Faithfulness

I was listening to Christian talk radio in my vehicle this afternoon. This is not something I normally do, but I landed on this station and stayed. The topic was evangelism and the speaker was talking about how some of us tend to rate ourselves as good Christians based on how successful we are at converting others to Christ. He made the point that it's unbiblical thinking to measure ourselves this way.

He said: "God does not call us to success; He calls us to faithfulness. There's a difference." He emphasized that it is the Holy Spirit's job to convert the heart. We are simply called to be faithful witnesses. We are equally faithful whether or not we "win" someone or fail to convince them of their need for Christ.

It got me thinking about other areas of my life where I think in terms of success and failure rather than simply being faithful. There will be many successes and failures in all of our daily lives. Rating ourselves on every up and down, success and failure, will keep us on a spiritual and emotional rollercoaster. Focusing on our failures leads to despair. Focusing on our successes, unfortunately, so often leads to self-righteousness. Success and failure focuses us on our performance, which will always fall short; while faithfulness is a reflection of our heart and our priorities.

Faithful is defined by some of the following words:

~Steadfast in affection or allegiance : loyal
~Firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty : conscientious
~Given with strong assurance : binding (a faithful promise)
~True to the facts, to a standard, or to an original (a faithful copy)

Synonyms faithful, loyal, constant, staunch, steadfast, resolute mean firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance. Faithful implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted (faithful to her promise). Loyal implies a firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray (remained loyal to the czar). Constant stresses continuing firmness of emotional attachment without necessarily implying strict obedience to promises or vows (constant friends). Staunch suggests fortitude and resolution in adherence and imperviousness to influences that would weaken it (a staunch defender of free speech). Steadfast implies a steady and unwavering course in love, allegiance, or conviction (steadfast in their support). Resolute implies firm determination to adhere to a cause or purpose (a resolute ally).

Our pastor began the New Year with a sermon series entitled "UNWAVERING" and he made this statement: "Unwavering is a future decision." We have to determine in our hearts ahead of time to be unwavering and faithful. There will be stumbles and setbacks. But being faithful is about our heart, our allegiance, our loyalty; being steadfast and committed even in the face of a failure. The perfect example is marriage. One can be a very imperfect, flawed spouse and still be resolute and unwavering in love, allegiance, loyalty and faithfulness.

Today's talk radio, as well as my pastor's statement ("Unwavering is a future decision."), made me think about a Tim Keller sermon I have listened to many times on Covenant Relationships. In this sermon, Keller talks about marriage vows. He addresses the position so many people take these days about staying in a marriage only as long as the feelings of love remain. And he says (paraphased): But there is nothing about one's feelings in the marriage vows. If you pay attention to them, you will quickly realize that marriage vows are future promises of commitment, devotion and acts of love...in sickness, in poverty, in adversity as well as in the good times.

I don't want to waver in my faithfulness to God because of things I don't understand, circumstances or people that disappoint me . . . or even because I disappoint myself.

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