If someone were to ask you the question, “What does faithfulness look like?” Or, “What does a faithful Christian look like?” In this lesson I want to offer some answers to that very important question.
“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 will enter”. Jesus said in a similar passage, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Seeing that faith arises from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17), a person who is faithful will continue to hear and obey God’s word throughout their life. Compare with Hebrews chapter 11. In that chapter faith is continually defined as hearing and obeying, as in Abel offered (11:4), Enoch was pleasing to God (11:5), Noah prepared an ark (11:7), and Abraham obeyed (11:8). The Holy Spirit then says, “All these died in faith” (11:13), that is, all these died faithful, or still believing and still obeying. So faithfulness is to be a lifetime pursuit (Revelation 2:10 “Be faithful unto death”).
“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Psalm 15:1-4).
So a faithful person is moral person. Such a person abhors evil (Romans 12:9), especially in his own life. He or she clearly appreciates the friendship of others who are seeking to accomplish the same purpose. What caught my attention in this section was the idea that a godly man will keep a commitment even when that commitment starts to become very costly.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock”. So hearing and obeying the words of Jesus is a wise move, yet centuries before this a Psalmist worried that what do the righteous do when such a solid and wise foundation is rejected by the vast majority in society: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). Yet, an answer is quickly given. God allows such to happen from time to time, for it is a test, not just for the righteous but for everyone else as well (Psalm 11:5). Faithfulness is the determination to hold on to the right foundation even when holding to that foundation becomes very inconvenient, dangerous and unpopular. Thus, the faithful Christian will still hold on what Jesus says, even if the entire rest of the world says that such is the wrong point of view. Nothing can move the dedicated Christian from such a foundation. Is any cultural force beginning to move you off of that foundation?
“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself”
Daniel could accept the new teaching (Daniel 1:4), because he could filter it (Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 Timothy 6:20), and the new languages because truth is truth in any language. He could accept the name change, because you cannot control what people from call you and he still knew that he was Daniel. The matter of eating from the king’s table was another problem, seeing that many of these foods were violations of the Jewish food laws. So instead of trying to divide up God’s laws into important and not-so-important laws, or moral verses ceremonial laws, Daniel knew that every command that God had given is important. Daniel also knew that obeying the commands of God is not legalism, and Daniel equally knew that the way to resist temptation is to make up his mind; he knew the difference between obedience and disobedience, and that success or failure is the decision that is made in the heart. Here we equally learn that someone who desires to remain faithful to God is a resourceful person. They do not give up. Daniel at once sought to move heaven and earth so that he would not defile himself (1:9ff).
One temptation that often confronts believers is the idea that this or that command of God is small or unimportant. Daniel did not argue that while the laws concerning adultery and murder were the big laws, that the laws concerning food were the small ones. Every law from God is important and essential. Obviously, a holy, wise and all-knowing Creator would never give legislation that is unimportant. Centuries later Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night”.
Faithfulness involves not just obeying what the Bible says, but delighting in what it says. Bible study is to be more than just learning dates, places and names; rather it must include meditating on the text. Over the centuries, every man who has sought to remain or be faithful has had the same general goals:
- When I die I desire to do so with confidence, knowing that I am prepared to meet my Maker.
- I want to gain the upper hand in my life when it comes to temptation, whether that is anger, lust, or pride.
- I want to become the best version of myself. I desire to be a good parent, husband, and citizen.
- I want to have an impact and help others; that my existence made a difference.
- I want to have the answers for all the pressing questions of life.
- I want to avoid being fooled or deceived.
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near”.
Faithfulness in attendance would include attending with the purpose to encourage others and not simply expecting all the encouragement to be centered towards me. If someone were to ask, “What does faithfulness in attendance look like?” I believe here would be some fair evaluations:
- It is a level of attendance where it looks like God comes first in my life: Matthew 6:33
- It is a level of attendance where is looks like that I do love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength: Matthew 22:37
- It is an attendance where it looks like God is number 1 in my life and not number 3.
- It is an attendance where is looks like my relationship to God is the overarching priority in my life and that serving and honoring Him is vitally important to me.
- It is an attendance that looks like I really believe that Jesus might come at any time (2 Peter 3:10), and judge me for how I have lived, including what I did with my life, time and talents, and that I am ready.
The Optimism of Faithfulness
- God wins: Philippians 2:9
- Whatever God expects me to do, I can do: Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:13
- I am already winning: 1 Corinthians 6:11
- This is the best way to live, I am on the right track: Acts 26:29