Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 3 John, verse 5.
Faithful is tough. I’m not just talking about fidelity versus infidelity; that shouldn’t be tough, but once you get it in your heart that the grass is greener on ‘the other side,’ you’re not letting yourself admit that they’re just slinging more manure. It’s tough to stay committed, and whether we realize it or not, that means so much more than just vows. But faith is tough. Having faith is the toughest thing you’ll ever do, in fact.
That’s what the Apostle John was talking about. It’s what Jesus, speaking through him, wanted us to know.
Think about it: I’m betting you are faithful every day. You’re faithful in doing your work. You’re faithful in paying your bills, wearing clothes, being kind to animals, and a host of other activities. It isn’t that difficult to do, you think, because it doesn’t take much to do these things. You get the door for someone else. You tell your mom that you love her when you hang up the phone. You stay up to make sure the kids get home safely. You let someone go ahead of you in line. You smile at someone in the crowd.
Do you think you do these things on your own?
So now let’s couple having faith with being faithful to strangers; total strangers. It’s tough to get motivated to serve people who have zero chance of ever repaying your kindness. Not long ago, my friend, Mark, and I were doing some community work together when he told me, “you know that God’s going to blow this up and move your life in crazy ways because of it.” He meant that the work we were doing was something God would use and explode in ways I can’t forsee, but will always be for His glory. We did our work with no expectation of reward, thinking that Jesus will indeed take it and make it into something new, something big, that will reap glory for Him in ways we can’t imagine. We did it anyway.
And if you think more about it, it really is difficult to do these things. The natural world is a place of violence, where only those willing to take what they need survive. The fallen world is kill or be killed. It’s easier to purchase things and have them rather than make payments. Wear what you want; animals are lower species; who cares what other people think; Mom already did her part; smiles are for chumps. Yet we still ‘do the right thing’ even when nobody is looking.
That’s not a coincidence. That’s Jesus. Being faithful to doing the right thing, especially when nobody is looking, is Jesus working in you. He loves through you.
Jesus, thank you for living through me so I can be faithful to You.