Developing Christian Faithfulness
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” (Galatians 5:22–23, CSB)
Have you ever stopped to thank someone for what they have done for you? We do it many times with people we care about. Perhaps someone came to fix something in the house. A friend came and watched your dog while you were gone. Someone who cares about you got you out of a bind. Your parents looked out for your interests when someone was trying to assassinate your character. These things happen and show our appreciation for what they did.
We should do the same thing with God. God is faithful to His people and we should show our appreciation. Psalm 105 is a psalm of appreciation. The writer wants to remind the reader how much one can show appreciation to God. Later in the psalm, the accounts of God’s faithfulness are recorded. But the psalmist starts out showing appreciation to God.
Faithfulness is a funny thing. We are not always faithful. However, God is always faithful but we are not as faithful, even though we are Christians. So we need to build skills to be more faithful.
Faithfulness, or fidelity, which is one meaning of the word, is a fruit of the Spirit but is possible only because of faith—our trusting response to God in Jesus Christ. Because our faith is in God’s faithfulness we can be faithful in word and deed and reliable in our discipleship. Our response to God in faith evokes His gift of the Spirit, and the Spirit makes us faithful.1
God does not need my appreciation. He does not thrive on it. However, like anyone else, God enjoys receiving appreciation for His faithfulness. This appreciation helps to build faithfulness because I am acknowledging that I trust God. I give God credit for what He has done in my life. The more I give God credit in my life for what He does, the more I will trust Him for what He will do in the future. So in a sense, giving God appreciation is the beginning of building trust with God. If I can’t trust God yet for the big things in my life, perhaps I should start by giving God appreciation for the things He has already done. The Holy Spirit takes that “leap of faith” and will begin to build on it.
Faithful progress in the Christian life is a necessity. We should get “better” as time goes on. This is illustrated by what many consider to be the greatest horse race ever run. When Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby, each successive quarter-mile in the race was run faster than the one before. The longer the race went, the faster the horse ran.2
The psalmist states five ways to show appreciation to God.3
FIVE WAYS TO SHOW GOD APPRECIATION
1. Thank God
“Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples.” (Psalm 105:1, HCSB)
The first way is to thank God publicly. Just as a husband or wife can show appreciation to their spouse in public, I can show appreciation to God in public. I can talk well about God’s work in my life to other people. My public testimony is a form of thanks, and it shows God appreciation in front of others.
2. Sing to Him
“Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works!” (Psalm 105:2, HCSB)
The second way I can show appreciation to God is to worship Him. I can sing to Him. Just as a husband might serenade a wife, I can serenade God for His faithfulness. Again, this serenade can be public. I can tell others about the works that God has done.
I might tell others what my wife has done for me. I might sing her a love song. In the same way, I can serenade my Lord.
3. Honor His holy name
“Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice.” (Psalm 105:3, HCSB)
Another way I can appreciate God is to honor His name. This is another way to witness about God to the lost people around me. Many people don’t honor God’s name. They shame it and defame it. To show my appreciation to God, I can take the time to defend God to others.
But it is not just about defending God’s name before the lost. I honor God’s name by the way I talk about His name. I can talk about Him with bitterness in my heart. I can share with others my disgust in the things God has not yet done for me that I had wished. This dishonors God.
On the other hand, I can talk about God with joy in my heart. I can speak lovingly about the ways God has been faithful to me. This is another way I can show my appreciation to God. Because showing appreciation and being faithful to God always produces fruit, even though it is not always apparent.
Here is the story of a man who produced glorious fruit in a very unspectacular way.
A century and a half ago there died a humble minister in a small village in Leicestershire, England. He had never attended college and had no degrees. He was merely a faithful village minister. In his congregation was a young cobbler to whom he gave special attention, teaching him the Word of God.
This young man was later to be renowned as William Carey, one of the greatest missionaries of modern times. This same minister had a son, a boy whom he taught faithfully, and constantly encouraged. The boy’s character and powers were profoundly affected by his father’s life. That son was Robert Hall, the mightiest public orator of his day, whose sermons influenced the decisions of statesmen and whose character was as saintly as his preaching was phenomenal. [By comparison,] it seemed that the village pastor [had] accomplished little. There were no spectacular revivals, but his faithful witness and godly life had much to do with giving India its Carey and England its Robert Hall.4
You do not have to be famous, wealthy, or even educated to faithfully abide in Christ. God expects every believer to live for Him wherever He has placed him in life—regardless of the circumstances. Keep on abiding in Christ—who knows who you will reach for Christ.5
4. Pray to Him
“Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4, HCSB)
Praying to God is also a form of appreciation. It shows that I need Him. I draw my strength from God. I seek His face for help when I don’t know what to do or when I feel helpless.
