January 24, 2015

God honors faithfulness

A Bible college professor has a T-shirt that never fails to start conversations. On front and back are these words: “I love my wife.” Most of the comments are along the line of, “You got to be kidding.”

From Genesis 39, Joseph was not married at the time, but he qualified for such a label. He’d been sold into slavery and wound up a trusted steward in the home of a wealthy Egyptian. This man’s wife took a fancy to Joseph, but he resisted her. One day, he happened to be the only other person in the house, so she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled out of the house.

When her husband came home, she told him a lie: “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me (her words were actually more graphic). But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.” (Genesis 39:17–18) The man believed her and put Joseph in prison.

“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison . . .  and the keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.” (Genesis 39:21-23)

These days, finding faithful people like Joseph has become increasingly difficult. Not only do people ‘sleep around,’ but they steal from their employers and laugh at how much they can get away with, not caring or even realizing how much God honors faithfulness.

Joseph was the kind of person another wise man wrote about many years later: “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9–10) Again, this is rare in our ‘look out for number one’ world. Besides unfaithfulness, people seldom think of the life beyond this one.

Later still, another man demonstrated faithfulness in a different way. Jesus was sent to the Cross by His Father to die for the sins of the world. Could he refuse? An ordinary man might have, but Jesus stayed where He was and endured the shame. Those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

The chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him also, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” (Matthew 27:39–43)

Jesus faithfully did what was expected of Him and God the Father was with Him. When the women went to the tomb to care for His body, they met angels who told them, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”  Because of His faithfulness, Jesus is not only alive but gives life to all who believe in Him.

The women left the tomb, fearful and joyful at the same time. As they ran to tell His disciples, the risen Christ met them and said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:6–10)  They faithfully continued on their way, doing what the angels and Jesus told them.

Later, Jesus gave the same commandment to everyone who believes in Him, yet these faithful women obeyed it before He uttered the words! He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

God blesses those who faithfully do His will, whether it means resisting sin, obedience to His commands, sharing the good news with others, or teaching disciples to do these same things. Those who boast in their sin, rebellion, and godlessness have no idea what they are missing.

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