Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
As a young man, I really admire men and women who have been walking with the Lord for many years. For some, it has been decades and decades of steady faithfulness. A few years ago, my grandfather passed away. I will always remember the celebration of his life at his funeral service. For over sixty years, he walked with the Lord, living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus. As a result, he impacted many people’s lives. I remember walking away from that service very moved. As I have been here at South for three years, I have been fortunate to meet many of you who live the same way. So what’s the secret? How do we be faithful?
Here in Revelation 2:10, Jesus writes through John, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This letter to the Church at Smyrna is a letter to hurting people. As Ryan mentioned Sunday in his sermon, Jesus doesn’t always remove the heat, but he does release the pressure. We have looked at how Jesus knows what we are going through and encourages us to not fear. Today, we find the encouragement to be faithful.
We find great hope in our lives when we have the proper perspective. In Christ, we have victory in the end. We can be sure and confident in this. Assurance is the engine for endurance. The reality is, future hope empowers daily faith. It is so easy for me to become consumed with my present situation and lose sight of the ultimate joy and hope I have in Christ. Our faithfulness should not be determined by our circumstances. As author Jon Bloom writes, “If the future joy Jesus promises is real and you believe him, there is no circumstance that can steal your thanksgiving.”
So what does this look like in our everyday lives? I really believe we are not called to just endure this life, but to truly thrive and find joy along the way. As I have met with older and wiser Christians over the years, I greatly admire their consistency. They have shown me that our habits can really change our lives. We are to be faithful through embracing the little things. Over time, we can actually change our mental pathways. In a way, it is like training before war, building habitual muscle memory. We cling to the security and identity we have in Christ as we live faithfully despite pain and difficulty. While this is far easier said than done, it is made possible through relying on the Spirit working in our lives, who helps us each and every moment along the way.
Today, take a few moments to reflect. First, think about all the ways that God has been faithful to you. Counting these blessings can help re-orient our perspective. Then, consider the areas of your life you are living faithfully. Are there any areas you could re-commit to being faithful? Close by bringing these reflections to God and ask Him for strength on the journey.
By Billy Berglund