Have you seen the Corn in the drought this year?
It looks awful doesn’t it?
Would you ever plant corn if you knew this would be the harvest? Is it worth it?
Of course not.
We see this corn and know that it is wrong. It is wrong for it to be unfruitful. It shouldn’t look like this. It represents loss, wasted seed, wasted time, wasted season.
Certain things have to go wrong for corn to turn out this way. The two primary are…
There’s not enough Rain or it’s not at the right times
Temperatures are too hot for too long
But under normal conditions, the harvest develops as a natural growth process. You plant and care for, but God makes it grow—He designed it that way.
This corn is designed to be fruitful and productive.
That’s the problem Jesus had with the Fig Tree—it had all the signs of life, all the indications that it should be fruitful and yet when Jesus approached it expecting to find some sign of the tree fulfilling it’s purpose—but he found none. And so He cursed the tree.
Fruitlessness—ineffectiveness and unproductivity are wrong.
It’s when the natural growth process does not have the right conditions, then fruitfulness is stunted.
Scripture teaches that believers can be just like this corn and so can churches. They can have no fruit—like they have been through a drought.
It is possible for us to be ineffective, unproductive and unfruitful.
—For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.—ESV
1:8--For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.—NIV
1:8--For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.--HCSB
ineffective and unproductive.
I sometiems find it helpful to teach Scripture using Opposites. Flipping the verse around to get a better understanding of what it actually says.
So look again at that verse in an opposite sense.
“If you DO NOT POSSESS these qualities in increasing measure
If you possess these qualities in DECREASING measure, they will CAUSE you to be ineffective and unproductive even in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ineffective - inactive, i.e. unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless :- barren, idle, slow
Unproductive - barren (literal or figurative) :- without fruit, unfruitful
What does it mean to be “ineffective for Jesus?
What does it mean to be unproductive for Jesus?
When you examine the fruit of your life, are you like this corn?
Is your life and walk with Christ ineffective and unproductive?
How about this church?
What did Jesus say to His servants who were unproductive and ineffective—the ones who took their talents and hid them in the ground and refused to do anything with them?
The idea of being Ineffective, the though of being unproductive, the chance of living a Christian life with Jesus walking by and seeing our fruitlessness should bother all of us.
So if not possessing certain qualities, not allowing them to grow in us can cause us to be ineffective, unproductive or unfruitful, then it’s important for us to find out what those qualities are.
Because on the flip side, under the right conditions, if it’s not too hot, if the rain comes at the right times, then the corn will germinate and you’ll be able to have a fruitful harvest.
To discover those qualities, we have to go back to --"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-contraol with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love."
The Scripture says that you must possess these qualities in increasing measure—these also must be growing. Not one at a time, one after another, they must all be cultivated simultaneously.
Make Every Effort – diligence, haste, speed—in other words this is something to be taken seriously, they are not to be neglected or forgotten. These are things that are important
ADD to your faith – Add also means: Nourish-Supplement your faith—fully supply. Like taking vitamins-- you need them to be healthy.
· Goodness - moral excellence, related to manliness or valor
o Being good requires courage. Courage to do the right thing even when it costs you. Courage to resist the participating in the wrong even when everyone else is telling you to.
o 1 Peter 4:4 NLT –“Of course, your former friends are very surprised when you no longer join them in the wicked things they do, and they say evil things about you.”
o If you’re not adding goodness, you are adding failure, not valor but betrayal
o God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, MIND and strength.
o He does not want us to be ignorant, uninformed our unaware. God wants to be known!
o Learning about God—His plan of redemption, His love, the Scriptures. We need to understand our faith.
o Retraining your brain on how you act, when, who is your neighbor, that you should serve rather than be served,
o Coming to a greater knowledge of the Gospel
o Be transformed by the renewing of your mind
o If you are not adding knowledge to your faith, you are adding or maintain ignorance—a chosen ignorance. “by now you should be teachers… solid food is for the mature,…. I gave you milk not solid food.”
· Self-Control – temperance,
o That sense of consistency and stability, that you’re not going to jump at every whim or desire that crosses your mind. That you will think before you act
o As opposed to shooting first and asking questions later
o If you are not adding self-control, your are really out of control - cultivating self-indulgence. You’re really looking for ways for you to make sure you get yours. You’re out of control of the Spirit of God and in control of the sin nature.
If you are not in control of yourself, you're waiting or depending on someone else to tell you what to do. You want someone watching over your shoulder, treating you like a child... "don't do that...".
Self Control requires maturity and strength.
