We’re continuing the message series entitled, “I AM” where we learn how God describes Himself. We are then challenged to go out and be the salt and light of the world in that same way. Or, as John wrote:
1 John 4:17
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment:
In this world we are like Jesus. Or in the KJV: As He is, so are we in this world.
Since our view of who God is can be very easily distorted by our experiences with Him and that they can often reveal more about us than about who He is, we’re going to stick to God’s direct quotes of how He describes Himself.
So far, we’ve learned that God is compassionate, holy, with us, love, and that essential aspect of love; jealous. This week, we’re being reminded that God declares, “I AM: faithful.”
Although God’s faithfulness has always been very evident, the first time that God is recorded in the scriptures declaring this about Himself is to the prophet Jeremiah. Here, both the nations of Israel as well as Judah, which split from the other tribes, have become totally unfaithful to God. God raises up the prophet Jeremiah to give these nations the consistent reminder that if they would only confess their sins and turn away from them (repent), that He would save and restore them.
11 The Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,’”
declares the Lord.
Even when we are unfaithful, or worse, faithless, still God is faithful. It’s not just a promise of God, it is part of His character and the essence of who He is. God is faithful and even when we are unfaithful to Him, He still patiently waits on us and draws us back to Himself. He provides opportunity after opportunity for us to turn back to Him. How awesome is our faithful God? He truly always hopes, always trusts, and always perseveres!
We not only admire faithfulness in our relationships with others, we have an unspoken requirement and demand for it. Say we receive a local ad from a business running a great deal on our favorite item. We make a special trip out to the store to stock up on that item only to find that the business won’t honor the advertised price claiming that it was a misprint. Are we usually understanding or are we frustrated and enraged because of their unfaithfulness?
Suppose that a friend says that they want to get together with you, so you agree and pick a place, date, and time to meet. You show up and find that your friend isn’t there. 5 minutes later, 10 minutes later, 20 minutes later they still aren’t there. You call them, many rings, but no answer. You text them, no answer. A few days later, you receive a text back from them apologizing that they missed you, but something else came up. Are we understanding or are we tempted to do the same thing to them the next time you decide to hang out together?
No one likes to be let down, deceived, disappointed, or neglected. There is within us an innate requirement for faithfulness. We do not feel the need to communicate it or verify it, we simply require it. We expect when others commit to something, that they will actually commit to it. It is only after we have encountered unfaithfulness in others consistently that we begin to lower our expectations of them in order to prevent further and deeper hurt and pain in our lives. We become sort of like these people:
* Nationwide – Impersonal Commercial *
No one likes to be treated in these ways. We have the need to be valued and respected. When others are unfaithful to us, these needs are crushed. We feel that we are not valuable and completely disrespected by those who are unfaithful to us.
Thankfully, we will never experience this from God. He is faithful to us always. We are incredibly valued, loved, and respected by Him. In fact, I believe that our innate requirement for faithfulness is derived from us being created in God’s image. Faithfulness is just as valuable and required by Him. Whenever Jesus was warning the people about the Pharisees, He gave a list of seven woes toward them. One was this:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Yes, tithing is very important. After all, who would want to rob God and accept His curse instead of His blessing over their finances? In fact, the Pharisees were so very cautious to obey God in this matter that they even tithed on their spices! However, tithing is just one of the many expressions of the more valuable matters of God’s Kingdom: faithfulness.
