Faithfulness: Resolved or Reluctant

Bible Book: Daniel  1 : 1-8
Subject: Faithfulness; Dedication; Commitment; Christian Living

All of us are familiar with the story of Daniel, and how, at a young age, he was taken captive by the Babylonian Army and sent to Babylon along with hundreds of others. Upon arrival, he was one of a select few young men chosen to be trained to help administrate Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. As a young man who was a child of God, this immediately presented Daniel and his fellow captives with several challenges to their faith and their faithfulness to God. These are the very same challenges that every young Christian is facing today. They are:

· The challenge of a secular education

· The challenge of sinful enticements

· The challenge of social edicts

· The challenge of the suffering entailed

We are told in Daniel 1:8 that, in the face of these severe challenges, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…”. In Hebrew, the word “purposed” gives us the key to Daniel’s greatness. It means “to resolve, to determine, to make up your mind”. Daniel made a thoughtful decision, he made up his mind, and he came to a decision in his heart that he was not going to compromise hi faith and the revealed Word of God.

The problem with so many in our churches today is that, unlike Daniel, we are reluctant to make any vows or commitments to anyone. We are a non-committal society. We want to remain free and untied to anyone and anything.

For example, many young people today do no want to be tied to another by marriage vows. They also do not want to be tied to the local church by joining it. They want to remain free and untied to any one or any organization.

We see the apostle Paul introducing himself in Romans 1:1. Philippians 1:1, and Titus 1:1 as “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ…” The Greek word for “servant” means “a slave or a bond slave”. A bond slave was one, like Daniel, who had made the decision to serve his master for the rest of his life. He chose not to have any rights and not to have any will but his master’s will. He had no plans but to faithfully follow the orders and wishes of his master.

That is a description of a true disciple of Christ. That, were are told by Jesus in Matthew 16:24-25, is a decision that every Christian is going to have to make if they are going to follow Jesus and find the abundant life that can only be found in the will of God.

We must all be honest and admit to ourselves that there are not many Daniel’s and Paul’s among us. We must admit that each of us is reluctant to make that kind of surrender of our lives to Jesus. If we have done so, we find ourselves struggling daily to remain true to our vow to Jesus.

Why is it that we have so many who are reluctant to make such a surrender to our precious Savior? Let’s look at a few reasons and see if we, too, are guilty of being part of the rebellious, non-committal generation.

I. The Reasons so Many are Reluctant and not Resolved

A. Lack of Education

The Great Commission commands the church not only to wind souls to Christ, baptize them, and bring them into the local church, but we are also to teach them to “…observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20)

Many think this means to teach the Doctrines of Faith. While it does include that, it actually means to first teach a new convert that they are to obey God’s word. Obedience is the very first lesson that a new convert is to be taught.

The church today seems to be teaching their members to pray for whatever they want instead of obeying whatever Jesus wants.

Some preachers are preaching “feel good” sermons instead of “do good” sermons. The result of this is that we have produced a church that his self-centered instead of Christ-centered.

B. Lack of Example

A person learns by example as much as by exhortation. Very few Christians in America have been blessed to have an example like Daniel, or an Apostle Paul to follow. We have not only failed to properly teach discipleship to our people, we have also failed to properly model to our young the example of a real disciple of Christ.

We cannot simply say “Do as I say”. We must, like the Apostle Paul, be able to say “…those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do…” (Philippians 4:9)

C. Lack of Experience

We must face the reality that many of the people among us that seem to have so little interest in following Jesus are so because they have never really experienced a new birth in Christ. There are as many foolish virgins among us as there are wise ones. (Matthew 25:1-13)

Jesus made it very clear in John 14:21 when He said, “He that had my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…” And, in John 14:24, we read that “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings…” We must boldly challenge the disobedient to “examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves”. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

There is a possibility that these types of people have been saved, but the greater possibility is that they have not had the New Birth Experience in their lives. My friend, you must be born again! (John 3:3. Also, if “therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away and all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17.

II. The Reasons we must be Resolved to be Faithful

A. Because we Belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:16-20)

When a man and a woman stand at the marriage altar and make their vows to one another, they say to each other, “I do”. They are no longer their own; they belong to another. Of the many things that is expected of each other, faithfulness tops the list. The same

is true for everyone that has taken Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. We belong to Him, and Him alone.

B. Because He Commands It (Revelation 2:10)

Jesus is not as open-minded about our relationship with Him as some couples are. We do not have an open relationship with Jesus in which He doesn’t care if we are unfaithful to Him. He is a jealous God who demands faithfulness from His bride. (Exodus 20:5)

C. Because we Can be (1 Corinthians 4:2)

Jesus never requires anything from us that He will not give us the grace to accomplish. There are many things that I cannot do. I cannot sing, so Jesus has never once told me to sing a special in church. However, faithfulness is something that I can do, or be, and He commands that I do that, or be that way. Each of us must always be faithful to do what we can do.

D. Because we are in a Battle (1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7)

There are battles raging today. There are battles over the inerrancy of scripture, the deity of Christ, the exclusiveness of salvation in Jesus, the reality of hell, traditional family values, and the survival of our nation.

The many battles that we are engaged in mean that all hands must be on deck. The devil’s crowd is always faithful to show up for the battle, and most of his victories are won by default. The Lord’s team fails sometimes fails to show up for the fight.

E. Because our Unfaithfulness Unduly Burdens Others (Galatians 6:5)

When we fail to carry our own burdens, that means that someone else must shoulder them.

(At this point, Rev. Woodard shared a lesson that he learned in Marine Corp boot camp that dealt with carrying a burden. You may want to use your own personal example.)

III. The Rewards for Faithfulness

A. A Full Life (Matthew 16:25)

Every self-serving soul will one day realize, as did Solomon, that it will have all been in vanity. Only the ashes of an empty life will be

all that they will have to show for the years of living for themselves and ignoring the will of God in their lives. Jesus promises that those who are like Daniel and the Apostle Paul, who were faithful servants of the Lord, will find that they have lived life to the fullest.

No one who has lost their will in the Lord’s has ever regretted it, but millions have gone to their graves regretting that they had NOT done so.

B. A Crown of Life (James 1:12)

Faithfulness is not only the doorway to the full life in the here and now, but such a life will be crowned in the hereafter. We must never forget that each of us is going into eternity and face the Lord. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in His body, according to that He hath done, whether it be good or bad”. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

We are all going into eternity, and some who have been last will then be first. Those who have been unfaithful to the Lord in this life will be last.

I believe that Jim Elliot saw the choice before him when he said “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”.

Don’t play the fool. Choose a life of faithfulness. Resolve to be faithful. No more reluctance!