Saturday, February 24, 2007

May the Lord Find Us Faithful

In 1 Corinthians 4:2, the Bible says that stewards are to be found faithful. All Christians have received something from the manifold grace of God (1 Pet 4:10) and we need to faithfully exercise those gifts. The interesting thing about faith, though, is that you don’t exercise faith in regard to what you see but in what you don’t see. Otherwise it wouldn’t be faith. That is the point of Romans 8:24, “who hopes for what he already sees?” So, faithfulness requires us to do what God has for us to do, to exercise our spiritual gifts, even when we don’t see the happy results. Those results are the hope that is still unseen.

So, why stay faithful when you don’t see the results that you think you should? Why stay faithful when things seem to be getting worse rather than better? Why stay faithful when it is hard to believe? The simple answer is found in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” Ultimately, it is Christ’s faithfulness that grounds, establishes, and legitimatizes our faithfulness. We know that He cannot deny Himself, and so we can stay faithful, even when things seem to be falling apart all around us. We may not be able to see the results of our faithfulness, but with the eye of faith, and knowing the faithfulness of Christ, we can stay true to what God has called us to do.

William Tyndale is someone who had to display faith in the exercise of his spiritual gifts and calling. Tyndale, as many of you know, was the first to translate the Bible from the original Greek into English. In his life, he translated the entire New Testament and half of the Old Testament before he was viciously betrayed and eventually burned at the stake. As David Daniell says in his book, The Bible in English, “Every one of the thousands of English version round the world goes back to Tyndale’s fundamental work in Worms and Antwerp.” Now, you might think that someone, whose work was so successful in bringing the English Bible to the masses, and so influential in serving as the foundation for every new English translation, could die with the satisfaction of seeing something of that achievement, but that is evidently not how it happened. Again, let me quote Professor Daniell:

Tyndale had given the English people two New Testaments and a Pentateuch in pocket-sized English books. He had left in manuscript in the English House in Antwerp his English translation of the fourteen Old Testament historical books, printed after his death. He had heard seven years before that most of his 1526 New Testament volumes had been burned and denounced by Erasmus’s friend, Cuthbert Tunstall. The new Bishop of London, John Stokesley, was far harsher, and had restarted the policy of burning heretics, not just their books.

Even before his arrest he would not have had any guarantee that his work was getting through. A heavy curtain hung before him, through which he could see little or nothing. English-speaking Christians look back with rejoicing at the miracle of the English Bible. Every one of the thousands of English version round the world goes back to Tyndale’s fundamental work in Worms and Antwerp. His was a dazzling achievement. Of its success he knew nothing. He worked in faith, the existential faith which is the business of get up and doing it. As he noted in the Prologue to The Obedience of a Christian Man, faith in the God of the Bible is huge in its effects.
We may never know the extent of what we accomplish on Earth for the Lord. Rarely is that for us to know. And though most of us will not achieve the influence of a Tyndale, that is not the point. The point is to stay faithful because we know that God is faithful. It will be worth it all when we see Him. So, come what may in this life, may the Lord find us faithful.


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