A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished. Proverbs 28, verse 20.
Yesterday I wrote about what a wonderful life it is, how God blesses us even when we don’t deserve it and even when we aren’t living the lives we thought we would. Let’s face it, though: we all get down now and then; it’s part of being human. When you let yourself get all wrapped around thinking about what you don’t have, you venture into dark territory. When your thoughts become pre-occupied with ‘why me’ or what you don’t have instead of what you do, then you risk becoming something much harder to live with.
I’m not just talking about marital fidelity, though that’s obviously a part of it. Faithfulness is much more. It’s belief in what you don’t see. It is standing up for what you believe. Faithfulness is being trustworthy, kind, and honest; faithfulness includes integrity, doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Faithfulness is clinging to hard truths even when you don’t want to, and it’s disciplining yourself to do work when it would be much more fun to watch TV or surf the web. Faithfulness is listening when you want to talk, saying ‘I’m sorry’ to honorably keep the peace, sitting down to talk over the bills, keeping up family traditions in tough times, and getting your to-do list done because you said you would.
Get it? I’m betting you do, so I’ll stop belaboring the point.
Unfaithfulness is what happens when you don’t do those things. Gee, thanks, Dave. I really appreciate hearing that. What a great way to start my day!
Here’s the twist, though: have you noticed that, even though we all slip up and venture into Unfaithfulland now and then, we are still blessed? Even though we mess up, fantasize about what we shouldn’t, keep slamming our neighbors, gossiping about our enemies, taking up bad habits, and harboring anger about our exes, God still blesses us immeasurably. If you wake up to read this, you’re blessed. If you have air in your lungs, you’re blessed. Clothes in your closet, someone to say ‘hi,’ something (anything) to look forward to, a place to call home: if you or I have any of these things (or more) we’re blessed. God does it whether we deserve it or not. He pours blessings down on us in ways we can’t even imagine. The next time you’re feeling down (and it happens to me a lot), I’ll challenge you to do this: just start counting small, even insignificant, good things around you every day. Say a quick “thank you for my shoes, thank you for air, thank you for a drink of water” and so on.
Before long, I promise you that you’ll feel different. It could just be that God will go to work on you and help you or me, the unfaithful, to realize the legion blessings in our lives. It’s a series of small prayers that cost you nothing but will gradually open your heart and begin to let God transform it.
Imagine how different it would feel if we were faithful.
Yeah, maybe it’s a prayer-mind-game, but it works because it’s one way God uses to remind me of some needed humility. I need those reminders every day because I’m constantly going in search of the latest get-rich-quick scheme. Those schemes are the dreams and fantasies that preoccupy my time when I should be working. Or the latest way to quickly pay off a bill. Or maybe they are the little ways I put myself first in how I schedule my day, arrange my time, or choose to pass it by. Maybe there is punishment when, instead of spending time with my son, I choose to sit on my computer and write. Or it could be when I stare at the shapely lady walking by, or when I’m sitting in church wishing I was anywhere but there.
See the key here? Unfaithfulness is anything that takes your eye off the ball. I’ll say it again: unfaithfulness is anything that isn’t right. Any time anything comes between you and the love of God, it’s unfaithful.
I need those reminders to keep me grounded, to keep me realizing how truly rich God has made me. I bet you do too. The number of digits in my bank account is moot: I’m filthy rich because of something He did for me. It’s Christmas, so I’m really hoping you realize that He did it for you too. Realizing that makes you begin to understand that it really is a wonderful life after all.