👀: Original post.
My Dear Friend,
Faithfulness is a key character trait of every Christian who is prepared for Christ’s appearing. In short, the faithful will be taken and the unfaithful left behind. Consequently, Jesus faithfully taught us about faithfulness.
Luke 16:10-11 encapsulates His instruction: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” Moffatt’s translation is illuminating: “He who is faithful with a trifle is also faithful with a large trust” (emphasis mine). And the opposite is also equally true, “He who is dishonest with a trifle is also dishonest with a large trust” (Moffatt). So, whether we presently preside over little trifles or large trusts, heaven’s attention is focused on one thing: our faithfulness! God is interested in how well we discharge our responsibilities, not how large they are.
Here, and in every reference to “faithful” in the New Testament, the Greek word pistos is used. Generally, this word means “steadfast affection or allegiance to someone or something.” More specifically, it denotes these interlocking character traits: trustworthy, reliable, loyal, truthful (honest), and dutiful; and also believing, since all these traits spring from faith. A “faith-full” Christian, therefore, is one that is “full” of “faith.” So, when our faith wanes, so does our faithfulness. Why is faithfulness so important?
Jesus is searching His redeemed followers all over the world to find those with whom He may share His kingdom responsibilities. And in Luke 19:17 and 19, He promised that faithfulness, in even the smallest duties, qualifies us to receive new responsibilities vastly larger than our present ones: “Well done, thou good servant; because thou hast been faithful [pistos] in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” So, faithfulness in little trifles wins us opportunities to oversee large trusts.
Ever the wisest architect of godly character, God gives us a series of small trifles in order to teach us how to one day handle larger trusts. Every natural responsibility, even those we consider very small - a part-time job, a college course, maintaining the church grounds, babysitting, paying the rent on time - prepares us for larger trusts that await us in God’s benevolent plan. No life exemplifies this clearer than Joseph’s.
Let’s track Joseph’s trifles as they lead him to his big trust: serving the great Pharaoh in matters of worldwide, and ultimately eternal, importance. Joseph’s trifles began with domestic duties.
Genesis 37 tells us he faithfully: cared for Jacob’s sheep, shared his inspired dreams with his family, endured his brothers' envy, and carried his father’s messages - though for all this faithfulness he received nothing but hatred and betrayal!
Genesis 39 reveals Joseph didn’t let painful adversities affect his faithfulness. After being sold into bondage by his own brothers, and being sold again by Ishmaelites, Joseph remained faithful: to Potiphar, as his common slave, estate steward, and personal friend - refusing his presumably attractive wife’s numerous alluring invitations to adultery! And, after his shockingly unjust conviction and humiliating incarceration, Joseph, though maligned as a rapist, remained faithful - now as the subordinate of the jailer who was formerly his subordinate!
Genesis 40 shows us that in great adversity Joseph persevered in faithfulness. In life’s lowest setting (unjust incarceration), he continued displaying life’s highest virtues. Instead of faithlessly giving way to self-pity, he faithfully served his fellow prisoners day by day. Rather than neglect his spiritual gift of interpretation, he kept using it by explaining two prisoners' puzzling dreams with amazing accuracy. And when they “forgot him,” he did not forget God. Nor did he forget his commitment to be faithful to Him in all matters large and small.
Comparatively speaking, all these responsibilities were trifles. None, with the exception of the stewardship of Potiphar’s estate, were positions Egyptian men would have ambitiously pursued. Yet Joseph didn’t see his trifles as trifles. Committed, serious, and spiritually minded, he remained unswervingly pistos in them all, steadfast in his affection for and allegiance to his father’s God. More specifically, he remained trustworthy, reliable, loyal, true (honest), dutiful, and believing, a man “full” of “faith” in God. This kept him on track for his big trust.