According to Merriam-Webster, to be faithful is to be, well quite obviously, full of faith. It means that we are steadfast in our allegiance, to be firm in the adherence to our promises. Jesus taught about this type of faithfulness in the sermon on the mount:
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
We require and admire faithfulness in others, however, faithfulness on our part can be difficult. We frequently overextend ourselves and are far too afraid to simply say to someone, “No.” We say “Yes.” to so many things that conflicts begin to quickly occur and our faithfulness quickly transitions into unfaithfulness. We have a whole list of truthful excuses and legitimate reasons why we have become unfaithful. Jesus, however, made faithfulness a very black and white matter. All excuses and reasons aside, Jesus said that all you need is to simply let you yes be yes and your no be no. He actually went on to say that anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
James repeated this teaching as well:
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
In the midst of Hebrews chapter 11, the great list of faithful men and women of the scriptures, we are reminded that:
without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
We are also reminded at the beginning of this chapter that:
Now faith is sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
When you setup a meeting with someone, we hope that meeting will take place and we’re certain of it, even though we have not yet seen it. In the church, we have a tendency to think of faith as only applying to supernatural miracles. However, the reality is that we live our lives by faith every single day.
Much of our daily routine requires faith. Even when we turn the handle of our sink, we are acting in faith. We are sure of the water we hope for and are certain that it will come even though we cannot see it. When we are going to get a shower, we turn the handle for hot water by faith. In fact, we often have more faith in our hot water heater than we do in God. We stand there enduring the bitter cold water with full expectation and assurance that the water will soon begin to turn warm and then finally hot. We have faith in our hot water heater even though we do not immediately feel the results.
However, when we pray in accordance with God’s word do we have such faith? Are we willing to endure the bitter season in between that prayer and its answer that often exists to mature and prepare us for His promises and blessings? Will we continue to press into God’s presence with that same full expectation and assurance that we place in our water heater? It’s certainly something to think about and a good reminder for us to be faithful.
We are also reminded of Sarah:
And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Very often the degree of our faith depends on the degree of how well we know the person that we’re depending on. If someone has frequently been unfaithful to us, then our faith in them won’t be very great. If we are meeting someone for the first time, we won’t have much faith in them. However, the more and more that we get to know someone and the more that they prove their faithfulness to us, the more faith we will place in them.
This rings just as true when it comes to God. We will put as much faith in Him, His word, and His promises as we’ve come to know Him. The more that we know Him, the more faith that we will have in Him. The less that we know God, the less faith we will have in Him. God is always faithful and will never change. However, He will only trust us and put as much faith in us as we prove that we are able to handle.
God is not a god of pure chance like the lottery. He rewards the faithful and punishes the unfaithful. This teaching goes against the grain of our culture that is embracing socialism more and more, but it is the absolute truth of God and our absolute reality.
14 “The coming of the Kingdom of God will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
God is faithful. He is so faithful that He will not give us more than our ability can handle or manage. He is also so faithful that He will give us what our ability can handle or manage. The deciding factor, the variable, is always us and never God. We can place our full faith and trust in God, but what can He trust us with?
God, who always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres, wants to entrust us with His entire Kingdom! There are very few things that the scriptures indicate are withheld from us. We will never know the precise date/time of the end, we will never be able to unfurl the wrath of God, and there are some crowns and rewards reserved only for those who have earned them. Those seem to be the only limitations that I could find. God desires to give to you the priceless riches and greatest revelations that He has to offer. We, however, must be faithful to Him. It is through faith that we earnestly seek after Him, through faith that we come to know Him, and through faith that we receive everything from Him.
God is faithful and if “as He is, so are we in this world,” then we must also be faithful. People should be able to fully trust the words that come from our mouths. People should be able to trust that we will show up when and where we said we would. People should be able to trust that when I commit to do something that it will be done. We must be faithful in all things even as God is faithful in all things.
We could read through testimony after testimony found in the scriptures as well as hearing them from our own personal testimonies here in this room of God’s faithfulness. He has proven Himself over and over again and will never cease to do so for He was telling the absolute truth when He declared, “I AM Faithful.” In closing, be encouraged by these quick, one-line reminders found in the New Testament of God’s faithfulness:
1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
2 Corinthians 1:18
But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
2 Timothy 2:13
if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
1 Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
And finally, two of my personal favorites:
1 Thessalonians 5:24
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.
God is faithful; always has been, always is, and always will be. Now, let us also go out there and be faithful in both matters of God’s Kingdom as well as in our everyday routines.