Faithfulness (The Meaningful Life Series)
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 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. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:1-13
Last Sunday we had the pleasure of listening to Lizzie (UCL Chaplain) deliver a sermon on Faithfulness.
She began by explaining that faithfulness is a two-sided coin. One the one side is our faithfulness to God, and on the other is his faithfulness to us. Our faithfulness is built upon his: we are faithful to God because we know he is faithful to us. On the other hand, his faithfulness is not dependent on ours, as verse 13 above states - 'if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself'.
Faith itself is separate from belief. Belief describes how we think or feel internally, while faith usually refers to how we act: faith can be thought about as acting on what we believe. Faithfulness, therefore, means continually living out a life that demonstrates what we believe, no matter the circumstances, no matter how we feel.
An example of a life of faithfulness is Lizzie's former youth leader, who made a commitment to God that he would share the good news of Jesus Christ with at least one person every day. One night while getting into bed, he realised that he had not shared the gospel with someone that day. Rather than putting that thought aside and going to sleep, he put his slippers on and wandered out into the street. Sure enough, he came across a lorry driver who had taken a wrong turn into their neighbourhood. Boldly, he stood in the road to wave this driver down, and invited him in for tea. The driver accepted, after chatting late into the night, he decided to give his life to the Lord.
That doesn't mean that faithfulness has to look exactly the same way in your life, but making a commitment, setting a rule, or establishing habits that demonstrate our love for and commitment to God is a very good way to build a life of faithfulness, especially because it involves committing to live a certain lifestyle, even when we don't feel like it, even when it's inconvenient. This could look like committing to pray for 5 minutes every morning before starting the day, reading the Bible during each commute, or simply making sure you go to church every Sunday.
The important thing to remember is that God remains faithful, even when we are not. It can be scary to commit to a new lifestyle change or habit, because we know we are not prone to keeping to our promises. However, don't be discouraged if you fall short. 'God knows how weak we are, he remembers that we are only dust' (Psalm 103:14). He lived among us, he understands the difficulty, and he gives us time to grow and strengthen our habits. Even when we are unfaithful, he can return to him with the assurance that his love remains steadfast towards us, and we can try again. As you step out to live a more faithful life, he will give you the grace to endure.
Especially during this season of Lent, why not commit to giving something up, or taking up a new spiritual practice, just for the next few weeks? You might it gruelling and agree to stop after Easter, or you might find it a life-giving way to demonstrate your love for God that you want to continue into the year ahead. You won't know unless you try! Start small, be faithful with little, and watch a faithful life grow from those small commitments of faithfulness.
Image courtesy of RedeemingGod.com