What did you do today? If your day is just beginning, what’s on your calendar for today?
Guess what? Whatever consumed your day – there is an opportunity to be faithful right in front of you.
In each of our interactions and commitments, we have an opportunity to be faithful. I don’t know about you, but when I consider God’s faithfulness – it gives me a reason to pause.
The unwavering faithfulness of God is incomprehensible. And that’s exactly why it’s important for us to consider how we respond. If you’re a leader, you have the responsibility to guide others in growing closer to who Jesus invites them to be.
Whether you’re leading 3 people or 3000 people, you are an example to others. Carry that responsibility with grace and humility. No, you’re not perfect. Remember, relationships are messy. But you are an example. You already know, this isn’t an area to settle for what you see around you. You can raise the expectation and model what faithfulness means as a follower of Jesus.
For those who struggle with faithfulness – you’re not alone. From the 8th century and Hosea’s ministry to today, it continues to be a challenge. News flash: no one ever said it was easy. Things we care about rarely are easy. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t try. It also doesn’t mean we don’t work at it.
Thank goodness, every now and then, there are models of faithfulness reminding us it is possible. Because faithfulness, commitment, loyalty are qualities not always talked about in everyday life, it can sound extreme. Maybe it should. Maybe it’s the reminder we need to embody a new way of living.
For those connected to the Wesleyan movement, John Wesley’s response to a question about faithfulness will come as no surprise:
A lady once asked John Wesley that suppose he was to know that he would die at 12:00 midnight tomorrow, how would he spend the intervening time. His reply: “Why madam, just as I intend to spend it now. I would preach this evening at Gloucester, and again at five tomorrow morning; after that I would ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in the evening. I would then go to Rev. Martin’s house, who expects to entertain me, talk and pray with the family, as usual, retire to my room at 10 o’clock, commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in Glory.”
Wesley embodied faithfulness. Wesley modeled faithfulness, even in the face of death.
Now that we’ve set the expectation for leaders, ready to take a look at unfaithfulness, three ways to explore faithfulness, and what Hosea reminds us?
Here we go…. Let’s awaken faithfulness.
The Lessons from Unfaithfulness
The passage we’re focusing on today is Hosea 2:14-20 – an unlikely (maybe?) place to explore faithfulness. At first glance, you might think the prophet Hosea, ministering during the 8th century B.C. would be out of touch with what’s happening in our world in 2018.
Not so. We’re also living in a world surrounded by stories of unfaithfulness.
Hosea experienced unfaithfulness and used his experience to teach others. Sometimes there is just as much learning at the opposite extreme. Such was the case for Hosea. He learned about God’s faithfulness, faithfulness in relationships, and being faithful to God through the unfaithfulness of Gomer.
No – this isn’t going to be a exposé on different types of unfaithfulness flying through social media or the news media. But, I’d be missing an obvious part of current reality if I didn’t point out unfaithful people seem to be in the showing up on the news, social media, and internet.
We’re not surprised, are we? Whether it’s tv and film stars or close interpersonal relationships, we often hear about what’s happening when things are NOT right. Maybe it’s because unfaithfulness “makes a better story.” There is conflict, often there is drama and interpersonal dynamics that pull people into the story.
For me, I’d rather hear about how people are getting relationships – with God, with each other, and with their community – right. Even when these relationships are messy. Yes, there is a genuine opportunity to be faithful when things are a mess.
And, let’s be real. There isn’t a perfect relationship out there. We’re human.
But thank goodness, Jesus is a whole different story. So let’s begin with the One who is the epitome of faithfulness.
1. Faithfulness of God
The God we know in Jesus is faithful. God is loyal and consistent. God’s very nature, overflowing with boundless power and unrestrained love imply faithfulness. So how is God’s faithfulness known?
- experienced through his faithful promises (1 Kings 8:56, Ps 145:13, 2 Pet 3:9)
- faithful to his name and character (2 Tim 2:13, Ps 106, Heb 6:13-18)
- is constant in faithfulness (Rom 3:3-4)
- Jesus is the ultimate evidence of God’s faithfulness (Acts 13:32-33, Jn 14:9-11)
2. Faithfulness to God
This is our response to God because we’re a part of God’s family. Our “yes” in baptism enfolds us in the covenant of God. Here are a few examples of how we show faithfulness to God.
- devotion (Micah 4:5, Luke 9:62)
- obedience (Dt 11:13, Ez 18:9)
- service (1 Sam 12:24, 1 Tim 1:12)
- giving (2 Cor 8:1-5)
- prayer (Ro 12:12)
- endurance (2 Tim 2:11-13, Heb 10:36)
- fulfilling vows (Dt 23:21-23, Ps 22:25)
- the call to faithfulness (1 Cor 15:58)
3. Faithfulness in Human Relationships
The loyalty and commitment to human relationships are also important to God’s people. Whether it is fidelity in marriage (Mt 5:27-28), fulfilling family obligations (1 Sam 2:19, Jn 19:25-27) or honoring vows (Eph 5:33), human relationships invite us to be faithful. Serving one another in love (Ro 16:1-2, Gal 6:10) and trustworthy speech and conduct (2 Cor 8:&-11, Lk 16:10, 19:17) are two other opportunities to be faithful in our relationships with others.
Probably the most surprising thing we encounter in Scripture about faithfulness in relation to humans is that it is rare. How crazy is that? The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah both speak about the rarity of this quality.
Let’s take it as a challenge to prove them wrong. What would happen if followers of Jesus were faithful in at least 2-3 of the above ways? Staying faithful to your family, serving one another in love, and being trustworthy. Start there. Actually, begin anywhere.
Faithfulness in Hosea
I won’t offer a long commentary on Hosea. But, F. H. Paschall writes, “If the Gospels explore the meaning of God becoming human, then Hosea describes what happens when humans are allowed to see what it means to be God.” Hosea starts by comparing his family to the Lord’s relationship with Israel. By chapter 2, Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea has become the story of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord. But, in the end, love triumphs.
In today’s passage, Hosea 2:14-20, God is promising to bring them out of this bondage. There is a promise of security and restoration of relationships. Yes, even in the midst of participation in a fertility cult (Baalism), the Lord is faithful.
In the end, it is a message of hope. Hosea, however, had to live it himself before he could share the message with the people. His life was a learning lab for the faithfulness of God, being faithful to God, and faithfulness in relationships.
Sometimes the lessons of unfaithfulness lead us to new places. The redemption and restoration that happens is a gift of God’s unwavering love. Now it’s your turn to awaken faithfulness.
Hosea, John Wesley, and Jesus all give us the courage we need to embody faithfulness. If we have everything we need, how about we awaken faithfulness in the midst of our every day, ordinary lives?