No, that’s not a typo in the title. I know how to spell the word “faithful. ”
I just typed it that way for emphasis.
The secular world often labels followers of Jesus “the faithful,” and their definition seems to imply we’re loons, fanatics, or non-thinking people. The truth is quite the opposite.
Faithfulness is a main characteristic of God (Psalm 92:2)–and should describe us also.
Here’s what it means.
Be Faith Full
I took some time this morning to count the Bibles in my library, which number forty-five. I’m grateful for that wealth of having access to God’s Word and know there are many people today who don’t possess the Bible in their mother tongue–even in the 21st century.
YWAM has a wonderful project called “End Bible Poverty Now” which is committed to changing that. Here’s where you can get involved or contribute to every person on earth having God’s Word in their own language.
Of my forty-five Bibles, I’ve used about twenty of them in my daily devotions over the past five decades. Another ten were gifts to me, some in different languages from around the world. The others are special editions or study Bibles I’ve used from time to time. I even possess an 1853 edition of God’s Word–published exactly one hundred years before I was born.
But there is one Bible in my collection that stands out.
I received it from my grandparents for Christmas, in 1969, when I was sixteen. It’s black, has small print, King James Version, and filled with many “thees” and “thous.” Because I gave my life to Christ just eight months before, receiving it meant a lot to me though I didn’t dig the language.
One part of that Bible means the most–that I treasure more each year. Herman and Lucille Boehme, my German grandparents, listed on the dedication page a reference to Revelation 2:10:
“Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.”
When I was young, death seemed a million miles away. Now that I’m much older, it seems right before my eyes.
And I want to be faithful unto death.
What does that mean?
When we think of the concept of being “faithful,” a number of synonyms probably come to mind.
- Loyalty – a faithful person is loyal to God and others.
- Consistency – faithfulness shows itself in a steadiness or consistency of life that follows through and can be relied upon.
- Dependable – a person of their word who can be counted on through thick and thin.
Despite various failures, throughout my lifetime I’ve tried to be loyal, consistent and dependable to those I love and serve. A key to that is a disciplined life that chooses to do what’s right despite feelings, temptations, and distractions.
By God’s grace alone, I’ve been able to live out the qualities of loyalty or dependability in various settings. Here are some examples:
- Voting in every election since 1972 (please be diligent to do the same this year).
- Walking a cross through Port Orchard on Good Friday twenty-four out of twenty-five years.
- Taking the Gospel to the nation of Mongolia for twenty-nine years.
- Participating in the National Day of Prayer in Washington, D.C. thirty-five out of thirty-eight years.
- Serving as a member of one local church for forty years.
- Being supported as a missionary of that same church for forty-two years.
- Being married to a wonderful woman for forty-six years.
- Serving in Youth With A Mission for forty-eight years.
The reason I remember these numbers and events is that as of this coming Sunday, October 30, 2012, I have kept a personal journal for fifty straight years.
My first entry was October 30, 1972, in Auckland, New Zealand.
A wise Kiwi named Blythe Harper told me when I was studying there and trying to figure out my life’s path to do two things faithfully. 1) Read three-to-five chapters of the Bible devotionally every day to cover the entire Bible in a year, and 2) Keep a spiritual journal of God’s work in my life (people, places, events, and lessons).
I’ve done both faithfully, with God’s help, for half a century.
Take a moment to think about your own acts of faithfulness. Examples probably stand out in your own marriage and family life. Others might relate to vocation, ministry, your home church or mission, specialty groups (high school reunions or other associations), or maybe one individual person whom you’ve loved and served for decades.
Thank you for your years of faithful service to Jesus and others. That’s a life well lived.
One the other hand, some of us of us also have stories of regret, brokenness, and the need for God to repair or resurrect a relationship or situation that was damaged due to unfaithfulness–either by us or others.
I do–and I’m sure you can relate because we’re all human.
I’ve come to believe that faithfulness is not primarily practiced by will power that demonstrates loyalty, consistency, and steady behavior.
The English word gives us insight: to be faithful is to be full of faith. When our lives are filled with divine inspiration (faith)–and are constantly being topped off–then our actions will correspond with displays of loyalty, steadiness, and dependability.
The key is faith.
No wonder Jesus’ disciples asked him in Luke 17:5-7: “Increase our faith.”
Twelve years ago while “numbering my days,” I wrote the following entry in my journal. (I had lived 20,748 days at that point and hoped to live another 10,000–to reach the age of eighty-five.)
December 18, 2010 – 20,748 – 9,996 .
“This is a momentous day as the numbers indicate above. My days left on earth (if I live to eighty-five years of age), have now dipped for the first time into four digits. Two thirds of my life is truly behind me, and one third (plus eternity) is ahead.
“Father, I ask for deeper love for Jesus, stronger character, increased faith, and multiplied fruitfulness in this final third of life. Hopefully, I have learned a few things by now and can apply them in my life and work. If life is trimesters, then I have entered the third and final one. The second trimester, is now over. Yes, I want to be FAITH FULL unto death.”
So, how do we get filled up with faith? By plugging into God daily in prayer, praise, and reading his Word. He is the one that fuels our faith to do great works of love and service for his Kingdom advance.
He wants us to be faithful—full of faith–unto death.
Let’s let him fill our tanks with the divine fuel of trusting him–full to the brim and overflowing each and every day.