By Ronny Milliner
The problem of unfaithfulness to the Lord has apparently been around for a long time. David began the twelfth psalm by saying, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men” (Psa. 12:1). Many centuries ago the wise man was asking, “But who can find a faithful man?” (Prov. 20:6b) Today the problem of unfaithfulness is found in nearly every congregation of God’s people.
Surely we all know that God requires faithfulness of us. Paul states the principle in 1 Corinthians 4:2 when he wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” And how many times have we been reminded of the words of our Savior as recorded by John in Revelation 2:10b, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life”?
And surely we know what faithfulness is? We have no problem determining faithfulness in every day life. A car that only starts one out of three times is not a faithful car. A newspaper boy that delivers your paper three days out of the week is not very faithful. An employee that shows up late for work or slacks on the job is not a faithful employee. A refrigerator that made ice one week and then skipped two or three weeks before working again would not be considered faithful refrigerator. No, our problem is not with misunderstanding of the meaning of faithfulness.
To impress us with the importance of faithfulness we could notice some of the various expressions which are used to encourage us to faithfulness. When Jesus spoke of enduring “to the end” in Matthew 10:22 he was talking about faithfulness. When he declared in John 8:31, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” he was showing the necessity of faithfulness. When it is recorded that Barnabas encouraged the brethren to “continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23), he was encouraging them to faithfulness. The same is also true when some were encouraged “to continue in the grace of God” in Acts 13:43 and “to continue in the faith” in Acts 14:22. When Paul wrote in Romans 2:67 about “those who by patient continuance in doing good,” he was speaking of faithfulness. When he exhorted the Corinthians to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58), he was exhorting them to faithfulness. To “stand fast in the faith” (1 Cor. 16:13) and to “not grow weary while doing good” (Gal. 6:9) are other expressions which refer to faithfulness. The Hebrew writer speaks of holding “the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14) and holding “fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). In doing so he simply was speaking of faithfulness. When James says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation” (Jas. 1: 12), he was speaking of the blessedness of faithfulness. Peter’s urging you to be “more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10) is an exhortation to faithfulness. Every time Jesus speaks of “him who overcomes” in the seven letters to the churches of Asia (Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21) he is speaking of faithfulness.
We could also talk about the different areas in which faithfulness is needed. Yet most of us are aware that we need to be faithful in our praying, studying the Bible, worshiping together, contributing, teaching others the gospel, restoring the erring, setting priorities, doing good, etc. Most of us have heard sermon after sermon on these topics and are as familiar with the Bible passages on these items as the preacher is. Yet unfaithfulness abounds.
Therefore I would like to direct your thoughts in a different direction. I want you to think about who is hurt by your unfaithfulness. Yes, your unfaithfulness is hurting several people.
Of course, it should be obvious that your unfaithfulness is hurting yourself. Jesus warned in Luke 19:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” In Matthew 24:45-51 Jesus shows that upon the master’s return the unfaithful servant is cut “in two” and appointed a “portion with the hypocrites” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Not only will you be in misery in eternity, but your life here will not be pleasant as well. Peter wrote, “For he who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking guile; Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:10-11). There are a lot of Christians who have just enough religion to make them miserable.
Yet you may not care about yourself, so consider others who are hurt by your unfaithfulness.
Paul had a great interest in his brethren. In 2 Corinthians 11:28 he spoke of his “deep concern for all the churches.” True Christians have an interest in their fellow brethren. Your unfaithfulness causes grief and discouragement to the saved.
My wife and I had a couple of close friends who were a great encouragement to us in the work of the gospel. When times were rough these two Christians were always there to give a pat on the back. The woman was one of the best writers of Bible stories for children that I have ever seen. Now they have I become unfaithful to the Lord. It brings tears to our eyes to think of them in their present condition. Yes, your unfaithfulness hurts other Christians.
Another way that your unfaithfulness may hurt other Christians is by your actions causing unbelievers to blaspheme the church because of your hypocrisy. We must be careful about our influence “so that the name of God and his doctrine may not be blasphemed” (1 Tim. 6:1). Many have been the times when talking to others about their souls that these individuals have criticized the whole church just because of some who were unfaithful in it.
Your unfaithfulness also brings grief to those shepherds of the flock of God. The Hebrew writer commanded, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).
Special Loved Ones
Think of the grief you cause your parents or children, husband or wife, etc. because they know if you were to die in this unfaithful state that there would be no hope. Paul did not want the Thessalonians to be “as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). I have seen parents have to bury a son who had become unfaithful to the Lord and had even taken his own life. Such is not a pleasant experience.
Job was concerned about the spiritual well being of his children. The Bible says, “Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all” (Job 1:4-5). It’s very unlikely that your children will turn out to be faithful after observing your example of unfaithfulness. The couple of which
I spoke before have three beautiful children. The boy, as is often the case with youngsters, decided he wanted to imitate me and be a preacher of the gospel. Of course I encouraged him as I had the opportunity. But now the chances of that happening are very slim. The chances of these three precious souls becoming Christians grow dimmer as their parents’ example of unfaithfulness is held before them day after day.
Brethren, those of you who are unfaithful, listen to me. It will not matter what the preacher says in way of trying to comfort your family if you die in a state of unfaithfulness. You will be responsible for the heartache they experience at that time.
Your unfaithfulness can also be a cause of stumbling for some weak brother or new convert. Jesus warned in Matthew 18:6-7, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offenses comes!” Paul said we need to resolve “not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13) and to “give no offense, either to Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32-33).
Instead of being a source of discouragement and an influence for evil, why not “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16)?
One’s unfaithfulness can be the cause of others blaspheming God. This truth certainly can be seen in the example of the Jews. Because of their failure to practice what they preached Paul wrote, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Rom. 2:21-24).
Ezekiel declared that God has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from this way and live” (Ezek. 33:11). God desires your salvation, not your damnation (2 Pet. 3:9).
When Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and pondered the lost condition of the multitude of souls within it, tears came to his eyes (Lk. 19:41). As the Savior observes your life, is He smiling or crying?
Dear brother, the end of it all will either be either eternal reward or eternal punishment (Rev. 21:7-8). Do you not want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt. 25:21)?
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 21, pp. 658-659
November 5, 1987