A conference speaker made a statement that has influenced my life and ministry beyond what he could have ever imagined. Maybe it touched me so deeply because I was new into marriage and new into ministry. His words were clear and true and have helped to guide my life. He said, “Anything that truly exists can be measured.” That may not sound like much to you but he went on to explain what he meant. I can talk about my Church and say it has a “heart” for evangelism and if that is true I will be able to measure it by the number of visitors my Church has, the amount of money spent on outreach, the number of personal invitations offered and several other pieces of information. Then he continued his line of thinking. I may say I am a good husband and if that is true I will be able to measure it by the number of times I tell my wife I love her, by the gifts I purchase her, by what I am willing to sacrifice for her and the way I respond to her love language. Then he took it one step further. I might say that I am a good Christian and if that is true I will be able to measure it by the fruit of my life, my obedience to God’s word, my commitment to Christ’s Church and a number of other metrics.
Edwin Louis Cole underlined this same truth to me a couple of years later in his statement, “We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.” I have also heard it asked another way, “If I was put on trial for being a Christian (or good husband or good parent or good anything) would there be enough evidence to convict me?” Unfortunately, I meet people who frequently view themselves as devoted followers of Jesus despite all evidence to the contrary. I meet men who claim to be a good husband or father whom I have never seen do anything to demonstrate that characteristic. Their ideas and intentions are always good but there is no action to validate them.
It is a slippery slope of the mind. We convince ourselves that we are something and then we ignore all evidence to the contrary. We base our ideas about people on our feelings rather than real action. So I must continually ask myself, “Is this real information based on facts of just a figment of my imagination?” Because anything that truly exists can be measured.