Christian faithfulness is only in Christ. There is no such thing as Christian faithfulness outside of Christ, independent of Christ. In other words, Christian faithfulness is all grace, all a gift. And it happens as Christians fix their eyes on their Savior.
Christian faithfulness is something Christians work out with fear and trembling. But this is to say that it isn’t an exact science. God’s grace is real and powerful and efficacious, but it takes our small obedience and simple faith and multiplies it, frequently in surprising ways. But because God loves grace and loves simple faith and obedience, it’s the sort of thing that we often only see in the rearview mirror. If you try to see your faithfulness now, at this moment, in order to be assured that you are doing OK, you are sure to slip and stumble and be discouraged. But as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we catch glimpses of what He is doing. And as Pastor Wilson wonderfully pointed out yesterday, the faithful will one day look back and see that they have walked over the heads of many serpents and lions. Faithfulness is often just a matter doing what Jesus says to do in what seem like small and insignificant things and then hearing on the last day: when I was hungry you fed me, when I was naked you clothed me, when I was lonely, you visited me. And the faithful will wonder: when did we feed you, clothe you, or visit you?
All of this reminds me of that famous scene in Matthew 14 when Jesus comes to the disciples walking on the water, while they are in the boat in the midst of a storm. When Peter recognized Him, he asked the Lord to call him out of the boat to walk on the water in the midst of the storm. And Jesus says to Peter, “Come.” And Peter steps out of the boat and begins walking to Jesus on the sea. Of course, seeing the violence of the wind and waves makes him afraid and he begins to sink, and Jesus reaches out His hand and lifts him up and leads him back into the boat.
It’s easy to think that the point of the story is that if we have enough faith we too may step out of our various boats and walk on water with Jesus. And people sometimes dream of doing great things for Jesus, “stepping out in faith” and so on. But it strikes me that this is exactly wrong. The point of this story is not that we are ordinarily safe in storm proof boats and occasionally Jesus may allow us to do great things of faith — if we will only believe. No, the whole point of the story is that the call of Jesus to follow Him is always a call to walk by faith. In other words, there is only water-walking faith or there is none. There is no such thing as walking with Jesus without faith.
In other words, we are always walking on water. Some are sinking and dying, some are crying out to be saved. And some are slipping and sliding and sometimes stumbling straight toward Jesus where He meets every one of us in the storm with an outstretched arm.
When you trust Jesus and cast all your anxieties on Him and let Him carry them for you, you are walking on water. When you discipline your toddler in love, you are walking on water. When you forgive your spouse gladly, you are walking on water. When you confess sin, you are walking on water. When you honor the Lord with your finances, you are walking on water. When you grieve the loss of a loved one in hope of the resurrection, you are walking on water. When you sacrifice to give your kids a thoroughly Christian education, you are walking on water.
Now, if you start looking down, if you look at your obedience, you will pretty quickly see the wind and the waves and see the impossibility of it all. How is my parenting going to amount to much? How is my life going to work out? How can this marriage float? If you look anywhere but straight at Christ, you will begin to sink. But this is my point: be encouraged. If Christ has begun a good work in you, He will complete it. If Christ has begun to give you small obedience, do not despair, do not despise the day of small beginnings. There is no true obedience to Christ that is not miraculous. Living faith is always a miracle. It is always glorious. It is always the result of a call to “Come,” and you cannot come unless He is the one leading you, holding you up every step of the way.
So be encouraged. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He has held you up all this way. He is holding you up now. Don’t think that Christian faithfulness is something you only read about in missionary biographies. Most Christian faithfulness involves providing food and clothing and friendship. Most Christian faithfulness is just simple faith and obedience. Don’t look back. Don’t look down. Keep looking at your Savior. All your goodness is in Him.