Have you ever been in a situation where you were amazed by the faithfulness or loyalty of someone else? A friend who was there in difficult times, a boss who went above and beyond, or perhaps a pet that always sticks near. It’s an incredible feeling to know you have someone who will always be there for you and will not leave no matter what. It’s this ultimate security that we perhaps seek out more than anything else when choosing a spouse. This feeling of absolute faithfulness is something that continues to yield more and more benefits as the years go by and the bond strengthens. Often when considering this type of faithfulness in a spiritual light, we tend to look to the challenging aspect of being faithful to God in this manner. We hear lessons on how we should, and can be faithful to God no matter what the life circumstance we find ourselves in. Although, on the flip side of this notion, we see an immensely encouraging lesson on the level of faith God has shown and continues to show to His people. As Christians, we look to one day come face to face with our God, but for the time being, we should aim to match faith to faith with Him.
We can find a clear picture of the consistent faith God has for His people in the Old Testament book of Malachi. As chapter one opens, we find that once again, the children of Israel have turned their backs on God and deliver empty-hearted and wrongful sacrifices to Him at the temple. Malachi 1:6-8, “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that, you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil?’” In this text, we can see God trying to reason with the priest on why and how they have defiled their sacrifices to Him. Through the book of Malachi, God continues to call out the sin of the people and proclaim the discipline that is coming their way.
However, at the beginning of chapter three, God remembers His promise He made to the founding fathers of the nation. Throughout Deuteronomy 28 God creates the covenant with Israel that outlines the benefits of following His commandments and the consequences that come when they disobey. God calls on this promise in Malachi 3:6-7, “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. “From the days of your fathers, you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’” The key phrase we should note in this passage is when God proclaims, “For I, the Lord, do not change…” Even amid Israel’s staunch unfaithfulness, God remains ever faithful to His people and the covenant He enacted with them. He goes as far as to say that it’s on account of this fact, His unchanging faithfulness, that these people are not consumed! It is hard to find a better snapshot of the level God shows faith and love to His people than at the end of this passage where He states, “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” God is willing to return to them if they will only become aware of their treachery and start the process of returning to Him.
As Christians today, this should be an overwhelmingly comforting passage to look to as we navigate our relationship with our Heavenly Father. The notion that our God is this faithful to His people should be something that encourages us every day as we “…strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” Hebrews 12:12. God is not only faithful to His people in His loving forgiveness but also in His consistent protection from temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” God is faithful in the constant aide in our fight to overcome temptations in this world.
The love of God and the level in which He shows faith to us truly passes our understanding. With that being said, it’s even more wretched when people then try to take advantage of this love and forgiveness. Paul addresses this mindset of “free to sin” in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” This lifestyle of living in a way where every action is justified by leaning on the promise of God’s forgiveness is one that echoes the priest’s lifestyle back in the book of Malachi. Just as God recognized the type of half-hearted sacrifices those men were giving, God knows when we live in a manner where we take advantage of His faithfulness.
As Christians we are presented with an example of perfect faithfulness when we observe God’s relationship with His people. Shouldn’t this inspire us to match His faith with our faith instead of leading us to feel like we can get away with more? Imagine if someone in a marital relationship acted this way? Let us always remember the type of God we serve and be inspired to meet Him faith to faith. “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalms 86:5