Believe 28 – Faithfulness
May 31, 2015
Let me ask you . . . what’s in a name? Sometimes we hear names of kids, and we wonder what were the parents thinking about! How could they name their kids that?! When we have children we consider all the possible names, maybe make a list and come up with what we believe will describe that child.
How people name their children Adolf, or lucifer or Benedict? Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their boy NORTHWEST, and Lil Kim named her daughter ROYAL REIGN. Frank Zappa named his kids Moon Unit and Dweezil.
We lived in Dearborn, Michigan from 2004-2007. Dearborn also has the largest muslim population in the United States. It was a very different experience. What made it even more interesting were the friends Joshua and Zachary made. They would hang out with kids named Muhammad, Hussein and more. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be talking to kids and their parents with those names. What’s in a name? Names carry great meaning and weight in our eyes.
And then there are nicknames, but we won’t get into them. Plus, there may be pet names that you and your spouse call each other. We won’t get into those either!
Consider what happens when others hear your name. What’s their first thought? How about when God looks at you, or when God hears your name . . . what’s God thinking about when it comes to you?
Our key verse is the one we’re going to look at today. When King Solomon wrote Proverbs, he wrote these words in Proverbs 3 ~
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
So, what was Solomon getting at with this statement?
Well, the translations are really puzzling. I can go into all of the different ways verse 3 is translated, and I am hesitant, because I don’t know how detailed you really want to get, but I’m going to do this for just a bit.
There are no translations that takes the literal Hebrew and uses the Hebrew word as it is. But, in going through this, hopefully we will see what is behind the words LOVE and FAITHFULNESS.
Notice verse 3 talks about love and faithfulness.
This is where it gets interesting. There are 2 words we’re going to look at from Hebrew. The words are CHESED and EMET. EMET simply means truth, or true. It can be used for faithfulness, but understand the point of this word is to tell you that there must be a certainty, a sureness, a reliability about you. When people see you and hear you, they know you not only speak the truth, but you demonstrate the truth. It means your word is reliable and certain. If you say you are going to do something, you do it. It means you are someone who is wonderfully and powerfully faithful!
There’s a huge amount of power wrapped up in that. How many people do we know who exhibit that type of reliability? We may say we have many acquaintances, but very few people we know we could call on and know they would be faithful to us.
Frankly, that’s one of the most powerful blessings and curses of the universal church! When we are the church, really practicing what God has called us to be, we are the most powerful institution in the world. That’s one of the strengths of our church. I believe we have a reliability and faithfulness to be there for one another when needed. When the church doesn’t work that way, it becomes a huge blemish in the eyes of the people within and outside of the church.
So, when we see the word FAITHFULNESS . . . we must understand it is really looking deep into our character. This is all behind that word EMET or truth.
Now the other word is LOVE! And the word in Hebrew is the word CHESED. It really has no English translation. It means loving kindness. It’s the same word we would have used last week when we spoke about kindness. It’s more of a covenant term. It can also mean having a COVENANT LOYALTY! That’s really how God relates to us. And it’s the way we’re supposed to relate to one another.
We are supposed to be people of the COVENANT and have a covenantal relationship with one another. A deep loyalty to one another. Our love should not be a passing kind of love, but it’s a deep abiding love which is based on God’s powerful covenantal love and loyalty to us. It’s the type of love which led God to send Jesus into the world for us, so that we would never be condemned, but instead, we would be saved by the gift of Jesus and His death for us.
This is so powerful for us to grasp. So, what does all of this mean?
My hope is that you will see what is really behind the words love and faithfulness. The more we grow closer to God and the more we exhibit this love and faithfulness, the more the world will see Jesus in us. And that’s the deeper point.
Now, Solomon goes on to say to bind them around your neck. In other words, put these virtues on every day. Put them on like a necklace. But we need to make sure that when the world sees this necklace, and they see who we are in Christ. They will look at us with certain expectations.
Of course, lots of people wear jewelry with crosses. We have people like Madonna, Ozzy Osborne and Katy Perry and many more who think they’re fashionable, yet they have nothing to do with Christ, and do not profess Jesus as Lord and Savior.
So, when we proclaim to the world we are in Christ, what are we really telling the world about ourselves? The world needs to see our love and faithfulness in action.
So, we keep our love and faithfulness visible to the world, and we’re also called to write them on what Solomon calls the tablet of our heart. The word tablet is the same word as the tablets for the 10 commandments. That should give us a clue as to how holy these tablets are that we write love and faithfulness on.
And we keep them in our heart. Our heart will be the place where we make so many decisions. You see, our minds tell us what’s right and wrong, it knows the law . . . but it’s our heart that says, “oh, go ahead and do it anyways! Who cares what the brain says!”
That’s why God wants us to write these virtues in our heart. He wants our heart to contain that love and faithfulness. For it to be seen outward, it needs to be contained inward.
The love and faithfulness we’re called to live is often found in your pets. Some talk about their pet, who is so faithful, who knows when you’re not feeling well, when you’re broken hearted, broken spirited, broken boned. Your dog seems to know when to come to you and snuggle with you. In some ways, that’s how we are supposed to react as well.
Then Solomon concludes by telling us if we do this, 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Solomon’s point is that you will find acceptance and be a person of good reputation, not just in the sight of man, but in the sight of God. And that’s the most crucial aspect.
You see, this is all based on our character. It’s the way we carry these virtues into the world. If we cultivate them and care for them, they will grow and the more they grow, the more the world sees Christ in us.
Go back to the beginning of the message . . . what’s in a name? When people hear your name, what do they think? Will it be positive or negative? Will some of it be that way because of who your parents were?
And, the power of establishing a good name is extremely powerful. We have people in our lives that, if their children or a good friend came by and mentioned their name ~ we would immediately trust them, because they’re parent proved their faithfulness to you.
You see, faithfulness is not “gutting up” the strength to actually do something magnificent. You can’t just be faithful one time and you’re done. It’s proving your faithfulness over a long period of time. Faithfulness means we’ve established a good reputation / a good name in front of people and most especially before God.
Faithfulness is like planning a trip to Yellowstone national park. You drive all the way to Wyoming, leaving the church, the most direct route covers 1,609 miles and is 25 hours of driving. Can you imagine making that drive, on the hope that the old geyser is going to perform that day. Maybe just once that day, but you don’t know when. You just hope you’re there at the right time and you don’t leave too soon. Now, what is the name of that old geyser? OLD FAITHFUL. How appropriate!
I love the note that’s on Google maps for Old Faithful.
It says LEGENDARY GEYSER ERUPTING ON SCHEDULE. Isn’t that great news! Old Faithful erupts about every 65 minutes. You can count on it. It’s dependable, it’s consistent. That’s great news when you’re planning your summer trip to see Old Faithful.
NOW! Can the same be said about us? As we move into the world, are we dependable like Old Faithful? Do we have a good reputation before God?
The goal in our lives is not so much to be successful, instead the goal is to be faithful. We can be successful without being faithful. But when we are faithful, we will always be successful in the eyes of God, and that’s what matters most.