When I think of the word “faithfulness,” I tend to picture it in terms of extreme devotion, a consistent loyalty through thick and thin, something or someone that is true and constant, never-failing. They are always there, they always come through, and they are steadfast to the end. Sounds like quite the impressive list of characteristics and qualities.
When I think of faithfulness, an example that I considered were those of some very famous, loyal pets. Hopefully many of you can remember the endearing stories of Lassie, Old Yeller, and the coonhounds from Where the Red Fern Grows. These stories touch our hearts as we get an incredible glimpse of faithfulness and loyalty through the lives of some members of the canine family. If you recall each of these stories, Google them if you need a refresher, all of these dogs come to the aide of their human owners in some magnificent and daring ways. Lassie is constantly putting her life in danger for the safety of those around her, Old Yeller saves his owner, Travis, from a group of wild hogs, and the two coonhounds from Where the Red Fern Grows defend their owner from a mountain lion at the risk of their own lives.
It is amazing to consider the faithfulness and loyalty that are shown in stories like this and then consider what our thoughts would be about the character and loyalty of these animals if they had abandoned instead of assisted, if they had run instead of rescued, if they had quit instead? That would shake one’s resolve; there would be distrust, hurt, and deception. The very one whom you thought you could count on, that could come through for you, that would never leave your side does the unthinkable.
In these cases, the loyalty and faithfulness that are shown by these canine characters is to a pretty full degree, but it is then that the question comes to you and me. When it comes to faithfulness and loyalty, how faithful and loyal are you and I to those around us? Our friends, family, and loved ones, our fellow human beings, or the callings placed on our life? The easy and quick answer that I, and many of you might give, would be, “Why, yes. I would consider myself to be a pretty loyal and faithful person.” But as the layers are peeled back, where are the areas and places in our lives where faithfulness and loyalty fall short, take a back seat, are put on a lower pedestal as we serve and look out for ourselves first?
It can be a hard answer and reality to see at times. Am I always there when I need to be? Do I always come through like I should? Do I always say, react, think, and live in the way that I ought? Do you? The answer, unfortunately, is “No.” We don’t always follow through on what we say, we don’t always see through what we intend, we aren’t always there when or as we are needed. But that opens the door to see the immense loyalty and faithfulness that is shown to us by Christ.
We have only really touched on our human-to-human interactions and failings when it comes to faithfulness and this does not even scratch the surface of the times we have been unfaithful to God. But it is in that void of unfaithfulness that we see, experience, and receive His never-ending faithfulness. Since the beginning of time, what God says, He will do, what He intends, comes to be, what He promises, He fulfills. We serve a God who is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful, whose words are His actions, who fights for us on our behalf, who loves and stands by us through thick and thin, who promises to never leave us or forsake us, who comes to our aide and provides a safe way, who buys and redeems us back when we go off on our own.
That’s a God to be devoted to, that’s a God to love and be in fellowship with, that is a faithfulness to be thankful for. And somehow, undeservedly, that faithfulness is for you and it’s for me. Because of God’s faithfulness to us, He calls us to extend that loyalty and faithfulness to those around us. This is only possible because of the extent that He has given it to us and to the extent that we grasp the magnitude of the loyalty that He has first shown to us.
Basking in His unlimited faithfulness,
Pastor Ben Bigaouette