Being Faithful. Day ten...
I know of two different business owners who kept their one‐employee businesses open long after they wanted to close them down. They kept them open until their employees reached their full retirement age.
Do you think there was some faithfulness going on here?
God is like the perfect business owner, or the perfect parent. He is always faithful to those under His care. But unlike even a perfect business owner or a perfect parent, God is not perfect by man's standards. He is perfectly faithful by His own standards and they are better than ours:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9 ESV)
While God is always faithful to us, we are not always faithful to Him. And we've taken a look, over the last couple of days, at what it means to be unfaithful to Him.
But what does it mean to be faithful to God?
As I was teaching on this subject last week, one of the men asked me after class, “How do you be faithful to God?”
While it would be simple enough to put together a list of the requirements for being faithful, I believe it is better to take a look at faithfulness as it is displayed in some examples from the Bible.
Job demonstrated an unusual example of faithfulness.
After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job's prayer. (Job 42:7–9 ESV)
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. (Job 42:10–11 ESV)
A superficial look at the events in Job's life would indicate that God must have been punishing Job for unfaithfulness of some kind. That's at least what Job's so‐called friends thought. And then there was God's correction: “Brace yourself like a man…” (see Job 38:1–42:6) which should make any of us shudder.
But after this whole ordeal God referred to Job as His servant (which, in this case, was a title of honor rather than servitude), and restored him double—indicating God's pleasure with Job.
Moses was not a perfect man, but he was a faithful man.
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. (Numbers 12:1–4 ESV)
And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. (Numbers 12:5–9 ESV)
Moses lived under the old‐covenant law, but he didn't much act like he lived under the law. We, on the other hand, don't have to live under the law, but we often act more legalistic than Moses did.
I say this because Moses lived with a greater amount of grace than many of us, who live under grace, often do. If Moses had something to say to God, he said it; we're often too afraid to be transparent before the Lord.
And Moses certainly didn't perform perfectly. There was the murder of the Egyptian (see Exodus 2:11‐15) that put him in exile. There was the striking of the rock (see Numbers 20:8–12) that kept him out of the Promised Land.
But God considered Moses to be faithful, even personally burying him (see Deuteronomy 34:1–7). Think about that. God wouldn't let Moses enter the Promised Land, but He showed Moses the Promised Land. Moses apparently died in God's presence, because God Himself buried Moses in a valley in Moab. What a way to go!
Samuel was faithful to God even though he was raised with Eli and his two worthless sons.
But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:18a NLT)
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people. (1 Samuel 2:26 NLT)
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. (1 Samuel 3:19–20 ESV)
From my understanding, to let none of his words fall to the ground meant that any word Samuel spoke came to pass. God did not let one of Samuel's words fall to the ground. Samuel was so in tune in with God that God could support whatever Samuel said. Samuel was faithful to God and God honored Samuel.
John was the disciple whom Jesus loved.
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two‐edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.” (Revelation 1:9–19 ESV)
John was caught up in a life‐long love affair with Jesus. The evidence is clear in John's writings and his life. According to extra‐Biblical sources, the Roman Emperor Domitian sentenced John to be thrown into a vat of boiling oil, which John survived unharmed.
John was faithful to Jesus as he lived alone in what was probably a cave on the island of Patmos. Imagine John's joy when Jesus honored him with a visitation and the inspired words of the book of Revelation.
Do we have this same kind of faithfulness to God? Or are we caught up in a kind of faithfulness that's more about the trappings than the Person?
The religious leaders of Jesus' time twisted the concept of faithfulness. They were more faithful to the law than they were to God. So they were completely blind to Jesus, the Author of the Word, when He interrupted their religious practices and challenged their understanding of His Words.
But are we so different from them? If Jesus were to appear to us today as He appeared to them, and challenged our understanding of His Word, would we embrace and defend our own Biblical understanding and religious practices? Or would we throw aside anything that had our name written on it and just embrace Him?
Have a good day,