This is going to sound like a threat.
I write this knowing that some may read this and just stop. You won’t finish this post.
“Someday all Christians will stand before Jesus Christ to give an account of the works they have done since conversion. We will be judged not on the basis of how successful we were in the eyes of the world, but on how faithful we were in the place God put us…faithfulness will be the basis on which God renders judgement” [Billy Graham*, 272].
Get right with faithfulness or be damned…
Quite a threat [that is the way some may read these words].
Of all the fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness may be the most vague fruit. What does faithfulness mean? What do I have to do to be faithful? How can I face Jesus and get a positive evaluation based on this concept “faithfulness”?
Here are some answers.
First of all, the reason faithfulness is a “vague” fruit is it is based on our being faithful. Other fruit of the Spirit may have some outward quality that people can point to but faithfulness is an inner quality. Paul writes of the inward quality of faithfulness in Philippians 2:13 and 1:6 “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” And “He who began a work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Faithfulness is a concentration on being what we can be on the inside, with the idea if you are right with God on the inside, you will be able to produce more fruit on the outside.
Some may question what fruit? I am weak of body or weak in spirit. I don’t have what it takes to evangelize like Pastor Graham. What can I do? I can’t do God’s work. I can’t bring people to Christ. It is not about quantity; it is about quality. God knows your situation and knows what you are capable of. For example, I have a friend who is totally blind. Some would look at his life and say, he can do very little…poor man. Truly if you make a list of all the things he cannot do, the list would be long.
But he can pray.
He is a faithful intercessor at our church’s Tuesday prayer group. He prays.
He never complains about what he cannot do. He just does what he can do. God gives all of us talents that we can use to further His kingdom. We either are too busy to use them, or we downplay them or we refuse to use them. Faithfulness in our Christian walk is what we do with our talents. In Matthew 25:21 we find the story of the men who are in charge of “talents” and it says if “you are faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” Graham writes “Morality is not so much a matter of magnitude, but of quality. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, in small things as well as in big things” . Do what you can do to further God’s kingdom; we can all be more faithful.
We all get frustrated from time to time as we grow at a much slower rate than we wish we could. God sent His son Jesus to show us how to live a Christian life, and as a professed Christian we are supposed to become as Christ like as we can be. Faithful obedience can be a very slow process as we wait for the Holy Spirit to remove any “vile habit or developing infection” that our sinful nature inflicts on us. We should be patient and faithful, because waiting to become like Jesus is worth it, even though mature Christians know that we can’t achieve Christlikeness in our own power and no one can claim perfection in this life anyway. Running the race is worth it; it is a race fueled by faithfulness and when we stand with God in eternity, we know we will be glorified with Him anyhow. All we have to do is say “yes” when the Holy Spirit says act.
Lack of faithfulness is actually a sign of spiritual immaturity. Graham uses an industrial expression to explain how we are supposed to react to God’s calling. You may have heard of “turn-around time.” That refers to the time that elapses between the order and the filling of that order. Many Christians will regret one day the time lag between the point when God showed them His plan for them and their ability to take action. We must take responsibility for the label Christian. Some of us want all the privileges of the label but none of the work. When we are disobedient and refuse to accept the responsibility of being Christian, we are unfaithful.
Being faithful means accepting responsibility; it is a sign that we are spiritually mature and Pastor Graham calls it “one of the most important fruits the Spirit brings to our lives” .
Some Christians think about their judgement day and see the threat. I am not good enough. I am sure I am going to be eternally damned. Others see their judgement day in very different light. My life is my race and I [like Apostle Paul] want to fight the good fight and finish my race.
For “there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day.”*
From his book The Holy Spirit
From 2 Timothy 4:7, 8