Genesis 41 describes its arrival. Perceiving not only Joseph’s amazing gift of interpretation but also his equally amazing faithfulness, Pharaoh wisely committed everything to him: “Thou shalt be over my house [estate and kingdom] and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled” (v. 40). Suddenly, the responsibility for running the world’s greatest nation during its gravest crisis fell squarely on Joseph’s young shoulders. This was his large trust, and it could easily have caused him large anxieties. But Joseph stepped effortlessly onto this elevated stage and stood squarely in its spotlight without the slightest care. Why? Faithfulness in his previous trifles had more than prepared him to discharge this large, multifaceted trust: to the deliverance of Egypt, the rescue of all the nations, the saving of the Jews (Jacob’s family), the preserving of their seed from which the Savior would come, the encouragement of believers for the rest of time, and the glory of God for the rest of eternity. Note this towering trust affected not only Joseph’s generation and world but the whole human race for all time and eternity! The lesson here for us?
Our little trifles are natural, worldly, temporal responsibilities, whereas our big trusts are spiritual and heavenly in nature and of eternal duration. Our large trusts involve looking after the things God values most: His eternal truth and His redeemed people. His eternal truth is the Word of God, which He frequently compares to earth’s most precious substances (gold, silver, jewels) (Proverbs 3:13-15; 8:10-11). His redeemed people are His precious jewels and priceless inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:9; Malachi 3:16-17; Ephesians 1:18). If we prove ourselves faithful in the trifles of this world God will entrust us with His great, eternal riches - the ministry of His Word and care of His people.
So, what are the big trusts that await us in God’s wise planning? We don’t have time or space to name them all, but here are a few:
* The pastorate - feeding, guiding, and maturing disciples of Christ (1 Timothy 1:12)
* The office of elder or deacon - giving spiritual care or natural assistance to local churches
* The office of bishop - mentoring, encouraging, and guiding pastors as they guide churches
* The missionary call - bringing salvation and discipleship to the unchurched
* The office of teacher - rightly dividing and applying life-giving biblical insights to grow and sustain God’s oft-tested people (2 Timothy 2:15)
* Gifts of healing - demonstrating Christ’s compassionate power to heal and work miracles, signs, and wonders
* A vision of God’s biblical plan for the church - seeing what God wants the ekklesia to be and do, and how to accomplish that
* Understanding of our times - discerning the season we are in and what God would have us do in it
* The preparation of Jesus' bride - understanding how Christians are to get ready for Jesus' appearing and our marriage to Him in heaven
* Ruling in the Millennium - sharing Christ’s delegated authority to oversee the nations in serving and worshiping Him for a thousand years
* Ruling in the eternal world - sharing the responsibility of ruling New Jerusalem and the new earth forever under the authority of God the Father and Son
In all these situations, the care of God’s eternal riches - truth and souls - are committed into our hands. To stand strong under these towering trusts, we must dig deep and lay a rock-solid foundation of faithfulness that has been thoroughly proven in this world’s trifles, large and small. Joseph did his “digging” in his trifles.
So, be trustworthy in your trifles, so Christ will count you worthy of larger trusts. Be reliable, so He may rely on you for larger tasks. Be loyal, so He may be sure that, wherever He puts you, you will remain loyal, never compromising or abandoning Him. Be true, honest to a fault, always willing to suffer for telling the truth rather than tell lies or half-truths to buy a cheap, temporary peace. Be dutiful, doing your duty “as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), that is, joyfully, diligently, completely, and with unwavering regularity, as if Jesus personally asked you to do so. And stay full of faith - the only inspiration that drives pistos. And remember, the faithless one, Satan, will not take all this faithfulness sitting down.
When he tries to discourage you by reminding you how insignificant your trifles look, remember Joseph. I doubt Joseph realized that faithfully caring for his father’s wooly flocks was preparing him to shepherd flocks of Egyptian citizens! I doubt he understood that prophesying truthfully to an unemployed butler was prepping him to prophesy to a great king. I doubt he realized that his loyalty to Potiphar in rejecting his wife’s advances would one day win him the loyalty of Pharaoh. But in all these trifles Joseph kept his faith, and his faithfulness, and remained on tract for his big trust.
However tiny your trifles seem, keep your faith, and your faithfulness. Your big trust is coming.
Keeping faith, and faithfulness,