The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 37


“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6)

There is a stark contrast here between ‘most men’ and ‘a faithful man’. The first half of the proverb states that most men proclaim their own goodness. Please note that it does not say that most men are good. It says that whenever most men are given the opportunity to talk, they will talk about their own goodness. It’s all talk but no action. In contrast to that, the latter half of this proverb is not about a person who talks about his own faithfulness. It is about someone who in actual fact is faithful in doing good. A person like that is very hard to find.

A Sad Observation

This is the first thing we learn about this proverb. Faithful men are so hard to find, and that’s a pity. Why is this so? I think that we all know the answer too well – It is because sin has infected the entire human race. Sin does two things to us. Firstly, it gives us a false sense of our own goodness. It makes us think we are good when we are not. This can be seen in the prayer made by a Pharisee in Luke 18:11,12, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

Isn’t this how most people today claim to be good? They compare themselves with those who are much worse than them. Even a dirty cloth can look clean when it is placed against a very dark background. The only way to get rid of their false sense of goodness is by using God’s goodness as the standard. Only then will they be able to see that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) and that all their righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). That’s the best cure for the false view of our own goodness that sin gives us.

The second thing that sin does is to make us proclaim our goodness. For instance, when seeking for employment, many people embellish their resumes. A study has shown that 46% of resumes submitted by job applicants contain some form of false information – with 70% of college students saying they would lie on their resume in order to get a job. 27% of applicants give false references on a resume, whereas 40% give inflated salary claims. With such rampant deceit in job applications, is it surprising that many employers today have a hard time finding reliable workers?

Thus we have seen that this proverb is a sad observation brought about by our sinful nature. But Solomon included this sad observation in the Book of Proverbs for a purpose. At the beginning of the book he had already stated that all the proverbs are meant to instruct readers and to make them wise. Thus the second thing we can learn about Proverbs 20:6 is that there is instruction in it.

A Useful Instruction

Firstly, it teaches us not to be deceived by what people say about themselves – how kind, good, loving and considerate they are, or even how selfless, spiritual and devoted they are to God. Don’t be taken in by their outward professions of goodness and piety. Only time will tell whether they are really as good as they claim to be. So please don’t be too quick to commit yourself to someone who speaks very persuasively.

This advice is especially helpful to those who are thinking of marriage. Young ladies, please be wise not to believe everything that a guy tells you. Give sufficient time to get to know him well before you decide to spend the rest of your life with him. And if you find that he is not consistent in keeping his word, you must seriously reconsider your plans for marriage. If he is not faithful even in small things, what assurance do you have that he will be faithful to you in marriage?

The same thing goes for young men – Please make sure that faithfulness is always at the top of your checklist when you are considering whom you should marry, and this obviously requires sufficient time for you to check properly. Thus we see how useful Proverbs 20:6 can be to instruct us on making wise choices in life.

Another useful instruction we can gain from this proverb is to make it our aim to be faithful. Faithfulness is a good virtue to cultivate. Let us all strive to be faithful and consistent Christians, so that when we stand before our Lord one day, He will say to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21) In order to be faithful, we must stay focused on our calling in life which God has given to us, and we must allow nothing to distract us or to make us quit even when the going gets tough.

However, it is not easy even for the very best Christians to be faithful in all things. We all have our limitations and weaknesses. How many of us can say that we have faithfully kept every promise and every commitment we made to God? Perhaps God had spoken to your heart before through some message and you had promised to obey Him, to live for Him and to do His will. Have you kept that promise? I think that if we were to search our hearts well, we will have to admit that we lack faithfulness, and that we have failed to keep many promises that we made to God.

And so we ask: Is there anyone among men who has been absolutely, flawlessly and con-sistently faithful in all matters? Yes, there is.

Christ is the Answer

Christ is the ultimate answer to the proverb’s question, “But a faithful man who can find?” There is no doubt that He is absolutely faithful. In Hebrews 3:1-2 we are told to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him…” Jesus can be faithful because He alone never changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

The whole record of His life on earth, as given in the Gospel accounts, testifies to His faithfulness. To the twelve disciples who were with Him, the Lord Jesus was the great Master whom they served and obeyed diligently. But Jesus was also their Faithful Friend and Saviour, who was very much concerned for their needs – Calming the storm that threatened their lives on the Sea of Galilee, Healing the sick mother-in-law of Peter, and even praying for them fervently.

The gospel accounts record the most heart- warming instances of Christ’s faithfulness to those He loved: In Luke 22:31,32, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Jesus prayed for Peter, and not only for him: Jesus was always praying for all of His disciples.

Even in His last hour when He was just about to be arrested and crucified, He prayed intensely for their welfare. And at the time when he was arrested, He did not forget His disciples. He requested the authorities to let them all go free. Jesus remained faithful to them to the very end.

But His disciples, on the other hand, were not faithful to Him in His greatest hour of need. They all forsook Him and fled! And Peter, who had been the boldest among them to declare his firm loyalty to Jesus, denied Him three times in a moment of weakness!

After His arrest, our Lord Jesus was tried and then crucified, dying a long and painful death on the cross. But the faithfulness of Jesus did not end with His death. After lying dead in the tomb for three days, He rose from the dead, alive and well, and then proceeded at once to help His disciples again. He lovingly restored Peter who had denied Him three times. He comforted all of them, and then He commissioned them to bring the good news of salvation to the rest of the world, and He promised His continued faithfulness to them with these words, “Lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

Thus we have seen how marvelously faithful our Lord Jesus remained to His friends on earth in His life, in His death, and even after He was raised from the dead. The Good News is that this same faithfulness that Christ showed to His disciples is now shown to us today. Jesus still remains faithful to us. We know this through the wonderful promises He made to us. In Hebrews 13:5 He says, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

If you belong to Jesus, He will be with you all the way to the end, as He promised. He guards you and keeps watch over you as a faithful shepherd because you are one of His precious sheep. He watches over you day and night. You are His dearest treasure, His most precious possession, held firmly in His strong hand. How glad we all should be to have found such a faithful Friend and Saviour as our Lord Jesus!

A Blessed Hope

Since we who are saved are now growing in the image of Christ, there is now hope for us to acquire His faithfulness as part of our character. We can overcome our selfish, sinful nature through abiding in Christ, and by being filled with His Spirit. Galatians 5:22 tells us that “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…” The word ‘faith’ in this verse may also be be translated as ‘faithfulness.’ Thus, both the goodness that most men claim for themselves in Proverbs 20:6 as well as the faithfulness which is hard to find, can now be manifested in us as we bear the fruit of the Spirit.

The most fundamental principle of Christian living is that we need to depend fully on Christ in order to be faithful. What eventually counts most for all eternity is not what we have done in our own strength for Christ, but what Christ does through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us settle it in our hearts today that to be faithful, we need the Lord Jesus Christ every moment of every day, and that we must live in full, constant dependence on Him. May the Lord make each of us faithful.

Rev Charles Seet
Life B-P Church Weekly

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