We have a thing in the church for getting results. I think we get it from the business world. Everyone wants a ROI – Return On Investment. Why wouldn’t they? You put a lot of resources, finances, and hard work into something, you want it to pay off.
There’s a bamboo species that takes 100-120 years to actually bloom. Still others can take years upon years just to sprout. The bamboo gets watered and watered, but nothing happens. But when the time comes for it to sprout, it grows really quick. It sprouts up several feet in just a matter of weeks. For some things, that’s a great illustration, but for someone who is looking for a ROI, that’s terrible. If you’re focused on patience, maybe that’s a good thing.
In the church, we like to see results…and we don’t want to wait 120 years to see them. We want to see church growth, increase in giving, spiritual growth in people – something. We want to see something positive happening.
And so we choose to put together programs, outreaches or do things a specific way to see those results. But there can be problems with that. Because we decide what we’re going to do and if we don’t do the right things, we won’t see the results we’re after. But it’s really in the finer details where the problems lie for many of us.
Here’s a secret that on the surface, doesn’t seem like a secret:
The right thing done the wrong way will produce the wrong results.
Doesn’t seem so secret, does it? But like I said, when you look at the details of this, it must be a secret, because so many people fall into this…trap. Trap might be the word. You could use another word, because it may not be a trap. But people are definitely ensnared with what happens when this is applied to their situation.
If we were to do the right thing, but do it the wrong way, we’re not gonna get the results we should. But here’s the issue. When we do this, and do it over and over, then we will start to think that we’re doing the wrong thing. We’ll have the devil giving us so much free advice, we won’t know what to believe. The only thing that will be constant is that we’ve been doing the wrong thing. So we think, “what we’re doing has to change,” even when it doesn’t need to. We just need to change the way we’re doing it.
If Noah would have built the ark according to the plans that he thought up, or based on designs that some other man came up with, it would have produced the wrong results. God couldn’t have brought all the animals to him. God couldn’t have saved him and his family. It just wouldn’t have worked out. And then he would have thought that he missed God when He told him to build an ark.
If Solomon would have built the temple using people that had not been anointed by God, who liked to take three hour lunch breaks, and used materials that he thought were great and wonderful, based on plans that he got from the greatest architect in Israel – when he finally got the temple built, God wouldn’t have shown up like He did. The Glory of God would not have filled the temple like it did when He followed the Lord’s instructions. And he would’ve thought that his father and himself missed God. He would’ve thought that God was not who He said He was. But the problem wasn’t with God or His instructions, but how Solomon would have carried out the instructions.
But Solomon didn’t do that. He carried out the command from God to build the temple (the right thing) according to the instructions God gave for the materials and laborers (the right way) and the Glory of God showed up and filled the temple (the right results).
God wanted the ark built, the ark of the covenant built, and the temple built, but He had specific people that He called to build it. And He had a specific way He wanted it built. If there were other people that would have tried to build it, or tried according to their own plans, and failed, we could think that building an ark or a temple was the wrong thing.
There are many Christians today that pray prayers and always end them with “if it be thy will” or some variation of that phrase. And they think they are praying scriptural. Well, they are praying scripture, but not scriptural. The idea of this “if it be thy will” comes from a misunderstanding of Luke 22:42: “saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. (NKJV)” It’s here that Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, telling the Lord that He is willing to do His will, but if there was another way besides the cross, that would be preferred. Of course, not my will, but thy will be done. He knew the will of God, but would like it if there was another way to accomplish it.
The issue with praying this way is that we are supposed to be praying in faith. It’s only the prayer prayed in faith that gets an answer. We’re told that it’s impossible to please God without faith (Her. 11:6). We’re told that when we pray, we are to believe that we receive (Mar. 11:23-24). We’re told that all things are possible to him who believes (Mar. 9:23). Faith is the key ingredient to answered prayer.
So you have to have faith to get your prayers answered and to please God. But faith begins where the will of God is known. That is essentially what Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So the prayer that is prayed with “if it be thy will” tagged on at the end shows that the person praying it does not know the will of God, does not have faith, and will not get their prayers answered.
For those who pray with this tagged on at the end of their prayers, they are doing the right thing, the wrong way, and producing the wrong results. We’re told to pray, but pray a certain way – in faith. When we don’t do that, we get the wrong results because we’re doing it wrong. After some time, any person who isn’t blindly following after something would realize that something is wrong. And many would assume that it’s on God’s side, not their side. After all, they’re doing everything right, as far as they know. So it must be God. He’s all powerful, all knowing, etc, etc. It must not be His will. He must not love me. I’m not worthy. I’m trash. That’s the kind of thing that the devil comes with during these times.
But no. God has set things up to be done a certain way and when we don’t do it that way, even though we’re doing the right thing, we’ll get the wrong results.
Now there is another side to this. And this is the side that many of us fall in to.
The wrong thing done with the right motive can produce enough results for us to think that it’s the right thing.
Many times we like to start programs or have ministries that have nothing to do with what God called us to do. In fact, God didn’t tell us to do them at all. We did them ourselves and ask God to bless them. It was our ideas and our plans.
