How to Be a Good and Faithful Servant
MAY 12, 2021
I’m a preacher of radical grace. And as a cynical, old preacher, I’ve learned some things over the years.
Everybody has a secret. If you were required to reveal your secret to others, you would be so ashamed and mortified that you’d want to leave or crawl down into a hole to hide.
Because of our secrets, most Christians believe that God is angry with us. God has called me to tell Christians the truth that, because of justification and imputation, God isn’t angry with them…and never will be.
Faithfulness is not what you think. It is not defined in terms of purity and goodness. It isn’t always doing it right or being really religious. Faithfulness is simply showing…and staying.
I’m the poster boy. What I do is insane. If there were a list of people God would choose to do this, I’m convinced that I wouldn’t even be on the list. But I’m still here. Bloodied, sinful, needy, and cussing and spitting. But I’m still here and I’ll be here until I die. (Where else can I go?)
I’ve heard a successful person defined as someone who got up the last time he was knocked down.
That’s faithfulness. Always beginning again…until you get Home.
So based on Philippians 2:12-18, what is faithfulness?
The source of faithfulness is God himself (not us).
Paul says that we are to work out our salvation and then makes sure we understand: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
We need to stop saying at funerals, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21). The only true “good and faithful servant” is Jesus. The most powerful witness you can make is your sin…and then point to him.
Sometimes we forget that our Heavenly Father isn’t just our “Father” but our “Father in heaven.” He is sovereign Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of all that we see, of all that is, and of our lives. If we are faithful, it isn’t because we are. It’s because he is. God’s gift is faithfulness.
As the lion Aslan tells Jill in C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, for Living Water, “There is no other stream.”
Darkness is the contrast to faithfulness.
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15).
We live in a very dark time. But when it gets dark enough, even a little light will do. So…
Don’t shilly-shally…even if there’s perspiration on your forehead and your knees are shaking. When it gets dark enough, even a little light will do.
Speak truth…even if you’re afraid of what people will say and your voice is weak. When it gets dark enough, even a little light will do.
Love the unlovely…even if you don’t do it well. When it gets dark enough, even a little light will do.
Forgive the unforgivable…even if you don’t want to. When it gets dark enough, even a little light will do.
Stand firm for Christ…even if you want to run. When it gets dark enough, even a little light will do.
Faithfulness is our gift to the world. “Holding fast to the word of life…” (Philippians 2:16).
In the Greek, “holding fast” is better translated as “holding forth” as one would offer a gift.
Faithfulness—showing and not leaving—really is a gift that we give to the world.
We sacrifice in our faithfulness.
“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith…” (Philippians 2:17).
That kind of bothers me. Paul has been faithful. He should have been commended and rewarded for it, but instead he is facing execution.
We’re here for them.
I believe that every time an unbeliever gets cancer, struggles in their marriage, loses a job or messes up, it also happens to a Christian so that the world can see the difference.
That’s called faithfulness. Our sacrificial faithfulness is our gift. We have a calling from God to show up and not to run. In doing that, we make our faithfulness a gift.
It’s the joy of faithfulness. “I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:17-18).
Paul is in prison, glad and rejoicing. What’s up with that? Let me tell you something. There is nothing better than going to bed at night and praying, “Lord, I didn’t like it. I wanted to run, but I stayed. Yay me!” When you’re faithful during the day, you’ll sleep better at night.
There is one other joy. It’s the joy we give to one another in the faithfulness that God gives to us.
Ask me if I’m still walking it. And I’ll ask you.
I may be sinful, struggling and screwed up…but I’m still walking it.
That’s my gift to you. And your gift to me.
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