Faithful. Loyal. Trustworthy. What thoughts do these words bring to mind?
Did any of you think, “Yep. That’s me, alright!”
When I asked the Lord what I should be writing for this week’s blog, that word “faithful” came up. I did not associate myself with that word immediately. I know my heart, and it’s not for the Lord all day, every day.
I feel sad resignation at the senseless oppression and violence in our world and wonder when something like Nice or Baton Rouge will happen in my town. It’s already happened in another city in our region.
I sometimes (though not usually) become leery when I see families in a mall whom I assume are from another ethnic group whose religion incites violence against people who are not from their religion. People like me.
I get irritated at idiot drivers who race from the fast lane all the way across the freeway to make the off ramp.
I annoy myself at not being able to lose the weight I know I need to lose because I follow my cravings more than I follow my goals.
“Well, no one’s perfect,” you may mumble. “No one can perfectly obey God all the time!”
Thank you, my friend, but that is not the point. It’s a given, that no one is perfect. That’s why Jesus came to die for our sins.
The point is that no matter how loyal we think we are to God, He knows our hearts and He remains more loyal to us than we are to Him. Despite ourselves, He loves us tremendously. He is willing and able to transform us into His faithful, loyal servants as we keep ourselves real with a balanced perspective based on God’s Word.
Once upon a time, I used to think I was a pretty good Christian. I thought I was pretty loyal to God. I guess if I’d have been born a boy, I would have been named Peter Simon. Like Judas Iscariot, we could each have gone up to Jesus and whispered, “Is is I?” (Matthew 26:24-25) and He would have said Yes. But, because we already belong to Him, He might have said, “but I have prayed for you, that your faith won’t fail” (Luke 22:31-32).
I zealously completed my religious duties and took my responsibilities seriously. I saw Him begin the transformation of not only the outward me of my words and actions, but the inward me—my motives, attitudes, thinking, priorities, and values. I surrounded myself with people just like me—Christian singles who were also zealous for the Lord.
I thought I was doing pretty good. Then “incidents” began to appear in my life that exposed my immaturity and pride. They revealed the ugly arenas in my heart that I hadn’t surrendered to Him. They pressured me to blurt out and react from what had gone underground in my soul, like a scab that had been ripped off of an old but active infection. Like Judas, I became disappointed that the Lord wouldn’t change my circumstances. After decades of faithful tithing, I “stole from the money bag” by not tithing consistently because I didn’t want to support a decaying church that had gone ethically bankrupt instead of praying or leaving. It was ugly!
In my life, as in your life, these are the incidents that make me—and make you—most reactive, more stubborn and determined not to change, or more focused on self-preservation or self-promotion.
My single Christian friend, what does it take to get you to that point?
Who—what personality type or character flaw—gets to you the quickest?
It took some serious incidents and pressure from the enemy to demonstrate that I was not as loyal to the Lord as I’d thought I was. What a surprise and a disappointment it was to no one but me! I had to go back to Square One and concentrate on the Lord and His love and promises to me, rather than focus on myself. It’s human nature to become myopic and self-focused, whether in a demeaning, condemning way or a prideful, self-righteous way. Either way, it’s bad, and I wanted to avoid that.
What does the Word of God have to say about our hearts?
Bad news: nothing good!
Jeremiah 17:9-10 says,
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.” (NLT)
Proverbs 28:26 in the classic Amplified Version says,
“He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a [self-confident] fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly Wisdom shall be delivered.”
Christian Single, have you been following your heart instead of guarding it (Proverbs 4:23)?
Jesus’ commentary on our hearts is no better. In Matthew 15:18-20A, He said, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man…” (NASB).
And it says Jesus knew the fickle hearts of mankind and refused to commit Himself to the crowds clamoring to make Him an earthly king by force (John 2:23-25 and 6:13-15).