The Lord spoke to Dr. Kenneth E. Hagin and told him, “I bless all of My people as far as I can. But the reason there is not the move of God and the depth of the flow of the Spirit, and the fullness of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost today is because men do not take time to hear from Me. And they do not take time to follow My plan set forth in the scriptures. The more closely you follow My plan, the more My power will be in demonstration and in manifestation…When it comes to having church, when it comes to services, when it comes to meetings, men make their own plans and then ask Me to bless their plans. I bless them as far as I can, but I cannot put My full approval and blessing upon them because men are pursuing their own plans.”
Did you know that hospitals can pump enough drugs into the human body, hook machines up to it, that it makes a dead person appear that they are living. Their heart will beat, you’ll see signs of brain activity, but the truth is that person is already dead. As soon as those drugs stop flowing through the body and those machines are removed, all those signs of life disappear.
Just like the hospitals, we can put so much effort and money and resources into something that it appears to be a success. But time will show if it’s really the results that we’re after and that God has called us to. When we do the wrong thing with the right motive, God will bless us because He loves us. But that doesn’t mean it’s the wright thing. We can have so much “stuff” packed into what we are doing that it looks like a success. It’s creating some type of results that look like what we’re expecting.
Real success starts in the spirit – getting in the spirit, getting in prayer and figuring it all out. God never once in the Bible tells us to grow the church. Not once. And it may be a fair statement to say that many churches feel pressure to grow the church, the church attendance, the giving of the congregation. They may see bigger churches down the road, pastors drawing the crowds, and think to themselves, “how can we do that?”
But God has never called any of us to grow the church. When we start thinking that, we start off with the wrong thing. We are told however to preach the Gospel. We are told that if we lift Jesus up, He will draw all men unto Him. When we start off with the right thing, we’re starting off right. We just need to make sure we’re doing it the right way.
Another way we can fall into this trap is by thinking that our past determines our future. Now there is a balance here, because in some areas, our past most certainly determines our future. If we make the wrong choices, we will have to live with the consequences of those choices. God’s grace and mercy is sufficient. There’s also times when the things we’ve experienced will be the thing God uses to allow us to reach others with. But other times, our past won’t determine our future.
I know of a minister that was born again while on the run from the law. After he miraculously got out of prison, people started telling him that he should help ex-convicts because he knew what they were going through and could really be a help to them. After a period of time, he decided to start a program that would help ex-convicts transition out of prison and back into society. He had some people come out of the program and do well, but he more so had problems. Even though there was an overwhelming crowd of voices that said it must be from God, it was the wrong thing. The wrong thing can never be done the right way. But because his motives were pure, his heart was right, God blessed him and the program as much as He could. However, in the end, it all fell apart because it was not from God, it was from man.
The only way to really gauge if something is successful, is to look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. Does it agree with the Word of God? Does it agree with the Spirit of God? Can we compare it to something that we know is done the right way?
Our comparisons, for what is the right way and the wrong way, the right thing and the wrong thing, can be found in the Word of God. It can be found by seeking the Lord in prayer, getting His plans and doing them according to what He says. When we do that, we’re going to get 100% results. We won’t be wasting our time. We won’t be wasting our money and resources. The things we do won’t be in vain. People will be blessed. We will be blessed. It just makes sense. Yet, the devil would have us believe that this can’t be done. He’ll tell us we can’t spend hours and hours getting God’s plan because there are more important things to do. He’ll tell us that we can’t know the will of God because it’s unknowable. He’ll tell us that it doesn’t matter because anything we do for God is okay and will be blessed, so go ahead and spend all of your money, time and resources on your plans to get some results.
The Bible tells all Christians to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, right? Yes, it does (Mar. 16:15). Paul, Timothy, and Silas were Christians, right? They’re included in that commandment to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, right? Yet in Acts 16:6, we’re told that the Holy Spirit forbid them to go into Asia and preach. But isn’t Asia part of the world? If Paul, Silas, and Timothy would have gone into Asia, they would have been doing the right thing, the wrong way, and gotten the wrong results.
Sometimes people are so desperate to see results, to be a success, to see a return on their investment, that they will accept any small amount of success in exchange for true success that comes from doing things God’s way.
We must remember, if we have a price – the devil will pay it. If keeping you off course means letting you have a little success, the devil will be all for it. Remember, he was willing to offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and more, just to get Him off of God’s plan for His life. Don’t give in. Pay the price for true success.
One last thing I want to mention – we have to be studious to look at every aspect of what we are doing. Of course, if we turn to seeking God’s perfect plan, for what we are doing, this can become so much easier. But in the midst of us doing whatever we are doing, whether it’s wrong or right, we have to understand there are other forces at work.
If you are doing the right thing the wrong way, yet there are others involved doing it the right way and you have no clue about it, you may think that your way is producing the results. I have seen this work in business and in ministry. You have to, if you just stop and think about it.
If we want to be a blessing to God, which I think most Christians would say they do ( I hope); and if we want to reach as many people with the truth as we can, again I think most Christians would say yes to that – then we have to do the right thing, the right way, to get the right results.
Don’t fall into the trap the enemy sets for us, telling us that we can do what God says any which way we want. No! We are to follow the Word of God completely. We are to pray, get the plan of God and follow it to the letter. Then, we will get the right results and they will last.
Stay with the Word and the Spirit.