May 10, 2017

What "Living Faithfully" is and is not.


So we talked about Faith this last week in Church and looked at the Biblical expectation that Jesus lays out.  When Jesus commends someone for faith, or chides them for lack of faith, what is He meaning?  Because what HE means is what He has always meant and what He still means.  That's what we need to be concerned about.

If you want to listen to that simple, short, sermon, click here.

But I want to expand that question and ask, "What then does it mean to live faithfully?"  I know a great many successful and wealthy people who are church elders and christian leaders.  They seem to equate their business and financial position with their spiritual status, call to leadership, and their faithfulness.  I know well intentioned men and women leading others to Judgement because they hear great teaching from the Bible, but can't see how to apply it to real life with Biblical discernment.  They are simply creating their own little kingdoms, not God's.

Likewise, I know a great many people who live in poverty or in great physical or emotional hardship.  People recognize their good nature and positive attitude despite their circumstances and wonder at how "faithful" they are.  Many are faithful, but not because of their attitude and temperament.

What about everybody who falls in between?  How do the rest of us measure faithfulness.  Do we take the appropriate parts from each end of the spectrum and put it into our own category?

If faith is simply trusting God at what He has said, then what does it have to do with position, affluence, or circumstance?  Isn't the answer obvious?

I know how He wants me to talk and how He doesn't want me to talk.  I know what kind of talk He wants me to partake in and what He wants me to avoid.  I know how I am supposed to think about things and what type of thinking I am supposed to "put to death" in my mind and heart.  I know that He blesses me with resources and finances and vision, but I also know what purpose those resources and visions serve, so I know how to prioritize them and when they are allowed to take prominence over other areas of life, and if they are transferable to others.  I know that he has allowed all things in Christ, yet He has given me and others freedom to choose our own standards of health and practice in certain things according to our conscience as it is surrendered to His Word.  But only if our conscience is being governed by His Word.

I know when and where these things are being governed by discernment, and when , in my greed and selfishness, I am making excuses for poor choices or self-righteousness that have nothing to do with His actual given counsel.  But I only know this if I actually know His Word.

Faithful living is exercising trust in His Word as it applies to all areas of life.  It is not trusting in my rationalizations concerning His Words because of modernity and the compounded difficulties of my other life choices.

But, here's the thing.  There's no list.  There's no comprehensive, "do -don't do" method to living faithfully.  You have to become acquainted with God's Word in order to be able to see how it can apply to all of life and how it impacts all of life.  You have to abide in it and see it come together as you grow in maturity in it.

If you are someone who knows a few verses of scripture and think you are a faithful person because you don't do evil things and you DO do other things, like read the bible occasionally and attend church, I want to suggest to you that you don't get it.  You aren't living according to faith.  You're living according to your own standards and opinions - and you have made God's grace out to be a reason for you not to have to surrender any more than you want to.

Don't judge faithfulness by worldly fruit.

If you want to know you are faithful, live faithfully.

If you want to be recognized as a child of God, figure out what your Father has told you and trust that it is sufficient to accomplish and provide everything you need.  Don't try other stuff first, or after you deem it "time to try something else".  Joseph was in prison for 19-20 years.  Job suffered a lot longer than a few days.  Jesus endured more than three temptations over the course of a few minutes in the desert.  Faithfulness endures.  And it helps us to encourage and guide others the right way.  

The only thing that will matter in the end is if we can say we lived faithfully - NOT SIMPLY THAT WE BELIEVED IN JESUS!  The Bible is very clear (repetitively) that true faithfulness produces fruit "in accordance with His Word" and changes the "living" as well as the "liver".  That will be the authenticating mark that separates genuine faith from intellectual assent.

With you for His glory,