“But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
That phrase jumped out at me the other day as I was reading through Matthew 11. It’s Jesus’ last remark as he addresses a question regarding himself and John the Baptist (cf. Matt 11:1-19). As Jesus is finishing up his response, he noted the accusations people made against him and John the Baptist. Jesus was allegedly a glutton and drunkard while John the Baptist was said to be a demon. It is to those accusations that Jesus says, “But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
…by her deeds.
Do we here what Jesus is saying? Jesus didn’t try to win an argument with them and he didn’t ask anyone to check his teaching and see if if was in accordance with sound doctrine. Instead, Jesus just gave a subtle, or perhaps a not so subtle, pointer to his ministry. . . to what he does. . . to his deeds. Think about it.
For Jesus, wisdom is proved right by deeds. In other words, Jesus will be proved right by the way he lives. But I was taught, as well as many others, that knowledge matters most to ministry. A good minister was the one who had the right answers, rightly divided the word, taught sound doctrine, etc… But maybe we need to rethink that a bit.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that correct biblical teaching and good theology don’t matter. They matter much! However, ministry is about leading people to Christ and in the way of Christ. Whether we’re a preaching minister, student minister, or else, it’s about others coming to know and follow Jesus Christ. Yet we can only lead when we are followers of Jesus because in the kingdom of God, spiritual leadership flows from discipleship.
Here’s three implications for ministry:
- Having all the correct knowledge is not a substitute for living as Jesus lives. A picture is worth a thousand words and living as Jesus lives says far more about what the gospel is than what words alone can do. This is not to say that preaching is unnecessary, but to say that the way we live must be coherent with our message.
- Jesus calls us to be a doer of God’s will before we become a teacher of God’s will. Having solid answers to different doctrinal issues is important but not as important as living in the way of Jesus Christ. Our spiritual authority as preachers, teachers, and ministers of the gospel is gained by living as a disciple. It is in the doing of discipleship that we gain the spiritual authority as preachers, teachers, and ministers of the gospel.
- Inviting others to come alongside of us and learn from us by following us as we follow Christ matters. People are not going to learn the way of Christ from just a sermon and Bible class. They need to see the way of Christ lived out in real time. So take someone along for that hospital visit, invite someone for some coffee and conversation, open our lives to others, and so on. Then wisdom will be proved by her deeds!