Although, it is not true, it seems that certain things in life are certain. Like, after working all week and anticipating a day off to enjoy out, it seems to always rain on Saturday! Whenever you discover that you are low on cash, but did not know it, that every ATM you stop at is “off line!” As a preacher, I could count on a family argument on Saturday night or Sunday morning right before I preach!
Of course, all those examples are exaggerations, but it seems to be consistent. Consistency is a very important issue in this life. Perhaps we all have feelings like mine that exaggerate the consistency of certain things, but one item we will never exaggerate on is the people in our lives. We KNOW which ones are consistent and those that are not. Someone that is faithful to their word is very important in our lives. Here is what is more important...are we seen that way by others?
The fruit of faithfulness is a most precious production from the Spirit of God; it sets the tone of our life with God, with our family and friends and even with the world. The faithful commitment to love our enemy was the power the early Church had to turn the world upside down for Christ. For three centuries the Church wrote the gospel of Christ to the world through their blood.
What interferes with the growth of this fruit? That is what we will look at, and as we do keep these questions before you.
· What is the number one stopper to our faithfulness?
· What is the most difficult thing about being involved with people?
· If you were describing someone faithful – what words would you use?
Remember our definition: Steadfast in affection or allegiance. Let me expand on that to paint the proper picture: The Characteristic of not only starting something but also being involved all the way to the finish!
Take marriage for example – getting married is nothing, anyone can do that. However, being still together after 50 years states a lot…but even that is not enough. Many people remain together but there relationship is more like a business contract. When you get married and spend 50 years growing and experiencing life together, THAT is a marriage! It’s much more than just showing up!
Church History testifies that this has continued to be a problem for all of us. God called us to Himself and said to reach the world with His love. Many have done that, but many have been diverted. Their commitment turned to leaders:
1 Corinthians 1:11–13 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Later it became denominations that we were committed to, then movements. Where are we now? Many are faithful to Self! We have a consumer mindset, we look for what the Church will do for us and will commit only as long as it does not cramp “our lifestyle.” What’s the result? The faithful ones are few, which leads to more burn out. The Church is top heavy with those that are going along for the ride, and it is crushing the faithful at the bottom that are trying to carry that load.
This lack of faithfulness has clouded the waters of our vision for God – which in turn leaves us confused about our purpose.
In Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” when Scrooge is being confronted by the ghost of Marley about how he wasted his life in the pursuit of money, this conversation takes place:
Marley: “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing his hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forebearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Live in this world we must, but if we do not remain faithful to God and His call, we will spend all our energy on what would be “a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of our business for the King!”
We need to ask ourselves who’s kingdom are we investing our life in…Our Own?...or God’s?
None of us can control what others do, nor should we try. So let each one of us focus on ourself right now?
Why should we stay with it? Because Jesus did! Jesus was always faithful to - God the Father and the purpose for which He was called. He is our model. Let’s also count the cost. Where will the fight come from?
Things that will try and interfere with the Holy Spirit's fruit of faithfulness:
There will never be the “perfect” time, or the “perfect” moment. There will always be issues and problems in every situation we find ourselves in. We need to be faithful in spite of bad or good circumstances! GOOD? Yes, they can be the most dangerous!
Matthew 21:7-13 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat. And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!" And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" And the multitudes were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee." And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' DEN."
Here Jesus had just been praised and worshiped, why take a chance of turning the crowd against you by doing what He did in the temple? Jesus was faithful to Who God is, not the applause of men! He did not care about His popularity, He care about the truth.
Acts 5:1-5 But a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God." And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it.
The context here is clear – this couple had been moved by what they saw Barnabas do in Acts 4 when he gave such a large gift to the Lord. So they also sold their land with plans to do the same thing, but apparently the sum they received was a good one and their heart listened to the enemy. The issue was not that they did not give it all, Peter makes it clear that God had given all of it to them to manage. The issue was they pretended they were giving it all so they would look spiritual, the good circumstances led them to lie! They became faithful to their greed, instead they should have been faithful to what God had put in their heart!
The enemy will use people, even family members to try to divert your focus. We need to be faithful in spite of people, no matter who they are!
John 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.
People will kill you.
People will kill you.
I remember as a young Pastor there was a man that would constantly praise and compliment me. He even compared me to some of my favorite preachers that was so famous. By God’s grace I received all of this with appreciation, but I knew better! I was not “all that!” So I would thank him, but not become proud. Within a year, because I did not do what he wanted me to do at the Church, he became one of my greatest adversaries! Trust God, care for people, but know, like you, they have a sin nature.
Matthew 16:21-23 From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Sometimes, the people you love and count on the most can be used by the enemy. Don’t hate them, most times they do not even realize how they are tempting you to leave your commitment. Just remember to seek God’s mind on everything, no matter the counsel they give you. How many times those close to us have tried to convince us to minister in the comfort of our home and leave the impoverished country were are in. They meant well, but were ignorant that they were asking us to trade the peace we had from God for “creature” comforts. How many rich suicides prove that those comforts never satisfy!
· The Unknown
Many times we lose our commitment because we are afraid of taking the risk on something that is unknown. We need to be faithful in spite of the unknown.
Mark 14:35–36 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
Jesus knew WHAT was going to happen, but He did not know the experience of it. It was frightening and the only way He would ever know about it was to experience it. He did not allow fear to control Him.
We need to heed the counsel Jesus gave Peter. Peter was wondering about what John would do, and Jesus told him to adjust his focus:
John 21:18–22 “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
Many believers I know sense God calling them to specific things, but hesitate because they do not know everything. The unknown is compromising their faithfulness. How about you? Is there anything or anyone holding you back to being completely faithful to God?
1 Thes. 5:24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.