It’s what Jesus said to his Twelve Apostles – at the Last Supper, in the Upper Room – but his charge to them became his charge to us, through the centuries: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
Billy Graham lived as if he had been at that table; from his conversion as a teenager to the moment last Wednesday when his life transitioned from Earth to Glory, he followed those instructions.
If you’re looking for a mission statement for your life – a “Kingdom Calling” – there it is, in one verse (John 15:16). It’s the Great Commission, made personal.
Bear fruit. That’s not cryptic or conceptual: his followers – themselves, disciples, headed for Heaven – were to make more followers who would populate Heaven: that’s life’s “bottom line.”
Early in Jesus’ teaching ministry, he made the same point in his “Parable of the Sower.” He was clear: when God’s truth is communicated to people, their reactions vary greatly. He cautioned that the response to his message would fall into four categories.
Some people are exposed to God’s truth, but it’s as if they never heard it. They don’t even ponder his proposals; they move on without personal consideration of divine revelation. The 1st Soil.
Others hear the same truth, and – for awhile – they’re amenable, but, then, easily distracted. They move on to alternatives without allowing God’s truth to bring them to life. The 2nd Soil.
The Third Soil is troublesome: it’s the person for whom the good news – the Gospel – brings eternal life, but distractions disable their eternal productivity. His specific caution is clear: “…the worries of this life and deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Survival – a focus on great lacking – or success – a focus on great lifestyle – are both capable of compromising one’s Significance – which, ultimately, focuses on great legacy. The 3rd Soil.
The ultimate outcome – the clear emphasis of Jesus’ parable – is found in the exception to the first three: “…the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:23). The measure of one’s life and legacy is found in multiplying God’s provisions – time, talent, influence and resources, entrusted to each of us – toward God’s intended outcome. That’s 4th Soil.
How does that timeless framework become a life plan? Is Jesus’ tale simply an interesting curiosity, or was it intended to inform our stewardship of all we have? What is “The 100x Life?”
Survival is no longer a compelling issue: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33). Anxiety is wasted effort; put first-things first, and God promises to take care of the rest: just enough, just in time.
Success ceases to be the ultimate pursuit; rather, it’s the means to greater achievement: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). The accouterments of accomplishment enable an eternal outcome.
Significance is found through multiplying the impact of one’s life into the eternal horizon; it is – ultimately – measured only in people whose lives have been influenced for Heaven. Yield – fruit – is the mandate; increased yield – 100x – is the challenge, issued by Jesus Himself. 4th Soil; 100x.
A life of Significance, with eternal productivity approaching 100x: those are choices made by the savvy, and – someday – rewarded by the Savior.
Billy Graham lived a life of Significance; he knew he was “appointed to bear fruit – fruit that will last…” That was his calling… but, it’s also my calling – and, yours. Bear fruit; populate Heaven.
Four soils; three levels of productivity. Where are you on that scale? Where do you want to be?
I’ve made my aspiration clear: it’s 4th Soil; 100x.