Steadfast in Christ
“Well you two certainly have acquired a beautiful tan on this cruise!”
We complimented a couple from Canada we had met onboard our ship during our trip to the Caribbean. It was mid-February, a time for people from the northern latitudes to escape the chill and snow and soak up every hour of sun they could manage.
“That’s been our major goal,” they assured us. “But we’ll soon be back to our usual winter pallor. When we exit the plane in Edmonton, there will be big circles of brown on the snow where our tans slide off.”
We all joined in with their laughter at the thought of all those temporary tans dotting the snow banks.
Lots of things in this world are temporary, changeable. Some things we wish weren’t so unreliable. We make jokes about not being able to control the constantly changing weather. But it’s no laughing matter when we can’t depend on or trust what someone tells us, what someone promises to do, what they guarantee won’t change.
Steadfast is an old fashioned word that applies to people and things and situations that we can trust. Trust they won’t waver, won’t let us down. While this is vital to the physical structure of a building or bridge, it’s also critical to a company, organization, church, or family. Those are the relationship structures that need to be steadfast.
Two of my favorite steadfast heroes of the Bible are Ruth and Joseph. They were loyal, strong in their faith, not yielding to the forces of evil.
Ruth’s mother-in-law realized that Ruth would never give in and return to her family. So Naomi welcomed her companionship and loyalty as she headed back to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:18). Once there, Ruth didn’t abandon Naomi but continued to love and support her. She remained steadfast.
Joseph found himself in many challenging situations after his brothers sold him into slavery bound for Egypt. But he steadfastly refused the enticements of Potipher’s wife, claiming his loyalty to his master and to the one true God (Genesis 39:7-12). Later he was recognized for his steadfast nature and became second only to Pharaoh in the running of the country (Genesis 41:39-41).
More importantly was the way God showed His steadfast love to Joseph in those foreign and often dangerous surroundings. Even when he was in prison without cause,“the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21). The Lord never stopped watching over him and blessing him.
The Israelites recognized God’s steadfast love and gave Him praise: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV) This steadfast love was shown over and over again to God’s people, even when they turned aside from following Him. Coupled with that love was His mercy: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end” (Lamentations 3:22 RSV). God’s mercy is found over and over again in Scripture, especially in the Psalms: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8 ESV).
That steadfast love saw its finest hour when our Lord Jesus showed His undying love for us. When the time came, “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 ASV). There He would give His very life for our sake.
The early church was a wonderful example of steadfastness. They continued steadfastly in prayer, in fellowship, and in following the apostles’ teaching. (Acts 2:42) The apostle Paul commended those early Christians in their steadfast faith (Colossians 2:5) and encouraged them to remain resolute in the expression of that faith (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the steadfast hope in the promise of salvation through our Lord Jesus (6:19). Peter warns against the wiles of the devil and reminds us that the strength to be steadfast in our faith comes from our Lord (1 Peter 5:8-10).
But now I’m the one on the faith front lines. Those admonitions and encouragements are for me and for all of us, especially those who are in a leadership position. I know my Lord Jesus wants my steadfast love, (Hosea 6:6) and He wants me to be always giving myself “fully to the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). He wants me committed, devoted, dedicated. He wants me to be dependable and reliable so I will respond to the life He gives me with love and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11), showing self-control and being worthy of others’ respect (Titus 2:2).
This steadfastness isn’t about my faith. The Lord Jesus isn’t questioning my love for Him, my trust in His promise to save me and give me that Crown of Life. I know this because He is the One who keeps me steadfast in my faith (1 Corinthians 1:8). No. It’s about the way I express that faith so I am “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).
Unfortunately when I leave a Bible class or walk out of church, that steadfastness can be like that tan sliding off to the side of my path. It’s not intentional, but it sometimes happens. I don’t always take that attitude of doing the Lord’s work into my home, my workplace. What I profess doesn’t always materialize in my dealings with others. That’s when I cry out, “Renew a steadfast spirit within me!” (Psalm 51:10)
Thank goodness my Lord Jesus is steadfast in His love and forgiveness when we’re not living out our faith. He is the steadfast anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19). Because we wear His name, He makes sure that what we do for Him is never lost or wasted.
And thankfully He has placed His robe of righteousness on us. It’s the robe that doesn’t slide off. It steadfastly clings to us no matter what the climate or circumstance.
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like Jesus August 2020)