It was a touching scene in the movie. The couple were laying beside each other in bed, talking before going to sleep. She turned to her husband and with a look that seemed to penetrate his soul she asked, “Have you always been faithful to me?” There was silence as the man sought for the right thing to answer. In the movie he had recently changed his life and was now determined to be honest, to live in integrity. He knew the answer would break his wife’s heart if he came clean. The message that passed from him to his wife by his lengthy silence confirmed her worst fears. If he couldn’t quickly say, “Yes, I’ve always been faithful to you” there had to have been those times when he had broken the vows he made the day they were married. Finally, with tears in his eyes and in hers he said, “I will be faithful to you from now on. I’ve failed you in the past, but I’ve changed and I promise that such a thing will never happen again.” As they wept in each other’s arms and he pleaded for forgiveness and a fresh start, she promised to forgive him. But the movie went on and showed her struggling with forgiving him over the weeks and months to come. Her mind often wandered from where she was and in her imagination she could see her husband involved with some other woman. She prayed to God for help and asked Him to relieve her fears and help her to trust him again.
Finally, as the movie went on she was able to forgive him and move past the confession to trust him again. But in life or in the movies, trust is hard to regain once it is lost due to unfaithfulness. In marriage we have a rather clear understanding of what it means to be faithful. Through years of meeting with married couples who are struggling with marriage partners I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the time when there are major problems in the marriage unfaithfulness is the problem. Many of those times, it is physical unfaithfulness where one partner or both have had a physical, sexual relationship with someone else outside the marriage. Almost every time it has taken place the one who is involved with another person, when they finally stop denying what they are doing and come clean, will say, “I never meant for this to happen. It started just as a friendship. We started talking with each other and discussing our problems in our marriages. We just became close friends. One day I realized I loved her or him and that I had a bond with them that I didn’t in our marriage. It never occurred to me that having such a friendship would lead to my being unfaithful to my marriage vows and to you.”
While I’ve heard that speech so many times through the years I have no idea how many times it would be, I also realize that just as often the person’s unfaithfulness isn’t them having sex with someone else. Not long ago I was visiting with a couple who had been married for several years and have children together. The guy was declaring with all his being that he hadn’t been unfaithful to her. All the while she kept saying, “I know there is someone else involved. It may not have gone so far that you’ve had sex with her but you are having a relationship with someone else. It shows in your lack of attention to me and our children. You can’t wait to get away from us when you are home. Even when you are there in body you aren’t in your mind.” After several meetings together, he admitted he was involved with pornography. His unfaithfulness to her was in his mind but it was just as real. His fantasy had moved into their bedroom and he couldn’t enjoy sex with his wife for wanting it to be what he had been watching on his computer. To be faithful means that you are true to them. It is being devoted to your partner. You can’t split hairs with God or your wife or husband so that you try to act like Bill Clinton as he admitted oral sex but declared he hadn’t been unfaithful or had sex with that woman. You are unfaithful to your marriage vows when your loyalty switches from your wife or husband to someone else. You are unfaithful when you wouldn’t want your partner to see what you are doing or to know where your mind has gone.
What does it mean then to be faithful to God? Isn’t it the same thing? Faithfulness begins with faith. It is to believe in God and obey your vows and commitments to Him. Look closely at Jesus story in Matthew 25 about the master going on a trip and calling three servants to him. He gave them large amounts of money for them to use and do business with while he was away. Instead of using the word talent which referred to a particular weight of gold, think in terms of dollars. To one he gave $5,000,000.00, to another $2,000,000.00 and to another $1,000,000.00. They were all given big dollars to use. When you realize that the one talent man was given such a large amount you don’t feel sorry for the poor guy any more. The first two took their money and traded it until they had doubled their money. The one with the $1,000,000.00 took his and wrapped it up and buried it in the earth. When the master returned the first two were commended with the master saying, “Well done you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things I will make you ruler over many. Enter into the joys of your Lord.” They were faithful with the money he placed in their hands. They doubled it by means of doing business and trading to gain more. The man with the $1,000,000.00 returned his money just like it was given to him. The master didn’t say to him, “Well done, you’re a good and faithful servant.” Instead the master took the money from him and declared “You wicked and lazy servant. You knew I was a hard man who reaps where he hasn’t sown and gathers where he has thrown any seed. You should have at least put my money in the bank so I could have received my money with interest. Take the money from him and give it to the one with ten. Take this wicked servant and cast him into outer darkness were there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Why was this man unfaithful to his master? He didn’t waste his money. He didn’t lose it on some wild scheme. He brought the whole amount back just as he received it. Why then was he a wicked and lazy servant? Because the master didn’t give him the money for safe keeping. Just as God doesn’t give us abilities and opportunities just for safe keeping. God wants us to see those talents, abilities, and opportunities that are given to us multiplied by use. For one to be faithful to another they must be dependable, trustworthy and true to the one who we committed ourselves to. Imagine appearing before the Lord to give account for our life on earth. Imagine handing back to him our abilities and opportunities He gave us and saying, “Lord here they are just like you gave them to me. They are as good as new since I never even took them out of the box.” How would the Lord respond? I believe it would be very similar to how the master reacted to the man with one talent. It would be an awful thing for the Lord to declare you are wicked and lazy servant on which he could not depend. What God gives us to use, must be used not hoarded somewhere to hand back to him.
Imagine a day coming when a church meets the Lord and he begins examining the work. They offer him a nice wrapped up gift. As he opens they are all smiles thinking he will be a happy judge. What is it? It is the money they have saved for a rainy day. What do you think the Lord would say?