with this frustration.  At the end of seven days, God reminds him who is in charge of his life and message.  God is the one who determines success, not us.  Like any person, Ezekiel wants the people to respond to his message.  He wants positive results for his effort. However, God reminds Ezekiel that his responsibility is not to achieve great results but to remain faithful to the proclamation of God’s word.  Success is not determined by our definition of success but by our faithfulness to fulfill God’s purpose.  Whether the people respond and listen or reject Ezekiel’s message is unimportant.  It is essential that Ezekiel remains faithful in proclaiming the truth so that in the end, whether the people will repent or not, they will know “that a prophet has been among them” (2:5).  They will affirm that the prophetic voice was genuine.  

            As our culture continues to reject God and his word, it is easy to allow fear to silence our message. We can quickly become intimated by those who ridicule our message and pressure us to “keep silent about your faith.”  We can be hesitant because of ridicule.  When we do not see any positive results, we become discouraged.    However, God calls us to be a witness to people and share the message of Christ with others.  We do not control how people respond.  What god desires from us is faithfulness rather than success.  People may continue to reject our message, but when they stand before God, they must acknowledge that our statement is true.  As we get involved in the ministry of the church, in whatever capacity, do not focus on the result; focus on faithfulness in service, for that is what the Lord requires of us.  If our focus is on success it made lead us down a path where we are successful in the eyes of men but not in the eyes of God.

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