God’s faithfulness means that He is completely dependable and can be relied upon; He is faithful in all His words, promises and actions. Lamentations 3 vs 23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[b] His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” How wonderful it is to know the love of God and experience His mercies that never comes to an end! Where do we see God’s ultimate faithfulness? Where do we see the perfect demonstration of His words, promises and actions coming together? We see it at the cross. The cross is the defining moment in history where God fully delivered all that He has promised.
Psalms 36:5 (ESV) "Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."
I love the picture the psalmist paints in chapter 36 vs 5 when he says “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Have you ever sat out in the garden and gazed up at the clouds? When the kids were little we would play the cloud game. We would lay on the grass and begin to point out all the shapes and objects that we could see in the clouds. It was often very random objects, but it would entertain the kids for a little while at least, and we got to have a lie down too - bonus! The kids would try to reach out and touch the clouds and they wondered how far away the clouds were. We would say to them the gap between you and the clouds is huge but filled with the faithfulness of God. They never quite understood it and, in many ways, it was the same for us as parents. The picture the psalmist paints of God’s faithfulness is wonderful, a picture so incredible that it’s hard to get your head around because God is so magnificent in His nature and glory.
God is completely faithful in His words, promises and actions and because of who He is we can have confidence knowing the gospel has saved us. We can live and enjoy life knowing that our salvation is secure, wonderfully secure. Not based on our faithfulness but solely on God’s faithfulness towards us. Rejoice with me as we read this article and know with fresh assurance our hope and future is secure because God is faithful.
Now comes the hard bit, I can sit here and think of numerous ways in which my words, promises and action have been unfaithful. Countless examples. But the question is, how can we, even in a small way, reflect such an incredible characteristic of God, His faithfulness? Every word that God has ever spoken or promised is completely faithful and backed up by His other attributes to bring about His perfect will. So, let’s spend some time reflecting on how we can be faithful in these three aspects; our words, promises and actions.
One of the biggest ways that we can reflect God’s faithfulness is by implementing church policies and procedures. I can think of numerous policies and procedures that we use and implement every day. These policies and procedures require our attention and are a great example of where we can give expression to this characteristic of God. At the minute we are all in the middle of writing covid-19 risk assessments, outlining the numerous action points needed to be in place to reduce the spread of this virus. We know that this risk assessment will form the legal basis for the church to regather so the importance of faithfully delivering what we have outlined is crucial. It’s our job as leaders and administrators to build the necessary structures and teams to make sure this happens across the multiple ministries of the church. Your risk assessment may outline the use of a one-way system, use of masks, toilet policies, queuing systems and hand sanitizer stations. Your compliance and faithfulness to this risk assessment is vital, we must do what we say we are going to do.
Imagine the impact of not faithfully implementing a child protection policy and the devastating effect it could have on an individual or family. This policy is a game changer and drives home the point! I know for many church members their initial reaction to policy and procedure is a negative one. Nobody in the church is excited to attend the annual child protection training, I can hear the moans and groans of volunteers giving up an evening to be reminded of their responsibilities and the sober realisation that our children need to be protected. Our policy requires our children’s ministries volunteers to attend the annual training as part of our compliance. One of the ways I have sought to encourage our members to attend these evenings is to make the connection of the training to the gospel. If we don’t have a child protection policy fully implemented then we cannot have children at church, and we cannot share the gospel with the next generation. The child protection training is gospel work, that may not seem obvious at first, you may not make that connection, but without it the gospel can not be shared with our children. We do the hard work to create a safe environment for the children to come and hear the gospel, that’s faithfulness, that’s us putting the stamp of God’s character on display.
Apply that same principle to the covid-19 risk assessment that we were talking about earlier, if the legal requirement is not met, no one can come to church to hear the gospel. The risk assessment is therefore gospel work! Now it sounds so obvious but the application of it into our church is significant, if I can remind our church members who are serving in these areas that they are doing gospel work, it changes the motivation, determination and focus needed. Not only does it raise the importance of implementing policy and procedure, but it brings a far greater joy as we reflect God’s faithfulness.
If you are involved in church finances, then here is another example of where we can place the stamp of God’s faithfulness on our work behind the scenes. Our record keeping is vital and must be faithfully administered. This sounds so simple but if you are working in this area behind the scenes you know that the hard work is in the day-to-day details; organising budgets, managing income and expenditure, arranging payments and following your policy and compliance to the letter. We are then called to faithfully update and report our work to our Elders and Trustees. All this preparation is needed so that we are ready to meet the external deadlines set by the Charities Commission to report our annual accounts. I remember when I first started out as an administrator, I spent two days a week just working on the financial controls. Thankfully, in time, I found someone far more capable to take on the role who far exceeded my abilities. As I served in the role, I found it challenging and at times lonely. The job also required me to follow up with staff to chase missing receipts. Some of the staff didn’t share the same understanding or desire to provide them in the set time scale as me. This can be frustrating and difficult. Now you might be wondering why on earth I’m mentioning this example when we are talking about stamping God’s faithfulness in our work. I raise it because part of our job working behind the scenes is not to just to be faithful ourselves, but our compliance requires us to call others to be faithful. It can be easy for frustration to build up in our hearts and if you are like me, I can distance myself from staff because I feel like I am constantly hassling them. If that’s the case, here are a couple of thoughts that have helped me. Firstly, be faithful in providing staff with feedback, let your line manager know about some of the challenges. Secondly remember the gospel, God is faithful to those who are unfaithful. We have all known and experienced God’s patience and kindness in our unfaithfulness. Let’s apply the gospel to others. This doesn’t mean we don’t require staff to follow compliance, because we absolutely do need their receipts, but the gospel applied in this situation changes the way we approach our work or the individual. I am grateful that as I focus on the gospel, it does the work needed in my heart, making me more like Christ. As we seek to place the stamp of God’s character on our work, remember God is continuing to place His stamp on us every day, making us more like Christ. Glory to God!
I can’t finish this article without freshly reminding myself that God can be fully relied upon. He is the definition of what it means to be dependable. Imagine if we had that same ability, to be totally dependable, my life would be very different. I would make every deadline with perfect competency, never forget anything, never miss a job on the list, never let anyone down. What a joy that would be for those around me! However, we are not perfect. I cannot fulfil it all perfectly. But God, rich in mercy and grace will equip me and is patient with me and is faithful even when I am not. How wonderfully different God is from us! We are recipients of his grace and objects of his mercy and kindness, great is thy faithfulness!
Let’s get stamping, stamping the character of God on the operations and on the administration of the church as we think about the God of faithfulness.