Sunday, October 21, 2012

Faithfulness



Once I tried to walk away from being a Christian. My trip lasted less than a few hours because the One who saved me from sin would not let go of me. 

I know that others who claim to be Christians have done it or so it appears. Even though one of them was not involved in anything most Christians do, he told me he still had assurance of eternal life. I thought that he is deceived and only thinks he is okay with God, or despite his current backsliding, God will not let him go. That is what God is like.

The Bible speaks of faithfulness and I almost laugh. We human beings must be at the bottom of the list. Only God is faithful one hundred percent. We make promises and at our best cannot perfectly keep them. We have ambitions and fail to measure up. Our own standards are too high for us, never mind the standards of God. 

Yet God’s Word says we must be faithful. As I read it, I realize more and more that this quality that we do not have in ourselves is a quality built into those who truly belong to God. Because Jesus Christ lives in us, we will be faithful. We cannot do it on our own, but in Him we cannot do anything else.

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” (Revelation 2:8–11)

This church was tested for their faith and told to remain faithful, to conquer the temptation to deny Christ. God told them to be faithful for their reward would be eternal life. If they were not faithful, they would die anyway, eventually. Persecution might not kill them but something would. If they refused to deny Christ, they might be put to death, but their reward would be eternal life.

I’ve tried to imagine myself in such a situation and used to wonder what I would do. However, I know. Those who belong to Jesus Christ will stand in all the major tests, not because we have anything in ourselves to give us that victory, but because Jesus lives in our hearts. He is our victory.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31–39)

God says, I am more than a conqueror because of Jesus. He is for me, gave Himself up for me. He graciously gives me all that I need. No one can charge me or condemn me because Jesus died for me and constantly intercedes for me. Nothing in life and nothing in death can separate me from Him or His loving care.

I will be faithful, not because I have it in me, but because He is faithful and will not let me go.

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