The Heart of the Matter


What’s in your heart? What drives you to work every day?

My goal in ministry was formed early on by Jesus’ words to His followers: “‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’” (John 4:34). His life purpose was NOT doing His “own thing”! I have not always been successful in fulfilling that part. I can easily be sidetracked into “my own thing.” More than once I have found myself off the path, in the deep weeds.

However, Jesus knew that His mission was to be a steward of the work of the Kingdom. He did whatever pleased the Father, from struggling with strange questions from bystanders to performing miracles and meeting needs, training His followers how to follow or being a friend to the friendless. They were not extraneous tasks on a “to do” list. It all had to do with one thing—finishing what the Father started!

So then, what had the Father started? His Kingdom! Eternal in its ultimate reality; earthly in its current venture. Jesus knew His work was to build the Kingdom. He lived for the Father’s pleasure!

As Jesus neared the end of His earthly ministry and spoke of the events of the last days, He declared: “‘The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’” (Matt. 24:14). Preaching the good news was Jesus’ approach to building His Father’s Kingdom. It occupied every neuron of His being. It commanded every ounce of energy. To carry it beyond His own lifetime, He gathered a core group of followers—His disciples. He challenged them to the task and equipped them for ministry. They then became the next stewards of this commission!

To each succeeding generation in the Church, this same commission is passed. The task is not finished. A century ago, the passion of this commission emblazoned the heart of a New York preacher and became the genesis of a movement. He wrote:

The extraordinary change in the attitude of the heathen mind toward Christianity creates a new opportunity and emergency. . . . The millions of China have turned their back upon their idols and are welcoming everything connected with Western civilization and even Christianity. . . What an opportunity! What an emergency!

But it is a crisis as well as a call. The open doors may suddenly close. . . .

The signs of the soon coming of the Lord Jesus intensify the crisis and the emergency. If the preaching of the Gospel unto all nations as a witness be the one urgent condition whose realization will bring the end, surely no more powerful incentive to worldwide evangelization can appeal to our hearts. At best our work is only apprentice work preliminary and preparatory to His great finishing touch. (_Missionary Messages,_ p. 14–15).

That preacher was A. B. Simpson—and that movement became The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

The end has not yet come. The task is still at hand. The baton has been passed to us to complete the Father’s work. The heart of stewardship is that we are here to finish Someone else’s job. That should drive us every day to fulfill His interests—not our own. My work: to build His Kingdom—not my own!

At its core, our role as stewards goes even deeper. Not only have we received a commission to fulfill Someone else’s task, but also we have been given every gift, every ounce of energy and every financial resource to aid us in completing His work. Our challenge is to manage well all that has been placed in our hands.

One contemporary writer declared: “The object of life, according to Jesus, is breathtakingly simple: BE RICH TOWARD GOD.” (John Ortberg, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, p. 27).

Ultimately, each disciple of Christ is a steward of the commission left by Jesus and of the gifts and resources entrusted to our care. The real questions are: What are we doing with them? How are we managing His work . . . and His gifts? The two are inseparable!

Jesus said, “‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matt. 6:21).

For Jesus, His GREAT commission came at the start of His earthly ministry as His ultimate life purpose. At the end of His ministry, He passed it on to all who follow Him. It captured His heart and governed His activity.

What’s in your heart?

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