Recently I have had individuals ask me: “how can I know I am used by God?” That’s a great question! I want to spend some time in devos exploring the answer.
The simple answer is that you and others will see it. It’s like how do you know if your spouse is angry with you? It can be communicated in different ways…folded arms, squinty eyes, silence…my wife cleans when she is angry…especially where I am sitting! How do you know if a child is guilty? They tell you they didn’t do it even before you ask!
Some things are very obvious…some things are not. We have become lazy, too much emphasis on the package, ignoring the content.
Many buy cars based on how they look, not perform. I was a house painter and many times the person I worked for just wanted it to look good, even though the wood was rotton.
We have allowed the world to teach us to look from an external point of view. We judge far too much by what appears outward…but having said that…it is important that we learn to discern whether it is an external evidence of what’s happening inwardly, or is it surface only. We do need to understand we cannot tell from an external view alone.
Matthew 13:24–30 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
So what is the key? Fruit…the Fruit of the Spirit. What happens inside a person shows their connection to God. What appears on the outside is under God’s control alone. All the prophets had deep connections with the Lord and their character showed that, but not all experienced outward success. Isaiah and Jeremiah were both close to the Lord and experienced tremendous change within, but the people would not follow. Did God not use them?
Scriptures warn that even when the outward looks good, we need to be discerning.
Matthew 7:15-21 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "So then, you will know them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
Fruit is inward - Though it does have an outward expression. Those closest to you will see it, still, that does not define how God will use you. Some will become famous and well known, others will go home to glory basically unknown in this world except by a few.
Paul makes it clear that what is inside counts.
Romans 7:4-5 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Jesus makes it clear that the way we glorify God is to bear fruit.
John 15:1-10 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.
No harsher words were spoken by our Lord than to those that built a surface life and let the inside rot.
Matthew 23:23-28 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
When you evaluate how God is using you, do you start looking at the outside or the inside? How has meeting God changed you, not what you do, but how you think, react, or process? Does your heart desire to make a difference in this world for God? If you focus on the inside, God will take care of outside!