So… He knows ALL about us—all the old sins as well as current, hidden sins we’ve managed to shelter from others, the foibles we can’t hide from certain people, all the faults we’ve been able to hide from ourselves—and loves us ANYWAY. That is one of the most amazing things ever to come at us from the heart of God. That’s mind-blowing. Incomprehensible. Not a little, but a lot Crazy.
Not only does He love us, but He is faithful to us. Unreasonably, unreservedly, unfathomably, faithful to us.
Moses described the character of God as faithful in Deuteronomy 7:9. He also described God as faithful when he reviewed the history of his people before he died. In Deuteronomy 32:3-4, he said,
“For I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.” (NLT)
There are also many references to His faithfulness in the Psalms (https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=NASB&quicksearch=faithful&startnumber=26 ). That’s crazy. Why would God be so faithful to people?
Christian Single, how has He demonstrated His faithfulness and love to you?
In the New Testament, Hebrews 13:5 tells us that He will never fail or abandon us. One may argue that due to a certain bad incident, He did fail or abandon us. Our emotions may tell us He has, but the spiritual reality that we have to live by if we are going to not only survive, but thrive, is that He has not actually failed or abandoned us. For a study in “Where the heck is God? My whole entire world just suddenly, completely got thrashed!” read the first 2 chapters in the book of Job.
The Bible teaches that He cannot deny who He is in our lives even if we are unfaithful. 2 Timothy 2:13 tells us that “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”
Jesus Himself said that He would be with us until ‘the end of the age’ in Matthew 28:20. That’s all we need, man!
That’s also crazy. I guess He really does love us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). I love that old song by David Crowder that speaks so strongly of God’s crazy love for us. See it here with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FxaUYjRtkc
He knows how fickle and unfaithful we are to Him, yet He adores us as beloved, royal children and sees potential in us. He wants to remake us into His image because He knows that will bring us ultimate joy. We are not a project or a pawn to Him. We are souls whom He loved and died for. He wants us to share in the joy of bringing light and life into the world.
To that eternal purpose, He constrained Himself to live inside of us, transform us from the inside out, and never, ever leave us.
He knew there was no way we could do anything of eternal significance in our own lost and sorry state. He knew He had to do it all. It was the only way any of His purposes was ever going to happen.
If He can win your cooperation and support to be transformed from the inside, Christian single, you will find His faithfulness, loyalty and trustworthiness being duplicated inside of you. It won’t be something you have to fake.
Christian Single, what are the arenas of your heart and life that you have been holding back from God?
When the Lord showed me I was to write on being faithful, He showed me that He has been training me how to be faithful at different levels. At the job, in church, in my own life, with friends and family, through grad school, through spiritual warfare, through horrible slander, He has been teaching me how to be loyal to Him. Using my clients and colleagues at work, my clients through church counseling, using family and friends during bad times, using my old car (now it has over 320,000 miles!), even using this blog and idiot drivers, He has been discipling me to be more consistent and a better representative of Him.
I’m slowly getting to the point that when I see those idiot drivers, I pray for them.
I pray for those religious families to be saved. I remind myself that not everyone in a particular religion believes in all its tenets, and many of them are ashamed and angry about the mass killings perpetrated by their most fanatical followers.
The best day to restart a new and healthy habit is today. For lunch I had leftover chicken salad sandwiches and salad, a nice change from the BBQ ribs I’ve been craving for weeks. If I would eat breakfast at home and a light, high-protein snack like low-fat Greek yogurt after my workout, I would start seeing results on the scale. I need to restock on Greek yogurt and take my lunch this week.
As I remind myself that my tithes and offerings go to the Lord through His church, I’m slowly getting back to tithing more consistently in the church where I now serve as a member.
I don’t have to keep a Judas heart that betrays Him. It’s a relief to know that, as I cooperate more with the Holy Spirit by obedience, He will continue to train me how to be faithful to Him. And I can love Him back wholeheartedly (Deuteronomy 6:5; Psalm 73:25-26, 86:11 and 119:10 & 32).
Christian Single, how do you see Him duplicating His own faithfulness in your heart and life?