One of the best verses that you could claim for the coming year-and for the rest of your life, for that matter-is: "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
Some people teach that this is referring to salvation. They say, "Well, if you always do the right thing and don't make any mistakes, if you're perfect, if you 'keep the faith,' maybe you'll make it to Heaven." That's not what that verse is talking about at all!
The Lord isn't talking about salvation, He's talking about your faithfulness in service, if you faithfully do your best to please and serve Him from now until the day you die.
The secret of being "faithful until death" is to be faithful one day at a time. You can only live one day at a time; you can only be faithful one day at a time. So don't worry about whether you were faithful yesterday or not, or whether you're going to be faithful tomorrow. Just do your best to be faithful today. The Bible tells us to forget the past (Philippians 3:13), and tomorrow will take care of itself (Matthew 6:34)-or the Lord will take care of it. Just be faithful today. Don't worry about your whole life! Don't keep asking yourself, "Am I going to be faithful until the day I die, so I can be sure to get a crown of life?"
Just be faithful every day, one day at a time, and you'll be faithful until death and receive an eternal crown of life. I believe that it is going to be some sort of an actual halo or shining crown that will enable us to shine like the stars (Daniel 12:3). So that's my prayer for you, that you will be faithful every day, just one day at a time until the day you die or the Lord returns, and that you won't worry about the future.
If you think about trying to be faithful for the rest of your life, that scares you, that worries you. That's just too overwhelming, and you feel that you'll never make it. But what about today? Weren't you pretty faithful today? Surely you did a lot of things faithfully today.
I dare say that you were probably faithful today. Give the Lord a little credit! I'm trying to get you to appreciate yourself a little bit, and to thank the Lord for how long He has kept you faithful already! You have probably worried about lots of days and events that are now passed. You have probably had many worries, nearly all of which never happened. And here you are-still faithful!
The secret of being "faithful until death" is to be faithful one day at a time.
Look at all the time that you wasted wondering about whether you were going to be faithful or not, or whether you were going to succeed or not, and whether you were going to still be doing your best for the Lord. All that time you worried about it was time wasted, because here you are, still loving and following the Lord, still faithful. Be thankful for that! You have been faithful-not yet "until death"-but this far!
So quit worrying about the future! Quit worrying about whether you're going to make it tomorrow or not. Jesus said, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34). Don't try to live the coming year in advance, and the year after that. "I wonder if I'm going to make it through tribulation, and I wonder if I'm going to be ready when the Lord comes, and I wonder if I'm going to get any reward or crown?" Quit worrying about that! Just keep busy today. Do what you're supposed to do today. Be faithful today!
The Lord has kept you faithful today, and you ought to thank Him for that! Too many people think that being faithful is some kind of a "good works" thing that they have to work up on their own. But that's not where faith comes from. Faith comes from the Lord. He's "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Faith comes from God's Word (Romans 10:17).
If you're faithful, you're full of faith. Do you still have your faith today? Then you are full of faith. Do you still believe in Jesus today? Then you're full of faith. Do you believe you're saved? Then you're full of faith. My goodness, you're so full of faith I don't see how you can hold it all!
You've been faithful today; you've been full of faith today. So why worry about whether or not you're going to be full of faith tomorrow? You may have trials and tests, you may get discouraged, you may get tired, you may make mistakes, but so what? You'll still have your faith, so you'll still be more full of that than anything else, right?
Stop trying so hard! Stop worrying about it. We just have to depend on the Lord to keep us faithful, and trust Him that our faith won't fail, because our faith comes from Him. Faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
Only the Lord can keep you faithful. Of course, you have to give Him a little cooperation, you have to pray and listen to Him, you have to read His Word, and you have to try to do what you know He wants you to do, but that's the easy part. It's His job to keep you faithful-full of faith, filled with faith that comes from Him. And if you don't have enough faith, all you have to do is read and listen to the Word. That's the source of faith. If you do that, He'll give you all the faith you need. Just keep reading the Word and trusting the Lord and don't worry.
You don't have to have faith for tomorrow. You don't have to have faith for next week or next month, and certainly not for next year or many years from now. You don't have to have faith now. You'll get it when the time comes. The only faith you need now is for today.
It's almost the end of the day and almost the end of the year, and you're still trying to do your best for the Lord. you still have faith? Then you're faithful. You made it through another year, so what were you worrying about? Before long, you will have made it through this day-another day of faithfulness-and then you can go to sleep and not worry about tomorrow. Rest in the Lord. "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness" (Psalm 37:3).
Stop trying so hard! Stop worrying about it. We just have to depend on the Lord to keep us faithful, and trust Him that our faith won't fail, because our faith comes from Him.
You don't even have to have faith for a whole day. Just have faith for this moment-right now. Just have faith for one moment at a time! When you wake up in the morning, you don't need to worry, "Have I got faith for today?" Just get up and have faith for each little thing that you do throughout the day. That's all you have to have faith for. If faith no larger than a grain of mustard seed can move an entire mountain (Matthew 17:20), then it shouldn't even take a microscopic speck of faith to keep you doing all the things that you need to do in a day!
So don't worry about the future. Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't worry about even the next hour. God will give you grace when the hour comes. He not only gives power for the hour, He gives power for the second or the split second-the instant! That's all you need. The only faith you need is what you have right now, for right now.
"Be faithful unto death," Jesus says, "and I will give you the crown of life." You're going to get a special crown, a shining crown, a crown that you can be proud of. Of course, you're going to fall down before the Lord and cast your crowns before him, like the 24 elders do in Revelation 4:10. Every time you start praising the Lord, you're going to forget all about that crown and it's going to tumble off at His feet. When you bow down and give Him the glory, you'll cast your crown at His feet! But since the Lord gave it to you, you'd better pick it up again and wear it. Your crown will show what you have done for the Lord, and the Lord wants the world to see it! He wants everyone see the badge of your faithfulness-a crown of life!
God bless and keep you faithful throughout the New Year and all the years to come, until you join Him in Heaven and receive your crown!
My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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