A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 28:20 NKJV)
Faithfulness. It’s something many people struggle with. Maybe not in their marriage, work, or finances, but in their spiritual life.
Now don’t turn me off or quit reading. And preacher reading this, don’t be so quick to agree with me, thinking I’m writing about those who are hit and miss where church attendance is concerned.
Lately I’ve been doing some thinking about my place in the Body of Christ. Where do I fit? What am I supposed to do? Am I bearing fruit? Is the Lord pleased? You know, questions like that.
I mean, I understand the parable of the talents and how it’s so important to make the most out of what God endows us with. He gifts each person with various abilities and ministry grace. Whether they use them or not is up to them.
How I should be using my gifts has been capturing my prayer time, and my thoughts throughout the day.
The Lord was very clear in the above scripture. Faithfulness begets an abundance of blessings.
But the rest of the verse doesn’t say anything about unfaithfulness, or does it? What’s he mean, “but he who hastens to be rich…”?
Maybe we should consider the meaning of faithfulness.
Faithfulness entails much more than church attendance, serving in various capacities at church, and whether or not we pray and read our Bible every day. Faithfulness has everything to do with relationships, with God or with people, depending on the context of discussion.
Faithfulness specifically is about dependability. Is a person dependable? If so, they are most likely faithful.
Let’s take the question, “Is the person faithful to God?” After all, this is the one I’ve been asking myself. Sure, I can list a number of things I’ve done through the years that ought to look good to God. I’ve certainly done better at this Christian thing than some others I’ve known. Yes, I’ve done my share of bad stuff, things that look terrible on my list. But all in all, I have a fairly good record.
But I have a strong feeling that’s not how the scoring is tallied, if indeed there is scoring at all.
No, I believe the writer of Proverbs was thinking of something a bit different. So I’ll try to explain.
Doing the right things, saying the right words, and being at the right place aren’t necessarily the attributes of a faithful man. Of course, people see someone who does all those things and they’d all agree, “There goes a faithful man.”
But what about the part of a person’s life that isn’t seen by anyone but God? For instance, I’ve found myself comparing my life with other preachers, authors, and musicians; things I have done, wanted to do, or would still like to do. I look at how many “likes” and “shares” my social media posts get, and compare them with others doing similar ministry. I browse my Amazon account periodically to see how many books people have purchased or downloaded for free. And I find myself being discouraged that my “ministry” isn’t as popular as I feel it should be.
Can any of you identify with me?
So I asked the Lord about it all. I didn’t whine to Him, but I did kind of want to know why people aren’t knocking down my “ministry door” like they did the apostles Peter and Paul.
Want to hear what He said?
You probably guessed it.
In essence, His word was, “I’ve only called you to be faithful with all I’ve given you. The size of ministry is not an indication of whether ministry is good or bad.”
He reminded me of some pastor friends of mine. They serve a small, rural community. They’ve done so for over twenty years. Probably not much opportunity for a packed house or large offerings.
But they are where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
God calls them faithful.
And God is calling me, and I dare say you as well, to a life of faithfulness. I don’t have to be the best, have the biggest following, or say the wittiest and wisest words. I don’t have to become a household name, as long as I’m faithfully lifting up the Name above all names.
Trying to raise up “my” ministry comes under the heading of “he who hastens to be rich”. Of course it’s okay to want to reach more people with a life giving message. Of course the Lord wants us all to seek and save the lost.
But ulterior motives, the ones we know are lurking just under the surface, can be easily hidden when we’re dishonest with ourselves. Having to be the best, have the best, and always look the best isn’t always the best in God’s eyes. Especially if our heart is more concerned about the image we portray to man than how our heart looks to God.
Please, my intention here isn’t to point fingers at anyone but myself. I’ve found myself “needing” to do this, that, and everything else because other preachers, authors, and musicians seem to be getting ahead by doing those specific things.
That may be perfectly fine for them. It’s not for me to say. It’s between them and God.
All He’s calling me to do is be faithful.
He’ll take care of the rest.
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to Me. (Psalm 101:6 ESV)