Saturday, March 5, 2011

What is Faithfulness?

God has had me on the topic of faithfulness a lot this year!

We read a lot about faithfulness in the Bible.  I think it can easily become a word we hear and even nod our heads at its mention in church, but have little clue of the beauty behind it.  It is just another "church word."

We certainly like to hear about God's faithfulness.  He'll always be there; never leave; never forsake; always love... even if we're messing up, even if we're not making it easy.  He's always true to His Word.  He always surrounds us with love.  It all sounds, well, perfect.  Afterall, He is perfect!

What about the fact that we are called to be faithful to Him?  We tend to get lost somewhere between "God is faithful" and "We are faithful", probably because it does not come natural for us. Suddenly the term faithful means something entirely different when we personalize it, or at least we think it should. 

We think,
  • "I believe in you God. I know you exist." and equate that to being faithful. 
  • "I'll do what You ask (when it makes sense to me or when I stop long enough to hear you)" and equate that to being faithful.
  • "I'll go to church on Sunday" and equate that to being faithful.

In truth, faithfulness does include those things (apart from the italics of course) but there is so much more than acknowledgment, easy obedience, and routine.  We would never be satisfied with a god who met our own definition of faithfulness; we certainly expect more from Him.  But somehow we're ok with mediocre expectations for ourselves. 

We're ok with convenient faithfulness. 

What an oxymoron!  There is nothing convenient about faithfulness.  Easy? No, or at least not initially.  Rewarding? Yes.  There is everything rewarding about faithfulness.  In fact a quick look in the Bible, proves this point.  Again and again when God calls us to be faithful, he promises a reward for it.  Just two examples...
  •      "A faithful person will be richly blessed." Proverbs 28:20
  •      "So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today - to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul - then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil." Deuteronomy 11:13, 14
When we look at the faithful hall of fame in Hebrews 11, it is easy to connect faithfulness with reward in those examples.  But notice the small list of names.  Out of all those that had come before, even all those great ones from the Old Testament, only 18 individual names were listed.  Faithfulness is not easy.

As a mom, I must practice faithfulness to my son daily.  There is an expectation on all parents to be faithful to their children, to care for each need, to be true to their word, to protect them, teach them, love them, comfort them.  I am to be faithful day in and day out.  I miss one day and my child suffers.  I cannot break that faithfulness.  It is needed.   It is expected. 

But my son has a responsibility to be faithful to me as well, even at 2 years old.  He must learn to trust me, to obey me even though he doesn't understand why, to accept my comfort and my care, to control himself so that he remains under my protection.  As he grows and becomes more aware of his own personal will, difficulties begin to appear.  He does not want to wash his hands before eating.  He does not want to take the medicine that will help him. He does not want to be true to his word.  He thinks it will be more fun playing in the next aisle at the store than staying near mommy.  He does not understand why any of this is important.  In his toddler brain, he doesn't believe it is important.  He has learned that faithfulness is not convenient. 

That's because true faithfulness is not a physical concept but a spiritual one.  We cannot be faithful if we are living by what we see, feel, hear, even what we think.   

Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  That's a scripture you have to think about for awhile. It's never been an easy one for me to mull over in my brain.

The Amplified version says this... "NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]."

I like that last part, we perceive as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. That's a hard one for us to grasp let alone walk out in our lives.  When we live by what we can perceive, we do not live in faithfulness.  Despite our personal feelings on the matter, the truth is we are not the expert on ... well on anything.

We cannot see God.  Faith is being absolutely convinced, as if we hold the conclusive results in our hands that He does exist AND that He is who He says He is.   We do not see the Spirit at work or the battles being fought today in the spiritual realm by God's angels. Some may even hesitate when reading that sentence and think I've gone a little too far (I suggest reading Daniel btw). Faith if being 100% sure that each of thsoe statemenst are true are, as confident in that as we are that the title to our car means it is ours.  We know it's true because God said it in His Word.  We are so confident in fact, that we base our actions on it.  That's when God can bless us. 

As Caleb grows, I am learning that faithfulness is most beautiful when there are two willing parties. When both of us are acting in faithfulness towards each other, peace is easy and growth is fast. Caleb must completely trust that mom knows more than he knows, that mom has reasons for what she says and for what she asks of him. The more he waivers in his faithfulness to trust or to obey me, to stand by me, the more trouble appears between us/  It means the less I can do with him, the less I can trust him with and the less I can bless him with. Our relationship grows as I act in faith towards him AND as he acts in faith towards me. It is easy to see in the parent-child relationship. It is easy to see between a husband and wife.

But we fail to make the same application between us and God.  When it comes to our relationship with God, we expect all the blessings with none of the responsibility.  And we often go so far as to get mad when the blessings aren't there, jealous when others receive them and not us.

God is taking care of His part. He does not waver in that. But when we mistake convenience for faithfulness, we are completely missing the mark on our part. And then of course we can't fathom why life isn't working out as we intended... or even better... as He intended. 

God's plans are ever so perfect.  As a mom, I so hope that Caleb learns and grows in his trust so that I CAN pour out the blessings.  That's the exciting part!  God's doing the same thing, so very excited when we allow Him to pour out those blessings.  When we believe Him enough and are faithful enough to get all He had hoped and planned for, what an excited Daddy He is!


Lauren @ Magnify the Lord with Me said...

Beautiful, Becca. Love the part about two willing parties. Thank you for sharing this reflection!

e g allis said...

When both of us are acting in faithfulness towards each other, peace is easy and growth is fast.[...] The more he waivers in his faithfulness to trust or to obey me, to stand by me, the more trouble appears between us.

--This is a profound observation for me. I was actually thinking about God and His faithfulness today, but I rarely stop to think of my role in the relationship. Thanks for posting.

(Followed you over from BabyCenter. Hope that's alright.:)