A Chipped Tooth and a Dislocated Foot
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint. Proverbs 25:19, NKJV
Ever had a chipped tooth? It’s irritating, distracting and cuts up the rest of your mouth. How about a dislocated joint? It makes that part of your body unusable, painful and looks awkward and weird. An unfaithful person is just like that—irritating, distracting and cuts you up! An unfaithful person is unusable, painful and makes everything awkward.
A faithful person, who can find? Many people claim it, but it’s actually hard to come by. The writer of Proverbs wondered about that, “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6, NIV)
The Apostle Paul found faithfulness in Timothy, his son in the work of the gospel, “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” (Philippians 2:20-22, NIV)
It doesn’t take very long in life, in relationships, in leadership, in being an employer or in ministry to discover that faithfulness is like a rare gem.
What are the dynamics of faithfulness? Let’s look at what Jesus said about this important character trait in Luke 16: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12, NLT)
Faithfulness in Little Things: Faithfulness starts with honoring the Lord and obeying God in the little things. It’s the stuff no one sees, like attitudes and words. Do we roll our eyes? What do we say under our breath? It’s obedience in small details. Do we obey our parents and make our bed? Take out the trash? Do we respect our employer and show up to work on time, or do we show up late? Are we honest, or do we lie to protect ourselves or exaggerate to look important? Do we say thank you? It’s Leadership 101. Are we faithful leaders or are we forgetful, sloppy and unprepared? Can we communicate, answer an email and keep the troops moving forward? Or is the tail wagging the dog? To be faithful in little things, we must be the kind of people who care more about the praises of God than the praises of man. We won’t need to be concerned with big things until we can be faithful in the little things.
I remember a time in my life when I worked my tail off for another ministry. God gave me a creative idea to help that ministry. I presented the idea to the ministry leaders, worked on the idea, developed the idea, carried out the idea and the idea was successful—and guess what? I didn’t get the credit! One of the guys I worked with got and took all the credit! I was so tempted to talk to the ministry leaders and set the record straight, until I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “This is a test. This is only a test….” I knew it was a faithfulness test. It was a little thing and I decided to keep quiet. I knew the Lord kept good records and He would make it all come out in the wash. I never said a word. God let me know I passed the test and over the next several years, He opened many doors and gave me greater responsibilities and more influence.
Faithfulness in Financial Things: If we ever want the opportunity to be faithful with true heavenly riches, we must be faithful with our liquid cash! Are we faithful tithers? Generous givers? Good stewards? Some people think they can separate their spiritual life from their financial life, but really the exact opposite is true. Our financial faithfulness is a thermometer for the condition of our true spiritual life. To be faithful in finances, we must be the kind of people who truly trust that the Lord is our source and that He will find a way to meet all our needs as we are faithful to obey Him. We won’t need to be concerned with managing large sums of money and massive spiritual riches if we are not faithful in the basics on giving and stewardship.
We’ve known many people who have made the decision to honor God with their finances, even when they didn’t feel like it, and time and time again the Lord has found ways to increase their wealth and enrich them spiritually. At the same time, we’ve known people who would not bring themselves to tithe or be generous and “coincidently” they are the same ones that never seem to be able to connect-the-spiritual-dots and get consistent victory in their lives. Faithfulness in finances and spiritual riches go together.
Faithfulness in Another Man’s Things: Many people want their own business or ministry, but they forget it starts with being faithful in another person’s business and ministry. Being faithful in another man’s means that we realize it IS another man’s—it’s not ours. We are stewards and called to help their business prosper, help their ministry grow and increase. We are not embezzlers or sheep stealers—we are pure in our motives and actions to help another succeed. To be faithful in another man’s, we must not look to our own interests or personal gain. We must know we are there to sow; trusting that one day the Lord will cause us to reap. We won’t need to be concerned with having our own business or ministry if we are not faithful in another man’s.
When we started a publishing arm of VFC years ago, we were building our contact list and finding all kinds of people and churches that wanted to use our materials. One day, we faced the faithfulness test. The Bible School we graduated from had sent us a recent Alumni Directory with the names and addresses of thousands of Christians, pastors and ministers—we were tempted to input the whole book into our database, until we read the small print in the directory where they forbade that type of usage. Would we be faithful with another man’s data or would we claim it as our own? It was a test. We decided that integrity was more important than a few more customers, so we decided we would NOT use that directory and build on another man’s foundation. Instead, we would trust the Lord to help us build that area of our ministry from scratch. The result? Our conscience was clear and God was faithful to us.
Are you faithful in little things? Are you faithful in your finances? Are you faithful in another man’s? God is watching. When He counts you faithful, He will promote you!
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry… 1 Timothy 1:12, NKJV
Say It: “Father, I want to be found faithful—in little things, in finances and in another man’s. Help me to take inventory and do a more excellent job in these areas and help me make amends where I have blown it. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”