What happens when only one person in a relationship is faithful? The one who’s committed might be able to hold some kind of relationship together, but there won’t be the sort of closeness and trust they long for. There will be heartbreak, conflict, and disunity.
It’s pretty obvious that faithfulness has to go both ways for human relationships to work well. And we don’t approve of the sort of people who would say, “You have to be faithful to me but I don’t have to be faithful to you.” But have we ever thought something similar in our relationship with God?
We expect God to be faithful to us and keep His promises to shower us with blessings, never forsake us, and welcome us into eternal life. But do we expect ourselves to be faithful in return? We should.
God Keeps All His Promises
God is faithful. He is Ehyeh asher Ehyeh — I AM who I AM. We can count on Him existing forever as Himself, the faithful one who does not change (Mal. 3:6).
If his children forsake my law, and don’t walk in my ordinances; if they break my statutes, and don’t keep my commandments; then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not completely take my loving kindness from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail. I will not break my covenant, nor alter what my lips have uttered. (Ps. 89:30-34, WEB)
God is never going to break the promises He’s made or stop trying to restore broken relationships. But His promises include consequences if we are unfaithful to Him. We can’t just go about living however we want and assume it doesn’t matter to God. Our actions affect our relationship with God and can even destroy it, though His commitment doesn’t change.
We Have To Love Him Back
We can’t be in a true relationship with God if He’s the only one trying to make things work. Just as you want the people you love to love you back and demonstrate their love through their actions, so does God want that from us. He’ll love us whether or not we love Him, but we can only have a close relationship with Him if we’re doing our part.
Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.” (John 14:23, WEB)
Loving Jesus results in faithful actions. If we’re not keeping His words and walking in His footsteps, then we don’t have a relationship with Him. And people who do claim to have fellowship with Jesus yet don’t follow His teachings are liars (1 John 1:6).
Keep Returning To Faithfulness
Faithfulness must go both ways. God promises faithfulness and He’s seeking relationship with people “whose heart is fully devoted to him” (2 Chr. 16:9, LEB). He highly values those who promise to be faithful to Him and then follow-through on that promise.
Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. (Heb 11:6, WEB)
God knows we’re human. He doesn’t expect faithfulness from us in the exact same way that He gives faithfulness to us. But He does expect that when we miss the mark we’ll come back and recommit ourselves to Him.
We want a God who is faithful to us. But we don’t always want the hard parts of the relationship — the things that rest on us. Yet faithfulness on our parts is essential if we want to have a relationship with the faithful One who is always calling for us to come back to Him.
Will He Find Faith?
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus shares a parable to teach that we “must always pray and not give up.” He teaches that God hears us and can be relied on to respond (Luke 18:1-6). Then He asks some questions.
Won’t God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them? I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, WEB)
This looks to me like Jesus is telling us He and His Father are faithful, but He’s not sure His people will be. I have to assume this is an honest question on His part: “When I come back will there be faithful people on earth?”
He is going to come back. That’s a promise. But He wonders what He’ll find. Will there be people who are eagerly awaiting Him? People who’ve been following Him and glorifying His Father by producing good fruits (John 15:8)? People who were faithful to the point of death (Heb. 11:32-40; Rev. 2:10)?
I don’t know whether or not we’re going to be alive when Jesus comes back looking for faithful people. But we have to live as if He’ll be back tomorrow, and we have to pass on faithfulness to the next generation as if He’ll tarry another few decades or more.