Faithfulness – the act of being loyal, constant, and steadfast.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words — “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country — those who have remained faithful.
Two words that mean so much to those marines who fight with all they have for our country and fellow citizens. Forever Faithful is also a fitting definition for faithfulness as we look at the walk of the follower of Jesus Christ. A walk that is promised great persecution, great pain, mixed with great blessings and a great retirement plan. On this walk we are called to fight the good fight and commissioned to go with the Gospel wherever it may take us. When my wife and I surrendered to the ministry many years ago we were very committed to go wherever the Lord sent us and tried to follow that call as God spoke to our hearts. We have had some great times and some not so great times, but in all the travel and moving, God has remained faithful to us. In calculating our travels we have been over 25,000 miles serving God from shore to shore in America with our hearts set on faithfulness to our Savior. We have been witnesses of God’s amazing grace and the change He makes in people’s lives and that has been very rewarding. We have come to realize that people are basically the same, whether in California, Missouri, Alabama, or North Carolina. The Gospel still applies to all and the working of the Holy Spirit is a powerful thing that draws men and women to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. All of this is because of God’s faithfulness and His mercy and grace. The Psalmist wrote in Chapter 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heaven’s, your faithfulness to the skies.” In Psalm 89:8 he wrote, “O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” In Psalm 14:22 he said, “Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” God is faithful!! That cannot be denied. How can faithfulness be more a part of our lives? How can we tap into the faithfulness of God and move forward in our walk in an area that is slowly deteriorating in Christians today? The great thing about God is He knows and enables us “individually” to do great things for Him. He speaks to our heart and knows what is best for us. Basically, because He knows us…..REALLY knows us. That’s kind of daunting when I think about the ways that I sin from time to time. But it’s also very encouraging to know that He loves me through that sin because of the blood of Jesus and the cancellation He put on the penalty of my sins on the cross. So, even if others do not break the mold of unfaithfulness, we can and He speaks to each of us prompting us to do so. In other words, quit drinking the KOOLAID of those who don’t preach faithfulness. Because your witness will surely shrivel up and DIE if you don’t. If you get a “burr in your saddle” and it makes you want to be different than the status quo Christian, respond to it and see what happens. First off, others will ask you what’s wrong and will question to see if you are going through some change in your life. (and you are) They will see your unhappiness with the way things are going and then proceed to make you feel like you must have some sin in your life or something. That response from them is intended to take the heat off of their lack of true commitment to the Gospel. Then if you start to doubt your feelings at all, the lukewarm temperature of the water of apathy will start to call you back into the pool to “rest a while.” Just chill! God wants us to have peace……. Well, sorry to say this but there is no peace in us when God is convicting us!! In fact, the only way we can get to this so called peace is to repent and get back on track. Oops, that wasn’t actually politically correct was it? Oh yeah, politics have nothing to do with our faith!!!
Now you see it don’t you? Faithfulness is the opposite of “Casual Christianity.” Our faithfulness is derived from a faithfulness that we can only get from God. In Romans 3:3 Paul wrote, “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” Here, I’ll give you an easy answer to that one……NO! Our faithfulness comes from our basic relationship with God through Jesus Christ. His faithfulness is mirrored through our lives as we live what He has done for us. He has been faithful and will remain faithful. Our lives, since they are found in Him, will do the same. That’s why Paul says they are a fruit of those who know God in Galatians 5:22. It’s in our Spiritual DNA to be faithful, so we have to fight unfaithfulness. As Idigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, “Let me splain.” When we become a believer and regeneration has taken place, we have the capacity, the desire, to be more like Christ. It’s not because we have become good, but it is because that which is good is in us. Christians have proven that we can deny the work of that good in us and fall back into the nature we had before we accepted Christ. That’s a no brainer and I think most of us live out of that type of faith. The only problem is, God does not want that in our lives. His Spirit has given us the capacity and the desire to be like God and follow His ways. When we learn from His Word and develop our relationship with Him, our lives begin to take on new characteristics and one of those is faithfulness. It becomes a lifestyle, not a problematic sin problem. That’s what I like to call living on the aggressive. We take that which God has put in each of us and let it grow and let it go! That’s why the soldier in the opening story gave a Semper Fi, even though he was on the verge of death. It was more about the life of those fighting than his life or death. He was committed to the cause at all costs. That is faithfulness.
Are you committed to the cause? Are you willing to say no when all around you say yes to living a status quo life in the faith? Then you have found out how to tap into that heart of faithfulness that God has put in each of those who know Christ and you are on your way. If you haven’t, then you need to access that part of the Lord through the Holy Spirit and get back on His track so you can truly be going somewhere.
Faithfulness is a must for each of us and it begins when we totally commit our lives to the cause of Christ. It’s worth it and it’s needed. In the balance of your life are you faithful?
The Pilgrimage continues…