Everybody loves it when days are favorable—when pockets or bank accounts are filled with money, the wife and kids are happy and healthy, promotions at work keep pouring in, the environment is warm and encouraging, everything is going the way we planned, and it seems like nothing will ever go wrong. We thank God for His goodness and His generosity; we serve Him with all our hearts. Who wouldn’t love serving God when He has blessed everything you have? But what about when days are hostile and discouraging—when piled-up bills heavily challenge your financial status, you’re barely making it through the week worrying about what to bring to the table, or a family crisis erupts and takes the life out of you? What about when death happens to the ones you love the most? What about when things won’t go the way you want them to? Will you still serve God with all your heart? Will you still love Him in the middle of the storm? Will you still worship and declare His goodness when life is trying to pound you down into the ground?
You see, the seventh fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness, is only seen in its truest form when the tests come. This is what distinguishes those who are really willing to take up their cross and follow Christ. Know that the moment we truly confessed that Jesus is Lord and embraced everything about Him and His commandments, Satan vowed never to wait on us and watch us succeed in our pursuit of the eternal. The Bible says that the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:), and he is also like a thief that comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.). As long as we are still living on earth, Satan and his cohorts will always challenge our faithfulness to God. When the enemy strikes with all his might, will we remain faithful at the end of the day?
Consider the story of Job, a man who feared God and stayed away from evil (Job 1:1-5). He had a great family, and he was prosperous. God was even proud of this man and saw him as a man like no other on earth (Job 1:8). But all that was tested twice when Satan challenged God to allow him to try Job’s faithfulness. Job lost his properties, his servant, and his children successively in just one day (Job 1:13-19). But with all that, he remained steadfast in his faithfulness to God and still ended up praising God (Job 1:20-22). Satan asked for another round, and this time Job himself was afflicted with terrible boils from head to foot (Job 2:6-8). On top of that, his wife questioned his faith in God and told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). After all that, Job still held onto his faith in God, and his following words are key to our contemplation when our faith in God is heavily tested: “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. KJV)
We have seen faithful Christian couples challenged when their son, who was about to be born, died due to medical problems. Having laid low in his ministry and needing months to recover from the grief, it was amazing how the husband responded. Every time he was given the opportunity to preach, he would say that what happened made him somehow relate with the pain of the Father when His one and only Son died upon the cross for us, and it made him appreciate even more God’s sacrifice for us. In doing so, he allowed his painful experience to encourage him to honor God and remain faithful.
And there is also this situation of several pastors in a city that used to be hostile to Christianity. These pastors were listed in an assassination list and gradually most of them were killed, even while preaching in the church. While a lot of Christians fled away from the city and some of the pastors were advised to transfer, there was one memorable pastor who bought his own grave in the cemetery. He declared that he would remain and continue serving God even if it cost him his life. Such faithfulness to God’s calling in the face of certain death! Thank God for those pastors because that city became very open to Christianity, which you find to this day in the many churches thriving there.
Those are just a few of the stories of Christian faithfulness. These people knew God closely and were willing to stay faithful to Him even if the world should throw everything at them. But such faithfulness is supernatural, and apart from the Spirit; probably, few would persevere. God has always been the initiator of our faith. Man does not and will not initiate faith unless God demonstrates His generous character first. Like Jesus’ disciples, for instance—despite their close relationship with Christ, they abandoned Him when he was arrested and when the situation became life-threatening. Even Peter, one of His closest disciples, denied Him three times. Those people who hailed Him as king on Palm Sunday turned on Him and shouted, “Crucify him!” But after Jesus rose from the grave, showed himself to the disciples, and even reinstated Peter, they were willing to suffer and die for Him. Indeed, most of them, including Paul, suffered and died for their faithfulness in Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers us to persevere throughout our trials and bear the fruit of faithfulness toward God and even toward other people. God is faithful that even in trials or temptations He will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can bear. And even when we are struggling, He will also provide a way out so that we can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The greatest reason that we can exhibit faithfulness is that God showed His faithfulness first and does so despite our unfaithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13). Even in our sinfulness, He is faithful and just, and He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Jesus did not just demonstrate faithfulness toward man, but He also modeled for us faithfulness toward God (Hebrews 3:2). Even in our battle against the evil one, the Lord is faithful to strengthen us and protect us (2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.). Finally, our confidence in putting everything on the line to stay faithful to God is that He always keeps His promises.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;).”
(Hebrews 10:23 KJV)