Read: Jeremiah 1:1-10; Genesis 6:9-21
I was talking with a friend this week about what she is reading in the Bible. She has been studying Jeremiah. What a faithful man he was. My friend has been thinking about how Jeremiah's life highlights God's patience. It is surely true. After all, God told Jeremiah that the people were not going to listen to his message from God to them, Jeremiah 7:27; even so, he was given the task of warning them that captivity would be imminent if they didn't repent. Jeremiah faithfully held out both God's warning and God's offer of grace to his people for about forty years. For the most part, his message was disregarded and even angrily opposed; yet, in God's eyes, Jeremiah was successful. Isn't it a wonderful truth that God counts being obedient to what He has called us to do to be what is important, 1 Corinthians 4:2?
How differently the world views success than God does. The world asks about the bottom line or the results of our actions. Success is what can be quantified and put into a ledger; however, God looks at things very differently. He is honored by a man's consistent desire to please Him and a heart that honors Him, 1 Samuel 16:7.
My friend is correct. Jeremiah's consistency in sharing God's truth put God's patience on display, and he wasn't the only biblical person whose life boldly trumpeted God's patience toward mankind. Consider Noah.
We meet him in Genesis 6 and there discover that he lived among people whose lives were characterized by wickedness, Genesis 6:11-12. Because of this pervasive evil, God commissioned Noah to build an ark of safety to preserve Noah, his family, any who would heed his warning and also the various animals. Noah's life of obedience as well as his words painted a picture of what his faithfulness looked like, Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5. Yet, his message went unheeded, in spite of his on-going work in building the ark and his words of warning. Once again, in God's eyes, his herald Noah was a success because of his obedience to God's call.
Yes, repentance surely was the hoped-for result that both Jeremiah and Noah longed to see. They cried out for the people to come to God and honor Him with their lives, but when that didn't occur, their faithfulness still resulted in their lives having honored the Lord. Can we also be faithful like Jeremiah and Noah? It is unlikely that we will be charged with tasks that look a great deal like theirs; even so, we have the opportunity to be faithful servants who listen and do what God asks of us each day. Sometimes our faithfulness will result in being rewarded here on earth. Other times, we might not see results here, but in either case, we will live in the knowledge that we are the recipients of God's smile because we are faithful stewards of what He has given us, Luke 19:16-17.
What might this every-day faithfulness look like?
1. Loving and caring for children's needs and teaching them about God's love, Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
2. Doing yard and household tasks, 1 Corinthians 10:31.
3. Teaching a home-schooled child or helping a public school educated child with homework.
4. Driving family members back and forth throughout the day.
5. Listening to people with the desire to understand them, Proverbs 20:5.
6. Praying for people instead of talking about them in a cutting way, Galatians 5:15.
7. Speaking sincere words of affirmation when we would rather do the opposite, Ephesians 4:29.
8. Bringing enjoyment or honoring someone who can never reciprocate, Luke 14:12-14.
9. Doing a helpful thing without complaining about having had to do it, Philippians 2:14.
These are only, I know, a tiny sample of ways we can demonstrate faithfulness. If I may, I'd like to highlight one more:
10. Telling people about Jesus and continuing to reach out to them until God closes the door.
Here is a true story of such a man who was faithful and saw beautiful fruit right here on earth. His name is Raul Ries, and he is now a pastor. In the early 70's Raul Ries was born again, and he longed for everyone to know His Lord. He bought the largest Bible he could find and began to study it with vigor. One day, not long after Jesus made Himself known to Mr. Ries, he says that the Lord showed him that he was supposed to go back to his old high school. So, he prayed and took that giant Bible on campus to Baldwin Park High School. Their reaction? The police were called and he was thrown out and told never to return. They thought he was nuts. He didn't want to go back, but God wanted him to. So he returned and talked with the principal and vice principal whom he knew, and they gave him the okay. He could speak to the students. That's just what he did. He was greeted with milk and cake. No, not served to him but thrown at him! Once again, he didn't want to return, but God's work through him wasn't finished. Back he went. Days and weeks passed, and gradually, God opened the door and a few kids asked him about the Lord. Then one day, about two months after Raul initially began showing up at the high school, God spoke to his heart, letting him know he should stand on a bench and speak to the kids. His voice wasn't loud and there was no PA. He began with the simple and beautiful message of John 3:16, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the kids. The result was that hundreds did give their lives to the Lord. It is a reminder that God alone determines the results of our faithfulness. It is not by our might or our power but by His Spirit that God's results are wrought, Zechariah 4:6.
Lord, Help each of us who belong to You to be faithful in whatever You give us to do each day.