“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7: 21-23)
This is a very sobering passage! Jesus is saying that many will be expecting to go to heaven, when in reality they were unprepared and will not. Their apparent confidence was because they were involved in ministry and had seen God do marvelous things. Imagine their shock when they hear, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
How can that be? Could someone actually be used in ministry, public ministry at that, and still not have a saving faith? Of course! Doing the works of God doesn’t guarantee that God’s work has been done in you. Jesus makes that plain and clear. Why are such people able to be involved in works of God? Here is the answer: The name of Jesus! His name is above all names. When His name is mentioned, heaven, hell and earth are brought to attention. God not only cares about people in pain and will use anyone to help His children, but He honors the name of His one and only Son.
Over the years in ministry, I have witnessed individuals involved in ministry, some even seminary educated, come to an awareness of their lost condition and then come to Christ. You see, it is easy to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit by throwing in additional activity rather than humble repentance. God wants to make us right with Him first, before He begins to use us. That’s the plan. However, if we allow our “busyness,” even in ministry to suppress the voice of God, He will allow our busyness, but we will be in for the shock of our lives in the days to come. Our Father will not override our wills. He respects that personal boundary.
What does this mean for you today? Read the words of Jesus again, “I never knew you…” He wants to be in relationship with us more than He desires to use our talents. Do you get that? It’s all about relationship! He longs to know you, to walk with you, to hear from you, and to care for you. Lean back for a moment, take your running shoes off, and just talk to Him right now…and don’t forget to listen. Only then will you be ready to dive into ministry! Never put your doing before knowing!