Will you still be faithful to God ten years from now? Five years? How about this time next year? “Well, of course,” you say. “I’ll always be faithful! I would never leave God! After all He has done for me, I would never turn my back on Him. No way!” I’m glad you feel that way. But remember, many have become unfaithful who, at one time, probably expressed that very same sentiment.
I remember reading about a man who, after he was told he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, said, “There’s no way I would deny you, even if I had to die with you!” But then, after three times denying that he knew Jesus, Peter heard it – the crowing of the rooster! I can’t even begin to imagine the horrible ache Peter must have felt. The heaviness in his heart. Extreme disappointment. Such indescribable hurt! Realizing what he had done – he had denied even knowing the Son of God! (Matthew 26:30-35; 26:69-75) But, as horrible as Peter must have felt, it was no worse than the feeling that will be experienced on the day of judgment by those who, once faithful to God, have turned their backs on Him and gone back into their deadly world of sin.
Throughout the scriptures, Christians are encouraged to remain faithful. I think it’s fair to ask, “Why?” Sure, the answer may seem obvious at first. And really, it is. But it is a question that is still worth considering – “Why should I stay faithful?”
First, I should stay faithful so that Christ’s death will not be in vain. God loved me so much that He was willing to give His Son for me. John 3:16. Jesus’ giving His life for me was the greatest expression of love possible. John 15:13.
Prior to being crucified, Jesus allowed Roman soldiers to arrest Him, even though He could have summoned the help of twelve legions of angels. That’s seventy-two thousand angels! He allowed His aggressors to spit in His face. This must have been, and still is, one of the worst insults imaginable!
Jesus allowed the Romans soldiers to scourge Him. Scourging caused not only great pain but humiliation as well. The one who was being scourged was typically stripped of His clothing and tied to a post. His back was struck with a whip that commonly consisted of several strands weighed down by pieces of metal or bones. It was not uncommon for the flesh of the victim’s back to be torn to the extent that organs were exposed. Scourging left its victim bloody and weak, often near the point of death.
A scarlet robe was placed upon Jesus, an act of mockery toward His being king. A crown of thorns was placed on His head and a reed was placed in His hand. Later, this reed was used to strike His head, very likely driving the thorns deeper into his scalp.
Next, the soldiers led Him away to be crucified. Crucifixion was carried out, not just as a means of death, but as a means of a slow, agonizing, painful death. It was meant to inflict as much pain as possible. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross. Every breath resulted in pain as, while He lifted Himself to inhale, his wounded, bleeding back rubbed against that old rugged cross. His back would rub against the cross once more as He lowered Himself to exhale. His side was pierced with a sword. Finally, after enduring six horrible hours on the cross, Jesus’ earthly life was over.
Oh sure, if I refuse to remain faithful others will still be saved. Yet, from my perspective, Christ will have died in vain if I refuse to submit or cease to submit, to the will of God.
Second, I should stay faithful so I can live the very best life on this earth that is possible. Jesus said He came to earth so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. John 10:10. What comes to mind when you think of abundant life? A big house? A nice car? Plenty of time for recreation while on your way to a comfortable retirement? If so, you need to rethink your idea of abundance!
In Mark 10:17-22, we read about a man who went to Jesus asking what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus responded by telling the man to sell what he had and give to the poor. Jesus told the man that by doing so he would have treasure in heaven. Jesus then told the man, “take up your cross and follow me.” The man, having many possessions, went away sorrowful.
Peter, having witnessed Jesus’ conversation with this man, asked, “We have left all and followed you. What shall we have?” Jesus responded, “Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10:28-30.
Shall I take Jesus’ words literally? Is Jesus teaching that anyone who follows Him will own a hundred houses? Surely not! What then, is Jesus saying? Notice the last part of verse 30, “and in the world to come eternal life.” The blessings Jesus promised to Peter, and us today, were distinct from the blessing we will eventually enjoy in heaven. I believe the point Jesus is making to Peter is simply this: Whatever anyone may give up to become a Christian will pale in comparison to the blessings of being a Christian – even while living here on earth! Because Jesus died for me, I can live this life with hope. I can serve God who cares for me and answers my prayers in accordance with what is best for me. I am now a part of God’s household. I am already a part of God’s spiritual family that extends throughout the world. Live this life with heaven as your goal. While here on earth, stay focused on heaven! But never forget that the best life anyone could ever live here on this earth is the life of a Christian!
Third, I should stay faithful because of my influence. Influence can be defined as the ability to affect another person’s character, development, or behavior. Someone may be quick to say, “Oh no! Not me! You live your life and I’ll live mine. You make your decisions and I’ll make mine. But whatever decisions you make are strictly up to you! I don’t want anyone to ever say they did what they did because I influenced them. Not me! I’m not going to influence anyone!”
Try as you may, it’s not possible to go through life without ever influencing someone. We all influence someone. It may be our spouse, our children, even our parents. We may influence our friends or coworkers. We all influence someone!
It is possible to have an evil influence, as in the case of Solomon’s wives who turned his heart away from the only true God and influenced him to serve false gods. 1 Kings 11:4.
But it’s also possible to have a virtuous influence. Paul wrote that Timothy knew the scriptures from the time he was a child. II Timothy 3:15-17. How was this possible? He was positively influenced by his mother and grandmother, who had taught him the scriptures from the time he was a child. II Timothy 1:5.
Our influence continues even after we are gone. You remember reading about Cain and Abel? Genesis 4:1-8. Abel, having no doubt acted upon God’s instructions, offered an acceptable sacrifice to God. But God was not pleased with Cain’s sacrifice. Cain had undoubtedly acted on his own will rather than God’s will. Cain, out of jealousy, killed his brother Abel. Now look at Hebrews 11:4 – Abel, though dead for thousands of years, is still speaking to us today. What does Abel’s blood say to us today? Abel’s blood teaches us that God is aware of wrongs that are done to the innocent and justice will one day be done. Abel’s blood teaches us that those who follow God are often hated without cause. His blood teaches us that it makes a difference in how we worship God.
Fourth, I should stay faithful because of the judgment to come. Many, no doubt most, people in the world live as if they will never be held accountable to God. Jesus spoke of a day in which we would be judged. John 12:48. The apostle Paul spoke of a day of judgment. Acts 17:31.
No doubt one day we will all be judged according to the things we have done while on this earth. II Corinthians 5:10. Some will receive eternal life. Romans 2:5-7. Others will receive eternal punishment. II Thessalonians 1:8-9.
What can we know about the coming judgment? First, its time is unknown. Peter wrote that that day would come as a thief in the night. II Peter 10:14. Second, all will be judged. Romans 2:4-6. Third, we will be judged, not by the standards of men, but according to the word of God. John 12:48.
Who can hope to survive the judgment? Only those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and endure to the end. I Corinthians 9:27. Those who stay faithful!
Why should I stay faithful? The answer really is obvious. Stay faithful so Christ will not have died in vain. Stay faithful so you can have the best life possible while here on earth. Stay faithful because of your influence. And, most important of all, stay faithful because of the judgment to come.