How does one define faithfulness? One dictionary defines it this way: “Adhering firmly and devotedly to someone or something that elicits or demands one's fidelity” (The American Heritage Online Dictionary). I wonder how many in our contemporary world operate in their vocations and in their relationships with such an understanding of faithfulness? Would we be witnessing such a rapid decay of societal moral standards, high divorce rates, high turnover rates in so many of our businesses, and so much apathy in our churches and communities if people did?
I don’t mean to imply, however, that people have totally abandoned the virtue of faithfulness. I believe it can be clearly demonstrated that most of us expect others to be faithful to us, faithful to their promises to us, faithful in their service to us, and faithful to their commitments to us. But, unfortunately, so often when it comes to judging our own level of faithfulness toward others, well then, that is often an entirely different story. We often just pay lip service toward our faithfulness. In fact, we often come up with our own definition of what it means to be faithful. This definition is a lot less stringent and totally removes the words “adhering firmly and devotedly,” replacing them with ’ “trying the best we can as our schedules and personal agendas allow."
This distorted view of faithfulness, I’m afraid, is not confined to our age. 3,000 years ago the Psalmist lamented: “Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak” (Psalm 12: 1-2).
God, for one, does not share this low view of faithfulness. Instead, He regards faithfulness essential to salvation. He says in the Psalm, “I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me” (Psalm 101.6). Jesus also says in the second chapter of Revelation, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10).
Why all this talk about faithfulness? The whole idea of remaining faithful in our relationship with God is being brought to our attention once again this first Sunday in June with the Confirmation of a few of our youth. The same question of faithfulness asked of each of us at our confirmation is being put to them as well: “Do you intend to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully?”
When it comes to our participation in the hearing of God’s Word and the reception of the Lord’s Supper, what exactly constitutes faithfulness? Is being faithful attending the Divine Service twice a year, once a month, once a week, or even daily?
The Lord does not play the numbers game. He is not in the business of keeping score. But that doesn’t mean He leaves it up to each one of us to decide for ourselves what being faithful to His Word and Sacrament means. After all, He has given us this command: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” As Dr. Luther has helped us to understand, this means “We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it” (Luther’s Small Catechism). Now, by any stretch of the imagination, is hearing the preaching of His Word and the reception of His Holy Sacrament once a month or even less “adhering to them devotedly?”
If something is precious to us, sacred to us, would we give it attention only occasionally? Would we feel no heartfelt longing for it? St. Luke gives us this description of early Christians shortly after the Day of Pentecost: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:43) The Greek word translated “devoted,” literally means, “to direct your heart towards something.” One Greek dictionary defines it as “to persist obstinately in.” Are you and I persisting obstinately in our attendance at public worship where the Word of God is being preached and His blessed Sacrament is being graciously offered to us?
I’m afraid, as with every other area of our lives, our commitment to our confirmation promise and our faithfulness to the hearing of God’s Word and the reception of the Lord’s Supper fall far short of the glory of God.
How thankful you and I can be that, in spite of our unfaithfulness, we have a God who in His very person defines faithfulness. The apostle Paul, reciting a regular axiom confessed by the early Christians, says in His first letter to Timothy, “ ...if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). God’s faithfulness to us, to our need for forgiveness and to His promise to save sinners like us, is seen most concretely in His own bloody sacrifice for us. From the lips of the Crucified to our ears come the most comforting words any unfaithful person could ever hear, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!”
Remaining faithful to our Confirmation vow is not easy even under normal circumstances and regular routines. But as you know, we now are faced with the challenges that the summer months present us. Summer is a wonderful time for special recreation but it is also fraught with the manifold temptations to forsake the worship assembly for the fun and excitement of all those outdoor recreational activities. This summer may be especially challenging given that most of the strict government pandemic restrictions have been lifted and the transmission of the virus has dropped to its lowest levels since last April. With this new sense of freedom we will all be tempted to fill up every free moment with as many outdoor excursions as possible leaving the worship assembly in our rearview mirrors. Let all of us, then, earnestly pray that our Faithful Lord would fill us with such a hunger and thirst for His Word and Sacrament that we will not forsake them but persist obstinately in our devotion to them.
Blessings to you and yours from our faithful Lord Jesus Christ.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul.“Therefore I will hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
“Forever, O Lord, your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations.” Psalm 119:89-90
Trinity Lutheran Classical School Seeks Additional Teacher
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Thanks be to God Trinity Lutheran Classical School of Miles City has been experiencing significant growth in enrollment. We are in need of another full-time teacher in our K-8th grades for the next academic year (2021-2022). We have been attempting to call an LCMS rostered teacher, but thus far to no avail.
Accordingly we are appealing to you for your gracious assistance. If you know of a teacher who might consider a call to serve at TLCS or, if not on the roster of Synod, would consider being contracted, we would greatly appreciate it if you could email or mail the person’s name, address, phone number, and brief description of his/her qualifications to us as soon as possible.
Candidates for this teaching position must meet the following requirements:
- Be a member of a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
- Have completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
- Be capable and willing to teach multiple subject areas: Reading, Writing, Grammar, Mathematics, History, and Science
Other preferences for consideration:
- Be rostered by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
- Have been trained in or experience with Classical Education
- Have experience in multi-grade classroom settings
- Be willing and able to teach Biblical Studies and Luther’s Small Catechism
- Have the ability to teach Latin
We appreciate your prayers and assistance. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
In His Service,
Pastor Howard Schreibeis