This article appeared in HomeLife magazine in January 2017 under the name "Fresh Faith." Della Thomason, whom I mention in the article, died this past week at age 102. It was a privilege and joy to speak at her home going service yesterday.
Few qualities are as significant as faithfulness. Merriam-Webster defines faithfulness as “steadfast in affection or allegiance” or “showing true and constant support or loyalty.”
Today, America and the church are deeply affected by a consumer-oriented mentality. We make decisions based on our happiness and preferences. We want to be served rather than make the sacrifices to serve others. We want to go to church and be fed rather than ask, “How can we feed others?”
It would be rare to hear a family say, “We’re choosing a church based on how we can best use our lives to glorify God, serve others, and benefit the kingdom.”
Jesus values faithfulness: “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much” (Luke 16:10).
Our “very little” may be a Sunday School, discipleship, or missions class we teach. We spend several hours preparing and then only have four of five people come. Or, our “very little” may be delivering meals to a few shut-ins weekly. We may pray for God to use us at work but feel our reach is small. We may have a college degree, yet find ourselves staying home caring for two or three preschoolers.
Yet remember the promise of Jesus: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40).
One hundred people in our class are not necessary to gain His attention. He exhorts us to be faithful to the ones He gives us. And when we do, He sees and credits it to our account.
After the builder generation returned from World War II, they became models of faithfulness. They understood their greatness came from being faithful to causes bigger than their own happiness and fulfillment.
I remember several of those builders who influenced my life.
• Martha Fowler, a young senior adult, taught my fourth grade Sunday School class. I remember how seriously she took the Bible, revered God, and loved her students.
• Della Thomason, who just turned 100, taught third grade Sunday School for 50+ years in one church I served. She finally “retired” from teaching children when she was about 90 years old. In her 90's, Della would ask while I was visiting in her home or call me at church with a Bible question. I knew a serious question was coming when she said, "Now Rhett . . . ."
• My grandmother, Virginia Hendrix, taught the senior adult Bible class in her church into her eighties, until she was bedridden. Then they named the class after her!
And what a wonderful example Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A, left. He faithfully taught Sunday School to elementary boys in his church for more than 40 years. Why? Because he believed it was better to build boys than mend men.
Certainly these and others didn’t serve because of convenience but because they knew Jesus wants us to serve.
We’re wise to remember models of faithfulness. We learn from their steadfast examples. Our setting may be one in the limelight, or it may be one of obscurity. Either way, Jesus is pleased as we practice faithfulness.
Here are four ways we can pass on faithfulness.
1. Interact in family devotions over Bible passages of faithful heroes. Discuss qualities in the lives of Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Barnabas, and others.
2. Read stories together of Christian statesmen whose faithfulness was costly. Learn the lives of Brother Andrew, William Bradford, Corrie ten Boom, and Mary Slessor, to name a few.
3. Model faithfulness. Do our children see us serving others? Do we show up on time? Do we come prepared? Do we use our time, money, and resources to serve others?
4. Involve our children in serving. They can help us prepare for the church class, set up chairs for the youth meeting, and visit the elderly and sick.
As we enter the first month of the new year, let’s be faithful to Christ and His call on our lives.
We’re wise to remember models of faithfulness. We learn from their steadfast examples.