The truth about being faithful

Published 6:00 am Sunday, October 16, 2022

By Charles Qualls

Think back over your life for a moment. Have you ever had a neighbor you liked so much that you didn’t want to disappoint them? Stories of the troublesome neighbor are all too easy to come by. It’s tough sometimes to share a property border with someone else, especially if they don’t share your same values. Or if they don’t care about anyone other than themselves. 

Phil was a different sort of dude. He and his wife were our backyard neighbors in another city. The neighborhood was full of rumors that Phil stayed about half-lit all the time. Turns out, it wasn’t just rumor. 

I’m not going to kid you. We did encounter Phil a time or so and could tell that he was working on a good buzz. Here’s the thing though: he never caused us any trouble. Not one bit that I can recall. 

He was an extremely nice guy. We learned over time that he would offer to help you with anything you could need help with. We even learned that Phil was so handy, I’m pretty sure there was nothing around the house he didn’t know how to do.

If they had stayed long, I would’ve done just about anything in the world for them. They were likable. But one day, he and his wife listed their house for sale. It sold quickly and some noisy college girls moved in. 

They partied like young girls who had a wealthy suburban Dad who bought them a house in the city and turned them loose. One particularly troublesome night, I remarked to my wife, “I sure do miss Phil and his wife. He stayed drunk, but they were great neighbors!”

So, I want you to get in your mind the person you have loved as much as you do yourself. The truth about being faithful to God is that it’s all about caring for someone other than yourself. If that’s a problem for you or me, we’re really going to struggle with everything that comes next. 

Our scripture this week was from Exodus 20. The much revered Ten Commandments are found there. Amy Erickson in her writing notices that these beloved Ten Commandments are framed like this. God begins by saying, “I am Yahweh your god…” and ends by talking about, “…your neighbor”  

That is, God starts by telling us to worship, remember and to revere God. Then ends by telling us to respect and care for our neighbor. If you don’t remember anything else I say here, then please just take with you this one thing. When the driving force in my life or yours is our inner voice that screams “I want…!,” then the driving force in our lives is not God. It’s us. 

God said to us, “I am the Lord your God.” That’s the truth about being faithful. This will probably be engraved as the epitaph on my tombstone one day because I’ve said it a million times. “The best news is that God is God, and you’re not. Which means you don’t have to be.” 

We live in a world where millions of people profess a loyalty and a love for the Ten Commandments. But I’m not sure a whole lot of them have actually read them lately. I’m glad that morals or ethics are important to believers. They should be.

But wielding God’s words against other people wasn’t the central intent behind the Ten Commandments. Faithfulness was. God wanted us to be faithful. 

Let me ask you this. In your company, your family or in your community, who stands out as being faithful? I mean, you know who is faithful and who isn’t. In a healthy relationship, the parties are faithful. They care about and give for each other. In an unhealthy relationship, they aren’t. God wanted, and still does, for us to live, love and serve in faithful ways. 

A truth about faithfulness just might be this. That in God’s commandments, the thing we learn the most about is God. They tell us what’s important to God. They show us the heart of God. Their goal is to help us be faithful. 

God knows when we are faithful, because it shows. Not that we live out our beliefs for show. It just does show when we do. Or, when we don’t. Another truth is that others know when we are faithful, too. Because like the neighbors, they are on the receiving end of whatever we do. Faithful or not.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.