My home was burglarized last year, and the thieves absconded with $7,000. We later found out it was our gardener. In criminal justice circles, this is called an "inside job." Similarly, twenty years ago, I had a bookkeeper embezzle money from my company – another example of an inside job.
Our true spiritual condition can be seen as an inside job. God warns us: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15 NIV). Strong words indeed. How much more so is this true if this scripture is applying to us! As ministry and marketplace leaders, we are adept at putting up a good exterior for those we lead. The people we shepherd see in us what we want them to see. What they don't see is our true spiritual condition. It can be said that our spiritual growth and maturity, or decline and degradation, is an inside job.
Many leaders can bear great-looking fruit, but in the end, it is bitter because the roots are sucking up contaminated water, causing the entire tree to produce fruit not fit to eat. I am thinking of preachers who baptize people on Sunday morning and watch pornography Sunday night or business leaders who serve as Elders in their church but treat their employees poorly. “By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17 NIV). Unfortunately, there are many ministry and marketplace leaders who look like they are good trees but are actually rotting from the inside out.
In my experience as a speaker and teacher, it is very easy for pride to slip in and poison our roots. If we are not clear that all of our sustenance comes from Christ, we can start believing our own press releases. Pride comes before every fall.
We can think, in our own foolishness, that we are the ones causing the ministry or marketplace fruit to appear. However, as we delve into God’s Word, it is clear that the living waters of Christ are essential for any fruit that we bear. Yet, it is easy to forget this truth when the world is giving us accolades.
As ministry and marketplace Christ-following leaders, we must walk in humility and deference to Christ and bear only good fruit. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:18-20 NIV).
Satan and his demons are the thieves that want to gain a foothold so they can cause our deformation, decline, and deterioration, from the inside out. Christ will protect us from this if we stay rooted in the living waters of the Holy Spirit, filled with Christ’s love and power. May we always be clear that the fruit of our ministry or marketplace success is firmly rooted in Christ. Let’s not take any credit for our righteousness.
It is only by the grace of God that we can function in our roles. Let us ensure that we are bearing good fruit at home, with our family, where it counts the most. And of course, let’s make sure we stay fully connected to the vine of Christ, rooted in Him, the Author of all Good Fruit. After all, being a true and faithful Christ-follower is also an inside job.
Your aspiring servant, Daniel M.
December 21, 2023
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ.