by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 28 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
The word "faithful" in the Bible comes from a word which means "to be trusted" or "to be reliable." It is a twin to the word "believe" as concerning believing upon Christ for salvation.
Faithfulness does not mean "not being unfaithful." Suppose a wife says that she is faithful to her husband. She may mean that she is not guilty of negative acts against her husband. On the other hand, she may not be doing anything positive for him. Faithfulness is not the absence of the negative, but the presence of the positive. For example, a person who does not come to church is unfaithful. He cannot excuse himself by saying he has not been to another church.
We should discipline ourselves to be faithful to many things. Some of these are listed below:
1. Duties and tasks. One should discipline himself to do what he is supposed to do. It is vitally important that one's task becomes his employer. It is important that we get up at the same time every day. This is especially true in the case of people whose employment and duties do not consist of punching a time clock. A salesman, a pastor, and other such people can be successful only as they discipline themselves to be faithful to their duties and tasks. Whatever one has to do he should do and do it well. He should designate a time to do it and then do it at that time.
2. Punctuality. In the building of character, one must learn to be punctual. This means he should be faithful to his appointments. He should not develop the habit of always being late. He must be dependable. This is one reason, at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, we start our services on time. We do not start one minute late, but rather, exactly on time. If 600 people wait one minute, 600 minutes are lost, or 10 working hours. If 2,400 people wait one minute an entire work week is lost as far as time is concerned. We have all heard it said about someone, "You can set your clock by him." This means that he is at least in one respect a man of character. How important this is.
3. Church. It is important that a child be taught to be faithful to his church. There are several reasons for this. Life's principles are being set. One of these principles should be faithfulness to the house of God. Many years ago I decided that I would go to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every Wednesday night. This has been my policy through the years. There have been a few times when I was ill, but unless I was very ill, I have been to the house of God and have been there faithfully. This cannot be overly stressed.
You recall what Thomas missed by being absent the first time the apostles met with the risen Christ. You remember his doubting spirit. There are many doubting, cantankerous Christians who would not be so had they been faithful to God's house.
One will do later what he does now. It is a good idea now to start the habit of faithfulness to the house of God. The sermon you need the most may be preached the service you are not present, and it may never be repeated.
4. Spiritual habits. I find it possible for a person to read the Bible all the time and not be a good Christian, to pray all the time and not be a good Christian, and even to win souls all the time and not be a good Christian. It is wise for a person to set a schedule for spiritual habits-a set time to pray, a set time to study the Bible, a set time to go soul winning. One should be faithful to these times and obedient to his schedule, and at the same time, keep a balanced Christian life. It is a good idea to sit down and list all the things that the Christian is supposed to do. Then find time in the schedule for them, and observe the schedule with all diligence and faithfulness.
5. Principles. Our loyalties should be to principles and not to institutions. Far too many of us have pledged our faithfulness and loyalty to denominations, churches, schools, etc. They change so gradually that we do not notice it; therefore, we change with them. The day comes when both institution and Christian have changed and neither realizes it. The landmark has been moved so gradually that, as is the case with the hands on the clock, it was not noticed. This is the reason we should be faithful to principles. When the institution goes outside our principles, we should hold the principles and discard the institution unless we can bring it back in proper focus with right principles.
For example, I have taught my boy, David, to protect his sisters. A few years ago I saw him beating up on a little kid. I had told him not to fight. I went over, jerked him off the kid, and said, "What are you doing?"
He looked at me and said, "He called my sister a dirty name."
I said, "Then go to it. You are doing fine."
In these days of pacifism and people who fight capital punishment, laugh at discipline, disregard law and order, and disrespect authority, how we need a generation of people who are loyal and faithful to principle!
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion,
warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY