My ten-year-old granddaughter and I had a lot of fun the other day, talking about fruit. We had just read the verses in Revelation 22 about the tree of life that bears 12 different kinds of fruit: “The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.”1
Faithful people are dependable and true. They’re faithful to God, faithful to the work He has called them to, whatever that may be, and faithful to keep their word and fulfill their obligations to others. All of these things are part of their Christian duty.
Faithful people are that way because they are full of faith. Their faith is what gives them the strength to be responsible. They’re full of God’s Word, which is the source of faith,1 so it comes naturally for them to do what it says. Theirs is a living faith, and it shows.2 Faithful people keep going through thick and thin because they know Him in whom they believe, and are persuaded that He will work everything out for their good in the end.3
When prayer is less sweet and easy; when love is less animated and tender; when the presence of God is less evident and less consoling; when even outward duties are fulfilled with less facility and enjoyment; then faithfulness is greater when maintained under these painful circumstances, and that is all that God requires.
—François Fénelon (1651–1715)
Being a Christian can feel like an uphill fight, because much of what Jesus taught goes against human nature. Look at the list below and ask yourself if what Jesus said comes naturally to you.
Have you ever thought about the choice Moses had to make when he forsook Egypt? That choice is what made Moses great. Solomon is known for his wisdom, Daniel for his vision, David for his psalms, and Peter for his zeal, but Moses was great because of the choice he made.
We read in Hebrews chapter 11 that Moses is included among the heroes of faith in God’s hall of fame. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”1
Jesus said that if we will “seek the kingdom of god above all else,” God will give us everything we need.1 If you work hard and do your job well, it’s in your boss’s best interest to notice and reward you with a pay raise or promotion. God thinks that way too. If we invest our time and energy in His work, helping others and living as He would have us live, God will notice and see that we are rewarded.
As a career Christian volunteer, I’ve spent my life sharing God’s love with others and trying my best to live my faith. There have been times, however, when I’ve compared my life with those of people around me and wondered if I might be better off materially if I worked at a secular job.
When you get an out-of-the-box idea or an opportunity arises that would be a departure from your normal way of doing things, your immediate reaction might be to play it safe—to shy away from the idea, or to hesitate to capitalize on the opportunity because it’s new and untried and seems risky. But if you wait too long to decide what to do, the opportunity may pass you by. At times like that, you need to calculate the risk.
If you were told that a brand-new palatial mansion was yours, bought and paid for, would you believe it? What if it was guaranteed in writing? Wouldn’t you believe it then, and wouldn’t you want to find out where your new home was located and what it looked like? Wouldn’t you ask about the view, the neighbors, the climate, and every other detail you could think of? Wouldn’t you start dreaming of the day you would move in? And how do you suppose that news would change your life and priorities in the meantime?
Well, someone has promised you such a mansion—Jesus—and He has put it in writing. “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also.”1 If you have received Jesus, it’s all yours—no payments, no taxes, no upkeep. Sound too good to be true? Well, that’s just the beginning.
Jesus praises people for their good qualities and gives them credit when they do well. In the parables He told, He commended the servants who had invested their master’s money well,1 and He even commended the unscrupulous servant for dealing shrewdly.2 He said of Nathanael that there was no deceit to be found in him.3 God commends lots of people throughout the Bible. He said of Job, “There is none like him on the Earth,”4 and He apparently told the prophet Samuel that young David was a man after God’s own heart, because Samuel said as much when he singled out David to be the next king of Israel.5
A Bible study on Hebrews 12:1
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which [does] so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV).