The Stigma of Faithfulness

“I  am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” (2 Peter 3:1-3, ESV)

If you’ve been following Christ for any length of time, then there is no doubt you have experienced some form of resistance that has tempted you to draw back and turn away from His leadership. You may have been mocked, cut off, ignored, or pressured to quit by those you love, but you are not alone. Looking at the examples of many before us, we can be sure that from the moment we begin to pursue a wholehearted life of faithfulness to God, we will also begin to carry a stigma or mark of disapproval from those who aren’t pursuing the same thing.

“After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.” (2 Chronicles 32:1, ESV)

After king Hezekiah of Judah “did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God,” he was immediately faced with ungodly resistance (2 Chr. 31:20). The Assyrian enemies of that time aimed to not only conquer the people of God, but they sought to terrorize them into forsaking all trust in God. They would stand outside the city shouting, “Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand (2 Chr. 32:14)?” The Assyrian army made it a point to speak in a language that all of the LORD’S people could understand, so that the fear would spread rapidly behind Judah’s defenses.

“And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten them and terrify them, in order that they might take the city.” (2 Chronicles 32:18, ESV)

Fear is the Trojan horse of the Devil. Being the chief opponent of faith, it often comes into our hearts disguised with words that sound like wisdom, but it only brings doubt. In the Garden of Eden, the Serpent’s deception wore this same disguise causing Adam and Eve to doubt what God had really said. You see, the moment we lose trust in what God has truly said and done, we become vulnerable to the seeds of fear that thrive in insecure environments. The strength of our faithfulness is determined by how full we are of faith. The enemy won’t hesitate to speak in your language in order to deceive you with words that sound like your own reasoning.

“Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem? Is not Hezekiah misleading you…?” (2 Chr. 32:10-11)

When you choose to be faithful, another fiery dart of the enemy will try to cause you to doubt the godly leadership that has been placed in your life. The enemy wants you to feel like it’s their fault for the assault on your faith, and like it’s their fault that you aren’t seeing the fruit of your faithfulness, when in reality, he is deceiving you. He knows that if he can remove your respect for leadership, then he can prey on your pride and postpone your destiny.

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to your elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” (1 Pet. 5:5-6)

People are mocked and praised everyday for committing time, money and energy into things they enjoy or value. Anyone can be scoffed at for investing their lives into anything out of the ordinary, but the Christian investment is not only out of the ordinary, it is mostly unseen and eternal; therefore, it is that much easier for people to discredit. But take heart, for the commitment to walk faithfully before the Lord is a commitment to a good and noble life full of genuine blessings and eternal rewards.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matt. 7:6)

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:12-13)

Don’t be afraid of the stigma, but rather expect and embrace it. For in the same way they rejected Jesus Himself, many will reject you. The authentic and mature Christian will surely agree that the road to life is truly narrow, but worth it. It’s not a hard road in that only the strong and elite can walk on it, but it’s hard in that it requires humility in a culture of pride, self-abandonment in a world of self-absorption, and faith in the face of resistance. So if you’ve ever suffered for doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, if you’ve been mocked for choosing meekness, or if you’ve been rejected for standing up for His truth in love, then let this encourage you dear brother or sister of faith. Keep standing, keep pressing, keep trusting, keep waiting, keep hoping, keep praising, keep loving, keep doing good, and keep doing right!

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18, ESV)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Eph. 6:10-13)

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” (Eph. 6:16)

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