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“God is faithful.” This is a nice sounding phrase, but it’s really an incomplete thought. When we talk about God’s faithfulness, we are usually referring to some very specific behaviors. “God is faithful to give me what I want in this earthly life,” is what many Christians really mean when they go around exalting the faithfulness of God. Others mean “If I keep nagging God long enough, He will faithfully breakdown and give me what I want.” Still others mean “God will be faithful to interpret the Bible the same way I do, and thus keep every promise that I think I find in it.” Well, no, these definitions are wrong. As long as we’re focusing on our human agendas and priorities, we’re not going to get a correct understanding of God’s faithfulness. God does what God wants to do, and God has His own agenda for you.
When God says He is faithful to you, He means that you can count on Him to do what He knows is best for you. The problem is that you and God have very different opinions about what is best for you. You want God to give you a happy, comfortable life. God wants you to develop a deeper relationship with Him, and these two agendas often oppose each other. In order to strengthen your bond with Him and teach you how to feel secure with a nonhuman Being as complex as Himself, God needs to put you through a certain amount of misery on this earth. When you’re in the midst of that misery, you’re not going to feel like God is being faithful to you, because you will still be defining God’s faithfulness in terms of actions which seem positive and beneficial to your human logic.
In order to develop trust in God’s faithfulness, you need to be willing to change your definitions. God will never change to align with us, but He will help us change to align with Him. Once we start using God’s definition of faithfulness, a whole new world of soul freedom and peace is unlocked for us. When bad things happen to those you love, instead of panicking and feeling like the universe is spinning out of control, you find that your confidence in God’s goodness remains unshaken and the circumstances just don’t upset you as much as they used to. Becoming aligned with God’s Divine perspective is like having a blindfold removed and suddenly being able to see things as they actually are. Instead of seeing a world filled with pointless misery and rampant evil, you see a very good plan which is being brilliantly executed by a God who is always in complete control. Understanding how faithful God is to us drains the fear out of our lives and fills us with a wonderful sense of tranquility.
Being faithful to the works of His hands is one of God’s core characteristics. To ask “Is God faithful?” is like asking “Do humans breathe?” Of course God is faithful—He is as faithful as He is good, compassionate, loving, generous, and kind. God’s faithfulness to us is something we can trust in with all of our souls. His faithfulness will never fail us, but how much we will benefit from His faithfulness is up to us. God is only faithful to do what He knows is best for us. If we keep rejecting His best plan for our lives, then we will quickly grow to hate His faithfulness. How many Christians hate the feeling of being convicted? How many Christians are working hard to tune out the Voice of the Holy Spirit? For these souls, God’s faithfulness to them isn’t doing them much good. It’s only when we’re living in submission to God that we experience His faithfulness to be a wonderfully reassuring thing. When we choose the path of rebellion, we end up discovering that we are not the only ones God is faithful to. He is faithful to Himself first.
God has a set of personal standards which He is devoted to upholding. For example:
- All rebellion will be punished.
- All submission will be rewarded.
- Intimate communion with God will not be given to any creature who fails to cherish Him.
- The Creator is infinitely more important than the created.
God always comes first. This means that He will be faithful to Himself before He is faithful to you. When you dig your little heels in and refuse to submit to God, He will respond with discipline. At first, disciplining you satisfies both His personal standards as well as His dedication to doing what is best for you. But if you persist in rebelling against Him for too long, then His dedication to Himself will override His dedication to you. He will continue to uphold His personal standards by withholding any further invitations for you to know Him better. This is not what is best for you, but it is what is best for God, and when your rebellious choices demand that God choose between you or Himself, He will always choose Himself. To thrive in our relationships with God, we need to understand our place. He is His own First Love. We are a distant second.
But that’s the grim picture. Only complete idiots choose to keep rebelling against a Creator who considers them to be very expendable. If you’re wise, you’ll choose the path of total submission instead, in which case you’ll experience the glorious benefits of God’s great faithfulness to you. As long as He sees that your soul sincerely cares about pleasing Him, God is going to cause His best plan to unfold in your life. When valleys come and you feel too overwhelmed to go on, He will faithfully carry you through. When your trust collapses under strain and your good attitude turns sour, God will faithfully keep you close to Him. Spiritual refinement can include some very ugly periods during which the most dedicated among us are reduced to griping, spiteful, selfish beasts. But if we have ever longed for more of God and earnestly leapt upon His invitation to know Him better, then He will faithfully carry us through the entire refinement process and delight in blessing us with the riches of His glorious Company in Heaven.
For those who submit to God in life, His great faithfulness to us becomes an unshakable foundation of core peace and hope which our souls are able to firmly anchor on. If God wasn’t faithful to us, we would have no hope at all. So often we find ourselves hating His methods and unable to make sense out of His wisdom. But knowing that we can count on God to give us what we’d really want if we understood what was truly best for us takes all the pressure off of us. We don’t have to understand what is best, we just have to trust His judgment and submit to His choices for us. We don’t have to plan ahead because He knows the end from the beginning and we can count on Him to lead us through each day.