This fall, we’re taking our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders through a series called Knowing God Better. Throughout this series, we’re looking at what the Bible has to say about the character of God. The goal of this study is not simply to learn facts about God. Rather, the goal is to understand God in a way that deepens our appreciation and love for Him, that deepens our relationship with Him. The goal is to understand God in a way that motivates us to become more like Him.
Let’s take an imaginary trip together. Let’s say that we’re all going to pile on a bus to take a cross-country trip. On this trip we’re going to see some of the most recognizable sites in the nation. For the first stop on our trip, we’re going to go see one of the most recognizable building in the world — the Empire State Building in New York City.
So, to begin our journey, we’ll start off where our church is located in Lafayette and travel 772 miles to New York City.
But that’s not the only place we’re going to visit. For the second stop on our journey, we’ll be headed south from New York to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
So, from New York, we’ll get back on the road and travel 1106 miles to Orlando, Florida to visit Disneyworld.
But that’s not the end of our trip. We’ve got another site to visit. We’re going to travel from the Magic Kingdom to a place where creating magic is a integral part of every union job.
We’ll travel from Orlando 2525 miles across the country until we finally reach Hollywood, California.
And once we’ve seen the sights and starred in a movie or two, we’ll get back on the road en route to one of the nation’s most recognizable sights.
That, of course, is the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in beautiful downtown Lafayette, Indiana. We’ve got to head back home. So, we’ll travel the 2128 miles from Hollywood all the way back to Lafayette.
If we add up all of the miles we’re going to travel, it totals 6533 miles. But before we leave, we have an important decision to make. We have to decide what kind of bus we’re going to travel in. We need a bus that’s going to be able to travel of 6533 miles. Just think how bad it would be if our bus broke down out in the middle of nowhere and we had to push it or have it towed to the nearest town.
So, we need to make sure that we’ve got reliable transportation, and we’ve been able to narrow the choices down to two options.
- Option 1: A brand new touring bus. It comes complete with reclining seats, air conditioning and heating, DVD players and monitors located throughout the bus, an on-board restroom, and plenty of storage for everyone’s luggage. In addition, a team of mechanics has inspected every square inch of the bus and found it to be in perfect condition.
- Option #2: A school bus built in the 1970’s. It features vinyl bench seats, severe rust damage, no air conditioning, no storage space, shattered windows, a faulty transmission, and plenty of acorns— because for a time it was also home to a family of squirrels.
What are some words you would use to describe the first bus? Dependable? Trustworthy? Safe? What about the second bus? How about the opposite of dependable, trustworthy, and safe? If we were to attempt our trip in that second bus, I’m afraid that we’d find ourselves broken down on the highway several times on our trip—if we were even able to get started at all.
There’s a word, a characteristic, we don’t often think of when we talk about things like cars and buses. But this characteristic is actually the exact thing you ought to be looking for when picking out a vehicle because without this characteristic, your vehicle won’t be worth much. It’s a characteristic that should be very important to us not only because it will keep us safe on cross-country trip but, more importantly, because it’s very important to God. In fact, it’s a word the Bible uses time and time again to describe the character of God, and it’s a word that God uses to describe what He’s looking for in us. The word is faithfulness.
Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
God is faithful. And he has demonstrated his faithfulness to us in countless ways. His faithfulness is seen through each new season, each new day, and each new breath. For the people to whom the words of Deuteronomy 7:9 were originally spoken, God had demonstrated his faithfulness very powerfully.
The Israelites had been slaves for 400 years in the land of Egypt when God finally delivered them. He rescued them from Pharaoh and his army. He parted the waters of the Red Sea and made it possible for the Israelites to cross on dry ground. Despite the faithlessness of the the Israelites who had chosen to reject God throughout their travels in the wilderness, God remained faithful. He provided them with food and water. He protected them from their enemies. He even prolonged the life of their footwear. And ultimately, He brought them to into the land He had promised them—a land flowing with milk and honey.
As they stood on the doorstep of their new home, faced with excitement and trepidation the imminent prospect of armed conflict with the various tribes and nations who resided in the land, God could have reminded them of any number of truths to prepare them for the battles ahead. But one of the most significant things He chose to emphasize was His own faithfulness.
He reminded them that He had made a promise –a covenant– to their ancestor Abraham. He had promised Abraham and his descendants that they would possess the very land that they were to about to enter. God reminded the Israelites that he doesn’t forget His promises, even to the generations yet unborn at the time His promise was made.
He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations.
Faithfulness Motivates Trust
You can probably think of some people in your life that you would describe as faithful. You might describe them using words like consistent, loyal, steady, or dependable. You can count on a person who is faithful. They keep their word. If they tell you they’re going to be somewhere, they’ll be there. If they tell you they’re going to do something, they’ll do it. If a faithful person makes a promise and then finds out there’s more to keeping the promise than he originally thought, he’ll keep his word anyway.
In understanding the breadth of a concept, it’s sometimes it’s helpful to think about it’s opposite. Think about the people in your life who aren’t trustworthy. How would you describe them? Undependable? Suspicious? Dangerous? They sound a lot like a broken-down, 1970′s school bus, don’t they? Thankfully, God isn’t like that.
When we say that God is faithful, we mean that we can trust Him to keep His promises. There are many places in Scripture where we see that God faithfully kept the promises that He made to certain individuals. And while there are other promises that God hasn’t fulfilled yet, we can trust that He will fulfill those promises someday because He is faithful.
It’s not an easy thing to trust someone else. But if you know the character of the person asking for your trust— if you know that person is faithful— then trust becomes a whole lot easier. We have a God who will never let us fall, who faithfully keeps every promise He has ever made. And because He is faithful, He asks us to be faithful both to Him and to those around us.
We need to strive to be the kind of person that God considers faithful— the kind of person He trusts and depends on. And that’s not easy because it involves making right choices on a consistent basis. It involves making right choices when things go well and when things don’t go well. It means making right choices when we’re feeling good and when we’re not. It means making right choices when it’s the popular thing to do and when it’s the unpopular thing to do. It means making right choices in all circumstances and conditions because choosing to do right pleases our God. That’s what God is calling us to do. That’s how God is calling us to live.
For Further Discussion
- Based on what you’ve read, how would you define faithfulness?
- What are some ways God has demonstrated His faithfulness in Scripture?
- What are some ways God has demonstrated His faithfulness to you?
- How would being an faithful person affect your life and the lives of those around you?
- How would being an unfaithful person affect your life and the lives of those around you?
- What are some ways that we can demonstrate faithfulness to God?