From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 4 – The meaning and importance of faithfulness
The main person with whom we need to be faithful is God Himself. That is a major part of what discipleship is all about. Jesus is looking for men and women who are willing to be truly committed to Him:
6My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land,Psalm 101:6 (NASB)
that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way
is the one who will minister to me.
The LORD is continually looking around to find people whose hearts are completely His, not just partly so. That means people who are genuinely devoted to Him and determined to obey His commands:
9“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His……2 Chronicles 16:9 (a) (NASB)
Moreover, God looks around in every generation for men and women upon whom He can rely. He wants people who are willing to take responsibility for their fellow men and to ‘stand in the gap’ to plead for them before God, so that His judgment on them can be averted. However, such faithful, courageous people are so rare that in most generations God struggles to find them. In the days of Ezekiel God couldn’t find anybody:
29The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 31Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.Ezekiel 22:29-31 (NASB)
It is essential to remain true and faithful to God and to represent Him accurately, no matter how isolated that may cause us to be. Even if we are surrounded by wicked people, we must remain true to what the Bible says and be loyal to God and to everything that He stands for. Likewise we must be opposed to, and appalled by, everything that God opposes or is appalled by.
Behaving in such ways will certainly cause us to be isolated at times and even persecuted, but it will please God. Moreover, it will actually bring us under His protection and cause Him to ensure, when judgment comes upon those around us, that we are kept out of it, just as faithful Lot was kept from the judgment which came on Sodom.
Consider this very disturbing passage from Ezekiel which serves as a great inducement to us to stay faithful, no matter how much it may cost us. The passage concerns Ezekiel, to whom God reveals that He is sending angels to act as ‘executioners’ of those who have engaged in idolatry and other abominations. However, God specified that a mark should be put on the forehead of all those faithful people who had not engaged in such abominations and who had been appalled and grieved about them, as God was. Such faithful people were to be spared and were not to come under the judgment that was about to happen:
Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Draw near, you executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” 2 And lo, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, every man with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his side. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherubim on which it rested to the threshold of the house; and he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his side. 4 And the LORD said to him, “Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”Ezekiel 9:1-10 (RSV)
5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; 6 slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. 7 Then he said to them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go forth.” So they went forth, and smote in the city. 8 And while they were smiting, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all that remains of Israel in the outpouring of thy wrath upon Jerusalem?” 9 Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see.’ 10 As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity, but I will requite their deeds upon their heads.”
In the same way judgment is coming upon all people, including those amongst whom we live and work. It may not take the same form, and it may not come today, but God’s judgment will eventually come. Whenever it does come, we need to be counted among that minority who were loyal to God and who were appalled and grieved by the same things as God. However much that approach might cause the world around us to scorn or despise us, it will gain us God’s approval. Then an equivalent mark, whether literal or metaphorical, will be placed upon us. I want to receive such a mark and to keep it, no matter what difficulty that creates.