Faithfulness & Fruitfulness

As we close our month’s focus on personal wholeness, we highlight the message Faithfulness & Fruitfulness given by Tom Nelson at the Karam Forum (watch the message here). In this message, Tom challenges the sufficiency of personal wholeness leading to faithfulness alone. In his words, a pietistic “just be faithful paradigm” views vocational productivity and economic flourishing as outside the scope of biblical discipleship. To be faithful, we must also be fruitful. When our fruitfulness is lacking, our faithfulness is at risk.

What does fruitfulness look like?

Relational Intimacy (John 15:5) – Our fruitfulness as disciples flows from our intimacy with Christ. It is out of the fruit of relational intimacy with Christ that other vital aspects of discipleship fruitfulness flows.

Vocational Productivity (Genesis 1:29) – In this verse, we find that the Hebrew word for “faithfulness” is para. While we often emphasize the reproductive pro-creativity of para and the family, we have often under-emphasized the vocational productivity of para and the economy. How are you growing in your vocational productivity? Are you bringing your A-game to work every day? Your A-game matters to your colleagues, to your boss, and to God. What kind of annual job review would Jesus give you?  Would Jesus say well done?

Neighborly Love (Luke 10) – The Good Samaritan’s fruitful work productivity in the context of economic exchange made possible his generosity. Jesus reminds us neighborly love requires both heartfelt compassion and economic capacity. Fruitfulness in vocational productivity is not necessarily evidenced in the cultural markers of success. Yet it is important to say the value we add to our neighbors both local and global is often monetized in our interdependent global economic order.  Each morning we wake up to an economic world and our fruitfulness in that economic order matters to God and to our neighbors.

Can we be faithful without being fruitful? Jesus says that a faithful life will be a fruitful life – a life of relational intimacy, vocational productivity and neighborly love.  Fruitfulness really matters.


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Topics: Pastoral Wholeness

About the Author

Tom Nelson serves as the president of Made to Flourish and is the author of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Five Smooth Stones: Discovering the Path to Wholeness of Soul, Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Design for the Church, and The Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community's Compassion and Capacity.  Tom is a regular speaker and facilitator on faith, work, and economics. He is also the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas City. He has served on the Board of Regents of Trinity International University and is on the leadership team of the Oikonomia Network. He graduated with a master’s of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and received his doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Tom and his wife, Liz, have two grown children and reside in Leawood, Kansas.