I was appalled to see this picture and headline on CNN Sunday afternoon. What a sad resolution to make! Get a divorce? I thought that maybe the headline was just to shock you and get your attention, but the first woman interviewed actually said, in what seemed a casual manner, that “she was making getting a divorce her priority in 2011.” She has been separated from her husband for three years and kept putting off filing for a divorce, but “she was ready now and looking forward to a fresh start.”
This lady’s statements provided a stark contrast to what I was thinking about as I walked away from the morning service. Pastor ended his sermon talking about living faithfully this year, and then Joaquin sang “Find us Faithful,” so I was pondering the idea of faithfulness when I saw this article.
I’ve been thinking much about faithfulness, since putting together my New Year’s resolutions and list of 40-before-40. The Christian life requires faithfulness to the Lord. Faithfulness is motivated by love for the Lord, who is first faithful and loving toward us, and is possible because of the Holy Spirit’s power. A quick survey of passages about faithfulness reveals that many of the passages relate to God’s faithfulness to His people:
- The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
- Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations (Deut. 7:9).
- “The Rock, his work is perfect,for all his ways are justice.A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4).
- “Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly” (Neh. 9:33).
- “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness” (Ps. 33:4).
- Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds (Ps. 36:5).
- As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! (Ps. 40:11).
- He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God (Ps. 98:3).
- For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them (Is. 61:8).
- The LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you (Jer. 31:3).
- God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (I Cor. 1:9).
- Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war (Rev. 19:11).
Man is often described as being unfaithful to God:
- And he said, “I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness” (Deut. 32:30).
- Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly (Neh. 9:33).
- Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant (Ps. 78:37).
- Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land (Hosea 4:1).
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Mt. 23:23).
- If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself (II TIm. 2:13)
But faithfulness to God and others is possible:
- Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house (Num. 12:7).
- And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day (I Kings 3:6).
- I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me (Ps. 119:30).
- His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’ (Mt. 25:21).
- Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things (I Tim. 3:11).
- And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (II TIm. 2:2).
Often, in the New Testament especially, man’s faithfulness is shown to be possible because of God’s grace and the filling of the Holy Spirit:
- No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (I Cor. 10:13).
- As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No (II Cor. 1:18).
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Gal. 5:22).
- Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (I Thess. 5:23-24).
- But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (II Thess. 3:3)
- I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service (I Tim. 1:12).
- Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).
I could have chosen many more passages to illustrate each of these points, so I encourage you to look up these verses and see this theme of God’s faithfulness throughout Scripture. I was encouraged by the reminders of God’s faithfulness to His people in the past and to His people now. As I look at how faithful God has been, I can more easily trust that God will be faithful forever. I was also challenged to faithfully serve God. As Kevin DeYoung says, the church needs more “plodding visionaries” who will serve God faithfully every day of their lives (his sermon on the church is really good, by the way).
After Joaquin sang “Find us Faithful” on Sunday morning, I found this video. I really appreciate Steve’s testimony to God’s faithfulness before he sings this song.