21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.Matthew 2:21 NRSV
Faithfulness is a learned trait.
It is like a muscle in which the more it is used the stronger it becomes. You wouldn’t think about running a marathon without proper training [at least I don’t think you would?!} and faithfulness acts in the very same manner.
Joseph shows us that being faithful in small ways leads to the opportunity to be faithful in increasingly more impactful ways. Jesus points this discipleship principle out with three parables across the Gospels in Luke 16, Luke 19 and Matthew 25.
Small steps lead to larger ones. What we need is to consistently take small steps. Do what is immediately in front of us and clear. And trust that God will use those to grow us in ways so we are prepared for the next step large or small.
Back to Joseph…Scripture said that he was “righteous” before the events surrounding Mary and the baby Jesus even began. Joseph didn’t just wake up one day faithful. It was a lifetime of faithfulness that culminated with his place as Jesus’ earthly father. A multitude of faithful small steps prepared him for the day when he needed to make huge leaps of faith such as marrying Mary, moving to Egypt to escape Herod, and move back to Israel when the coast was clear.
So how can we begin to exercise our faith? Here are a few things that aid us in being faithful in the moment. Maybe these can form our focus for 2020?
Recipe for faithfulness in 2020
- Begin with clarity of the next step and not illumination of the final outcome.
- Embrace risk instead of demanding guaranteed results. – “Without risk faith is impossible.” Soren Kierkegaard
- Accept your lack of control.
- Avoid analysis paralysis.
- Remain humble through gratitude.
The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.Foster, Richard J.. Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth (p. 1). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
If you’d like more on this, here is a link to yesterday’ sermon.