Why We Don’t Measure Success by Results

At Stand to Reason, we often say that our task is to speak the truth in love and then leave the results to God. Judas is a perfect example of why we ought to measure our success by obedience, not by results. As Colin Smith noted in a recent post:

Judas walked with Jesus for three years. He saw the greatest life ever lived up close and personal. You can’t have a better model of faith than Jesus or a better environment for forming faith than Judas had in walking with the Savior.

He directly witnessed the miracles. When Jesus fed the 5,000, Judas was there. He took the bread and distributed it along with the other disciples. When Jesus calmed the storm, Judas was there. And he was there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. You can’t have better evidence for faith than Judas had.

Judas heard all the teaching of Jesus, too. He heard the Sermon on the Mount, so he knew there is a narrow road that leads to life and a broad road that leads to destruction. He heard the warnings Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, so he knew there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain. He heard the parable of the prodigal son, so he knew God is ready to welcome and forgive those who have wasted themselves in many sins….

Judas teaches us that even the best example, the most compelling evidence, and the finest teaching—the ultimate environment for incubating faith—cannot, in and of themselves, change the human heart.

Jesus did and said everything perfectly, yet Judas walked away from Him. That means something else was necessary beyond perfect love and words: a work of God—a work God did not choose in this instance, for His own reasons. Does the fact that you can’t change a person’s heart tempt you to despair and hopelessness? It should do the opposite! It means that after we tell others about who Jesus is and what He’s done, we don’t have to carry the weight of responsibility for their salvation, but we can trust whatever happens to the wisdom and power of God; it leaves us to properly define apologetic success by our own obedience and faithfulness to what God has called us to do; and it directs all the glory to God, not our own competence, when we do see someone trust in Christ.

Make no mistake, God does use our words about the gospel as the means by which He saves people (see Romans 10:12–15), so this is not an excuse for us to stay silent. It’s merely a reminder that if we speak the truth in love and clarity, God may use our words to open another person’s eyes, or He may not. That is up to Him, and this should be a source of joy to us. As I said recently, His power to give spiritual life to the dead frees us from fear and gives us hope, for the salvation of even the most impossible person is possible with God.

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Amy K. Hall

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