· Perseverance – patience, endurance,
o Longsuffering, the ability to hold on and not quit even when it is tough. Even when you want to give up, you will keep fighting, keep doing what is right, keep to your convictions, even in the face of death—even
o When the going gets tough, the tough get going--not out the door.
o When you look at your life situation, when you look at the future of your church, do you have the valor, do you have the perseverance not to give up just because it looks hard? Has the dynamics and the population of your neighborhood changed—does that mean you should reach out to them? Do they not need the Gospel?
o If we do not have perseverance in our walk with Christ, we give up easily
o Opposite - impatient, quitting, giving up, despair, no hope for victory/rescue.
o When we quit in our mission, when we have no hope of victory in the mission, then it’s no wonder no one wants to join us in His cause?
· Godliness – pious, devout,
o This is referring to taking ones faith seriously. Allowing your faith to penetrate to the entirety of your life. You take the Name of Jesus with you out of this building and into your home. Into the restaurant you’re going to for lunch. Into your place of work. You take Jesus you’re your pocketbook, your checkbook, this neighborhood around the church.
o You cannot compartmentalize Jesus. Jesus never intended to be just part of your life. As Lord, He expects to be all of your life.
o This is talking about offering your life as a living sacrifice. When your faith sets your priorities and your schedules. You give up some things that are hurting your faith. You give up some places or events you would like to go to.
o You seek after those things that bring Glory to His Name. You may ask, what’s the difference between Goodness and Godliness?
o There are many people that are moral and have a claim of goodness. But we must understand that Morality or goodness without the foundation of godliness is worthless.
o That sense of right and wrong, though corrupted by the fall is still a part of our nature—but it needs the transformation and salvation of God to make any goodness have any eternal value.
o Godliness is about taking on His values, His purpose, His Heart and His Mission.
o But if you are not adding godliness to your life, you are losing your first love, walking away from His values, His Purpose, His Heart.
o Without God’s Heart beating within your heart, it is all the harder to Love as He Loves.
· Brotherly Kindness—philadelphia –
o For most of human history, the love and care of family was the most important part of life. Many of those who came to faith in Christ lost everything, including their family. They were exiled, kicked out and were frequently rejected by their family.
o Believers needed a new kind of family. A family that would care for each other, watch out for each other, and love them as if they were truly their brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers.
o They needed to love as family in a culture in which being an outcast or an exile was often a death sentence.
o They needed to know that they are united together in Christ with a greater bond than that of a family.
o In order to be fruitful, effective and productive we must not just talk about our church as a family, we must treat each other as family—with true love.
o I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
o And when we are the Family of God, an increasingly disconnected society like ours will be drawn to us because they are looking for something and someone to belong to.
o And if we are not adding love as brothers, love as family—then we are divided, we are bickering and arguing, we are saying some people are not welcome or wanted and we are not fulfilling our mission.
o It’s not easy to love family. Sometimes it requires us to sacrifice. Which is why we must continue to add Sacrificial Love.
· Love—agape – sacrificial love—not only are we to add sacrificial living, we are to add sacrificial loving to our faith.
o When we no longer see ourselves as the center of the universe, we can truly live as if we are not the most important person in the world
o We must begin to add to our faith the idea that someone else’s salvation is worth giving our lives for. Their salvation is worth giving up of our time, giving up of our money, giving up of our rights, our pleasures, and control over our lives.
o If we will add sacrificial love to our faith, we will begin to love as Jesus loved. “No greater love has any man than this, that He lay down his life for his friends.”
o God proved He was willing to sacrifice for us. We must be willing to sacrifice for Him.
o Until we are willing to commit to serve others even with our lives, we will not be as productive as we could be. We will not be as fruitful as we could be.
o If we are not living with Agape love, sacrificial love, we are living with a love of our selves. We value our own things, our own money, our own time more than we value someone’s eternity, someone’s maturity in the faith, someone’s
Can you imagine how Productive, Effective and Fruitful we could be if we had these qualities truly manifesting in each and every person’s life in the church?
And if we are unwilling to be adding these things to our faith, then we are truly nearsighted and blind. We are burying our heads in the sand, we are closing our eyes to the great and privileged calling to the Kingdom of God.
God desires us to be Fruitful, effective and productive for His Kingdom. That’s why He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. It’s why He has given us a faith just as precious as the Apostle Peter’s.
Are you fruitful? Is this church fruitful? Or has there been a drought going on? When Jesus walks among us and looks at our fruitfulness, what will He see?
Let’s pray for rain together, let’s pray for a fruitful harvest. Let’s ask God to add these things to our faith so that we will be effective and productive in our walk with Him.
Will you join me in that?