Three times in Psalm 105:3-4, the psalmist says to “seek” God. We have to search Him out. My faithfulness to God is dependent upon on my activity. So I seek out God. I search for Him. Prayer is an expression of my searching and seeking God. I don’t pray to God just to get an answer to a concern I may have in my life. Prayer is searching out for God. When I seek God out, He will find me. Jesus said so:
““Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, CSB)The very length of this psalm may be instructive. The nineteenth-century pulpit giant Charles Haddon Spurgeon advised that the varying lengths of the psalms are an indication that we should not have expectations of “brevity or prolixity in either prayer or praise.” Spurgeon grants that short prayers and verses are often best; however, “There are seasons when a whole night of wrestling or an entire day of psalm singing will be none too long.… The wind bloweth as it listeth, and at one time rushes in short and rapid sweep, while at another it continues to refresh the earth hour after hour with its reviving breath.”6 That Israel’s prayers were both long and short, that the investment in seeking God can be instantaneous or extended over a lifetime, may open us up to patiently waiting on God.7
I appreciate my need for God when I pray to Him. Lack of prayer is a lack of appreciation to God. God is not emotionally needy like I am. I may get upset because I am not being shown appreciation. Yet, God doesn’t act this way to me. He is there ready to receive my prayer. Yet, He is not upset, mad, or whiny about the fact that I did not draw upon His strength.
God doesn’t complain that I didn’t come to Him today. He doesn’t send me a text and ask “Where are you, Jim?” and “Why did you not talk to Me today, Jim?” God does not derive His self-worth from my appreciation. However, I derive my self-worth from His faithfulness. And I need to acknowledge that in prayer.
5. Remember His works
“Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced, you offspring of Abraham His servant, Jacob’s descendants—His chosen ones.” (Psalm 105:5–6, HCSB)
The last way I show appreciation is when I take the time to remember Him. I take the time to reflect on the good works God has done for me. He has done wonders in my life. He has passed good judgments of grace and mercy in my life. He has chosen me. Parents appreciate it when their child reminds them of the great times they had because of the parent’s efforts. God does too. He appreciates hearing the same thing from me.
All of these actions are ways to show appreciation. They are also the essence of our worship to God. It gives God the glory due to Him because of the works He has done.
“Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced,” (Psalm 105:5, HCSB)
Dr. Tony Evans shares the following story:
There are some wives who get an anniversary present every year. Their husband comes home from work, takes his wife out to dinner, gives her a great gift, and makes a to-do about that special day. But that’s it. The wife doesn’t hear from him for the rest of the year.
The husband doesn’t regularly do any dinners, no dating, or romances, but she can count on it—on the next anniversary, he’s going to be there with a great present and a nice dinner and he’s going to wine and dine her, yet practically say, “Okay, love you! I will see you again next year.”
Any woman I know would gladly trade in an annual anniversary day for a consistent 364 days a year that were faithful and consistent and full of communication, even if it only included McDonald’s. She’s looking for something ongoing rather than just one big thing a year.
Some of us get happy because we do one big thing for God a year.
We say, “Boy, on November 26, I did a biggie for God. I know heaven was applauding because I did a whopper for God!”
We’ve got those two or three things a year we do for God. At the judgment seat, God is not going to want to know only about November 26. He’s going to want to know about what you did every day over the course of your life.
He’s going to ask you, “Did you live a life of faithfulness to Me?”
God is not concerned about the occasional biggies you do. He’s concerned about the consistent obedience that you give. He wants to know whether or not we can be faithful. The definition of faithfulness is consistently giving God your best in what He calls you to do.8
Prayer: I want to show appreciation to You God, for the work You have done in my life. Thank you, God, for Your faithfulness.
1 Maxie D. Dunnam and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon, vol. 31, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982), 116.
2 Michael P. Green, ed., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively, Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).
3 Jim Erwin, “5 Ways to Show God Appreciation for His Faithfulness,” Psalm 105:1-6, 2 March 2015, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/03/02/5-ways-show-appreciation-god-faithfulness/, accessed on 2 August 2019.
4 Sunday School Times. Walter B. Knight. Knight’s Master Book of 4,000 Illustrations. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), p.318.
5 Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2003), 13.
6 C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 5 (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1886), 41.
7 James C. Howell, “Pastoral Perspective (Psalm 105:1–6, 16–22, 45b),” in Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Additional Essays, vol. 8, Feasting on the Word (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 7.
8 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 101.