"...a faithful man, who can find?"
Papaw used to say, "A man's word is his bond."
There was a time when a handshake was as morally binding as a signature.
These days, faithfulness is a rare find.
Marriage vows are deemed disposable.
Promises are regarded as not necessary to keep,
or they are spoken with contingency intentions.
"I'll keep my end of the bargain as long as he keeps his."
"I'll be true to her as long as she doesn't give me a reason not to."
What ever happened to keeping promises like,
"If I say I'll be there at ten o'clock, I'll be there."
"If I can't be there, I'll call."
Faithfulness takes effort.
It is going to require some self-denial,
perseverance, and determination.
When did denying ourselves for the sake
of another person's good become so difficult?
Why is it so hard to do whatever it takes to be true to our word?
The 15th chapter of Psalms describes the attributes of a true Christian.
Verse 4 lists
"He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not"
as one of those characteristics.
In other words, even it if is hard,
even if it puts one out,
even if it is inconvenient,
once one's word has been given...
once a promise has been made...
if at all possible, it is honored and not changed....
no matter the cost.
How many promises has God heard spoken in times of anguish?
"Lord, if You'll heal my body...
if You'll just give me more time...
I promise I'll serve You every day I'm given....
with all my heart."
"God, if You let my little girl live...
if You'll just let the tests come back benign....
I promise I'll start taking her to church...
and I'll pray with her every day."
if You'll just restore my marriage...
I promise I'll stop the abuse."
"God, if You'll just let me marry so-and-so,
I promise You we'll have a Christian home....
we'll put You first, Lord, I promise."
How many vows have been made from fox-holes,
Emergency Room waiting rooms,
cancer treatment centers,
and from piles of mangled metal and shattered glass?
God has heard it all.
How many of those promises....wrenched from hurting hearts,
were faithfully kept?
How many of those vows have actually been paid?
Psalm 50:14 instructs us to pay our vows unto the Most High.
I don't suppose there is any possible way of calculating the statistics
on how many promises made to God have actually been kept.
But, I say with absolute certainty that God heard every muffled cry.
He saw each falling tear.
He weighed the sincerity of every anguished prayer.
He knew the outcome...
before the prayer was prayed.
He knew what would happen....
should He grant the desired request.
I'd venture to say that even when He looked down the road
and realized the heart-wrenched promises would turn into nothing more than idle words...
would so quickly be forgotten...
the minute life resumed to normal...
our merciful Heavenly Father granted the request....
more often than not.
That is just how God is.
Because God is love.
2 Peter 3:9 says God
"is longsuffering to us-ward,
not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
He gives undeserved 2nd chances, and 3rd, and 4th, etc.
He gives time and space to repent...
to make U-turns...
to turn around.
God is a faithful God.
"Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God,
which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him
and keep His commandments to a thousand generations."
He keeps to His word...always.
"...there hath not failed one word of all His good promise,
which He promised..."
I Kings 8:56
You never have to wonder if He'll grow tired of His commitment.
It is settled and decided....
that He will be faithful....
forever and ever....
as long as time lasts....
no matter what we decide to do.
His faithfulness is not contingent on ours.
Aren't you glad?
I sure am.
"For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in Heaven.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations..."
You can count on what God will do,
based on the track record of what He has already done.
It is impeccable....
God means what He says,
and says what He means.
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise..."
2 Peter 3:9
If only we were the same.
In order to make Heaven one day,
you and I will have to remain faithful to the vows we have made to God.
"....be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life."
Will it cost us something to be faithful?
Sure it will.
The road of faithfulness isn't always an easy one.
Sometimes, we will be misunderstood,
and spoken against.
Often we will grow tired...
of doing the right thing...
of taking the path of most resistance...
of keeping our promises....
of paying our vows.
But, the crown of life is at the end...
of faithfulness road.
In order to seize the prize,
we must be faithful unto death.
It is an individual race.
I don't get a free pass because my Mom was faithful to her dying day.
I won't slide through the gates because Dad faithfully ran his race and received his crown.
God won't cut me any slack because Papaw & Mimi lived
faithful, true, Godly lives and died with victory.
It it up to me....
to live a faithful life...
to keep my promises to God and my husband,
to pay every vow I've made.
I'll never forget Mom's words to me the night we sat in her living room
waiting for the ambulance to take her to the ER.
"I want you to pray for me that I will have grace for the crossing.
I want you to keep encouraged.
Stay in the faith."
By God's grace,
and I will.
It won't be easy.
Who said it would be?
But, I am so glad Jesus said,
"With God all things are possible."
He did it.
By His grace, we can, too.