His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. -Matthew 25:21 (ESV)
I’ll admit that I thought that coming to Africa would be a tremendous test of my faithfulness. That here I would find out what I was really made of. But what I have learned in my short two weeks of being in Zambia is that even here, on a mission in Africa, faithfulness is proven not in the getting on the plane and going, but in the daily getting out of bed and giving my best to the task at hand. My coming here was one solitary act of obedience. My daily choice continues to be whether I will obey and put aside my own desires, or live only by my own whims.
Faithfulness, I’ve begun to learn, is not a trait that comes naturally, nor is it a state at which you arrive. It’s cultivated- painstakingly, slowly. Faithfulness isn’t born in the moments that make for great campfire stories, but formed and tested in the little things, the everyday things that are easy to think of as unimportant.
It’s always the little choices that matter. Right now faithfulness for me might mean eating the pizza with mushrooms instead of picking them off because I know the students who are sitting at my table aren’t allowed to to pick off things they don’t like. Faithfulness is in staying out for another half hour with the kids when I would rather retreat to my room. It’s being on time to breakfast and cleaning up properly from dinner. Faithfulness is in dressing for the cultural standards of modesty, even on days when wearing a skirt feels like wrapping myself in a blanket on a hot day.
I’m blessed to have had so many great example of faithfulness in my life. I’ve seen faithfulness displayed in the ladies at church who have, without fail, packed up and sent boxes of food and clothes to missionaries for decades, sometimes without even having their work acknowledged. I’ve seen it in my parents, who so steadily work behind the scenes at church that even I don’t know the extent of what they do.
Here I see faithfulness in the way the teachers work with the kids even outside of regular school hours, without making it seem like a burden. Or in the school nurse who teaches, treats patients, helps in the dorms, and still finds time to give a sympathetic word and a motherly hug to the kid with a stomachache. I see faithfulness in the very buildings of the school that are testaments to the many who have come before me, building and improving to give us the beautiful and comfortable campus that I am enjoying today.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” – Luke 16:10
We don’t wake up one morning suddenly faithful. Like most things in life, we become faithful, or faithless, by a series of choices.
As much as I pray that I will be faithful to what God has called me to, and as hard as I try, I know I will fail. I’ll fail in little ways and in miserable ways. There will be things that I do and say that I will regret. I’ll break promises, say thoughtless things, forget to be where I said I would be.
But my failings make me all the more thankful that God’s faithfulness isn’t dependent on my faithfulness. One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
God is faithfulness. He embodies it and gives it expression. He is faithful to give us breath in our lungs and rain on the earth. God never wavers. Never doubts. He is constant and His attention never strays from those He loves and created.
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar.” – Romans 3:3
Let God be true. Let his faithfulness find expression in the way that you conduct yourself- in the little things and the big things. When you say that you will do something- do it. And do it to the best of your ability. Put your all into your job or your school work, maybe not because it is particularly important in itself, but because you will never be faithful in the big things if you don’t learn to be faithful in the little things.