Have you ever over-promised something but then under-delivered on the results? It doesn’t leave you with a good feeling, does it? People on the receiving end of such results are often understanding. “Things happen, there is grace for that.”
But what if undelivered results become the standard you regularly apply to your life? You dismiss your own actions with these same thoughts: “There is grace for that. It happens. It is what it is.” In general, one can quickly become unreliable and deemed to be unfaithful in little things. And why does this matter? Why can’t we all just live in a constant state of grace for each other?
Well, I guess because things actually need to get done and accomplished. We are called to be faithful with little things. If we want to grow in strength and faithfulness in bigger things, it begins by completing little things first.
There are two examples in scripture which ring in my ears at times I have been unfaithful in little things. The first is one from Proverbs.
Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot
Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.
Have you ever had a bad tooth? You can’t possibly bite on that side. You favor it and are so tender with it, lest you get that zinger of pain with one false bite.
Or an unsteady foot: you manage to walk well enough, until you forget your injury and you lunge to grab something. As your body buckles, it reminds you that you can’t bear weight on that bum foot. It is unreliable. You sigh that you are not able to move in strength.
This verse explains the lack of confidence others have in a faithless man in time of trouble. You may have their grace, but you will not have their confidence that there will be strength when needed.
Another example in scripture is given in regards to Egypt in the Old Testament. Isaiah 36:6 describes the reputation Egypt gained among the nations of old:
Behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed,
even on Egypt, on which if a man leans,
it will go into his hand and pierce it.
So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.
Egypt was known to be unreliable. The nation and the king had the reputation comparable to leaning on a flimsy, wet reed that would not only fail to support you in need, but would furthermore pierce your hand and cut you. There was no confidence that Egypt would ever do what they said they would do.
These are sobering descriptions which can hit too close to home. No one wants to be unreliable, but it can easily become our mode of operation if we are consistently too easy on ourselves. In recent years our culture seems to have been given a collective pass with permission to avoid hard things. But that is not what God asks of us.
What does God ask of us? If we want to be useful in the kingdom, being reliable and faithful in daily things goes a long way. It is part of the foundation of the church and our homes.
In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul describes how the kingdom of God is propagated and established: And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will be qualified to teach others.
In daily life, walking through challenges faithfully actually does build strength and makes one more reliable. It is in doing small things faithfully that muscle memory, strength, and increase is realized. And it grows. When given this increase, by God’s grace, we can become able to accept and be faithful in the next challenge too.
When we are reliant on God to carry out what we have been asked to do, it is his faithfulness which sustains us and helps us to live in integrity, letting our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no”. (Matthew 5:37)