This is a pretty crucial question in life. We all want to know how we are doing at certain things. Am I a good parent? Am I being a good spouse? How good of an employee am I?
These questions run through our head all the time. We tell ourselves that we are doing good. We look to our friends and family, seeking an honest and positive answer.
Yet a bigger question is often left unasked and unanswered in the back of our minds: Am I doing ok? And whether we believe in God or not, it’s usually directed to Him, a question that requires something or someone above and outside ourselves to answer.
How Do We Measure This?
This question (Am I Doing OK?) is usually so hard to answer that we simply leave it unasked. We leave it, unaware of how to answer it and not even noticing the pull toward the divine that we are longing for. This, of course, is eventually so unsatisfying that we have to face it at some point.
Then we hear ourselves asking it: God, am I doing ok?
And, when it’s time to finally face the question, I think we can answer this in one of three ways: Success, Faithful, or Fruitful.
Success is commonly defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. That’s pretty straightforward. You have an aim or purpose and success or failure depends on you accomplishing that goal.
So, some people ask themselves the question and start defining “doing ok” in human terms: I’m successful, my bank account is ok, my pantry is loaded, my marriage is better than most I see, etc. “Doing ok” becomes an issue of cultural status, based on our current geographic and temporal location.
But, is this truly answering the question? Deep down, I think we know that this isn’t the real answer, though we may feel good for at least having tried to answer.
Faithful means having or showing true and constant support or loyalty. This obviously has a more religious meaning to it, more or less so depending on your culture. If answering with success is unsatisfying because of it’s human centeredness, then answering with faithfulness is unsatisfying because of it’s religiousness.
“Doing ok” becomes a religious duty, even if you’re not religious. I’m doing ok if: I prayed today, read my Bible, opened my Bible, was nice to someone, showed up to work on time, etc. We happily check our list, hoping that this answers the internal question. At this point we may even praise ourselves for not using success as a measurement.
Success and Faithful answer the question (Am I doing ok?) superficially. They rely on outward indicators to convince us that we are good. Fruitful, however, looks to answer the question more thoroughly.
Fruitful means producing good or helpful results; productive. Answering the question now becomes a matter of what kind of person I am and what my character is producing.
My bank account being full is no longer a measure of doing ok. What I do with my bank account is the measurement. This turns into a dialogue with God.
Me: “Am I doing ok?”
God: “Are you being fruitful?”
Me: “I have a decent amount of money. Am I doing ok?”
God: “What are you doing with it?”
Me: “Spending it on myself. Am I doing ok?”
God: “Is that really being fruitful?”
The Call to Be Fruitful (not the multiply part!)
In John 15:8, Jesus tells the disciples to bear much fruit.
In Romans 1:13, part of Paul’s fruit was to bring people to Christ.
In Galatians 5:22, Paul identifies the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of godly character.
In Romans 15:28, good deeds are fruit.
In 1 Corinthians 3:9, we find the water, sow, and reap analogy. God gives us the increase, but it’s our part to plant/sow and water.
What we find in these verses and many others is the call to be fruitful. It’s not the call to be busy, rich, successful, philanthropic, world-renowned, poor, hated, etc. It’s the call to stop putting my flesh first and to live by the spirit and produce fruit in accordance with God’s way of living. We then find that we are doing ok when we are fruitful for God’s Kingdom.
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Also published on Medium.