Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Biblical Virtue of Faithfulness

(Here is an excerpt from Evangelist Paul Mershon's Revival Thoughts 9/25/07 issue received today in my mailbox.)

“O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful . . .” (Psalm 31:23)

“Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.” (Psalm 101:6)

“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6)

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings . . .” (Proverbs 28:20)

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much . . ” (Luke 16:10)

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2)

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (I Timothy 1:12)

“And the things that thou hast heard among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2)

“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.” (Proverbs 25:19)

There was a time in America, especially in our churches, when faithfulness was a highly esteemed virtue considered a distinct measure of one’s character. A person was considered faithful when he or she demonstrated a deep and sincere stability, dependability, loyalty, dedication, and trustworthiness. Folks were generally good for their word. Many a business deal was sealed with nothing more than a handshake. No written contracts, no high-powered corporate attorneys, and little doubt that every one involved would do exactly what they said they were going to do. There was a high level of integrity and ethical conduct.

That faithfulness is no longer the highly esteemed attribute once viewed as very important and dear to a responsible society is apparent in a high divorce rate, a cavalier attitude towards infidelity, disloyal and rebellious attitudes towards employers, irresponsible financial dealings, ignoring and breaking of contractual agreements, fair-weather-friend relationships, job-hopping, church-hopping, and myriad other indications of a society gone bad. Commitments often run only as deep as “what’s in it for me.” The expectation is that everyone else must be faithful to the “me” in the “what’s in it for me” type person, but that person does not hold himself to the same standard when it comes to his level of faithfulness to others.

A direct byproduct of faithfulness is submission to the Word and will of the Lord. With submission comes a deep sense of responsibility. Most men will not be faithful to that to which they are not wholly invested. There will be very little of their time, talent, treasure, or of their lives in general invested in that to which they are not truly consecrated.

Faithfulness may well be a response to the love of another. When one knows that he or she is deeply loved by another, faithfulness seems to come easily. In Luke chapter 7 the story of the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and the hairs of her head, anointing His feet with ointment, demonstrated a wonderful faithfulness to the One Who had been so faithful to her in so much and in so many blessed and wonderful ways. Of her Jesus said, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Her faithfulness and love for the Lord Jesus was driven by her deep sense of gratitude for the One Who loved her so much and gave Himself for her. She loved much because she was forgiven of much, and knew it. Those who forget the great sin debt that was paid for them will always have a diminished level of faithfulness to the Lord and His Word.

Faithfulness is a characteristic of many things, not the least of which is spiritual maturity. Integrity and steadfastness are certainly attributes of faithfulness, but I believe that spiritual maturity that generates faithfulness is the outstanding character trait of a surrendered born-again believer. Professing Christians saved for several years who are not faithful in basic areas of obedience, practice and conduct, such as faithful church attendance, tithing, witnessing, visitation, and serving wherever God can use them, prove by their lack of faithfulness in these things spiritual immaturity and/or serious insincerity and indifference.

Not too many years ago many Bible-believing churches recognized those who had been faithful in unbroken Sunday School attendance by awarding them a lapel pin indicating the period of time for which they had been faithful. It was not uncommon to see a brother or sister receive an award for 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years of faithful attendance and service to the Lord. I can remember hearing of an elderly man who was recognized for 50 years of faithful Sunday School and church attendance. These dear folks took their obligations and responsibilities to their local church very seriously. They were faithful because they were consecrated and surrendered to the will of the Lord for their lives. Some of God’s people are often passing up the House of God, and forsaking their Christian responsibilities for reasons that are wrong and without merit. God is ever and always faithful to His children (Lamentations 3:22-23), but there are those who find it difficult or unimportant to be faithful to Him, even in the basic things that ought to be important to the child of God.

Dear friends, faithful church attendance is just basic to biblical Christianity. I do not understand why any truly converted child of God would not want to be in God's House with the saints of God praising and worshipping Him. It just does not make sense. There are many reasons for why folks miss church, but many, if not most, of those reasons are invalid. One can understand missing church services when ill, shut-in, infirm or otherwise incapable of gathering with the saints. But there is an increasing number of folks missing church because they are not faithful, and that by choice. A backslidden believer will find it easy to be unfaithful. The cold, indifferent, apathetic. spiritually lethargic believer will find it easy to be unfaithful. Unfaithfulness to the God and His Word will always equate to being unfaithful to God's House. A great indication of a spiritually mature church is faithful attendance on the part of all of the members for each and every service, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Remember, the message you miss may well be the message you need! And besides the message, we all need the fellowship of the saints.

Beloved, you and your family need to be faithful to the church of which you are a part. You need to be there faithfully. The local church is God’s plan for the instruction, edification, and encouragement of the saints. When you are not there you are not in your place. You discourage other brethren, and put your family in harm’s way. You are jeopardizing your spiritual welfare, and send all of the wrong messages to your children. When you pass up the church house for no good biblical reason, you tell your little ones that it is okay to give God second place in your life. It is a testimony of disobedience.

Beloved, let’s take the responsibilities of our church membership more seriously. Plan your week in such a way that being in the House of the Lord is a priority. You need to be in church! Your family needs to be in church! Your brothers and sisters in the Lord need your fellowship in and through the local church. God requires you to be in His house. Let’s not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:24-25).

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Blogger Bro Tim said...

Bro Jim thanks for sharing. So very true how we need to be in the house of God, and even though I haven't been Pastoring but a couple of weeks this is something that i have been mentioning to our people. We need to be there because of Lord, but brothers and sister is Christ need us there also.

Bro Tim

7:10 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Bro. Tim,

I pray your first few weeks there at your new church have been blessed by God. I'll be praying for you as you adjust to the new location and new ministry opportunity.

9:14 PM  

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