What does God Say about Being Faithful in His Word?

Published on 4 April 2024 at 23:03

I would like to share with you a passage that I consider important, and that has a teaching purpose for all of us. What could sometimes prevent us from growing and advancing in the Kingdom of Heaven? I am saying this to those who desire to grow, are at least seeking God for a solution in their lives, or would like to know Him more.

The passage I want to share with you is found in the gospel of Luke 16:10.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10)

Here, we see that when Jesus was saying this, He was talking particularly to the religious group from that time, known as the Pharisees. They had some particular qualities and were known for their zeal for God and certain traditions that they were observing. Nevertheless, Jesus was often in discussion with them. This teaching came after telling them the parable of the Unjust Steward. This particular passage cited above was referring to material riches and money. My intention is not to take it out of its context. Still, when talking of what is least, we can think of anything we may consider as not so important. Even though Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, this teaching is actually for us today.

There are things, as we said, that we don’t consider as something important, but they are important in God's eyes. I am talking of things that have to do with the teachings we find in His word. Let's talk of stealing, for example. What was Jesus referring to when talking about stealing? Did He talk of a particular object or quantity, or just spoke of the action in itself? Of course, He was talking about the action. Someone might think that when talking of stealing, we talk of a person robbing a great sum of money or taking advantage of a weak person. Yes, of course, that is true, but stealing also has to do with taking five dollars only. This is something that we may consider as something least or unimportant. The same example could be given with a single lie and anything else. It might be a small lie to a single person and not a great deceit that you tell to a great audience. These are things that we consider not so important, and sometimes, we don't even think of them or consider them as something to pay attention to or be careful about. It happens also to people who know the word of God. They don’t consider comparing those things with what the word says because they don’t consider them as important. Even though not important in our eyes, they might be important in God’s eyes. As shocking as it might sound, God measures sins equally. He doesn’t make a difference between them. At heaven's gates, He won't ask you if you did great or small sins. He will ask you if you accepted His son's sacrifice. The Bible says that whoever knows God doesn’t persevere in sin. It means that after accepting Christ, you might still sin, but your attitude toward that will be different, and you will be in the process of sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Hebrews 12:10, Hebrews 12:14). With this, I am not promoting a man-made perfection which is expressed in all outward details and appearances. We are all sinners, and we are not perfect. I am talking of the attitude and the desire we have to obey God in those least but essential things that are shown in His word. God will not look if you polished well your shoes for the Sunday service or at that coffee stain on your Bible, or if you cuffed well your pants. He will not condemn you for these things, and we also mustn’t condemn ourselves for that. He will not look at those things but rather at the small lie you told your friend or the other thing you took without permission from your workplace. These last examples are essential parts of God’s word, which, no matter how big or small they are, must be obeyed and respected. These things have to do with what happens in the person's heart. They come out of the heart (Matthew 15:17-19). They are not only about something that a person manifests and does on the outside, which might be about certain other things the Bible also commands us to do.

I am not referring to small mistakes we make without paying attention. This could happen, and after seeing that we were distracted, we will try to be more careful the next time. I am referring to things we know and do, but we just don’t consider them important because we often look at the size of something, and that is the way we measure how wrong it is. God sees it in a different way, and He will look at our attitude toward those things. Surely, we will sin in those and other things, but He will see if we did it carelessly or if we tried to avoid it.

Let’s see the context in which Jesus pronounced the phrase, saying that he who is unjust in what is least is also unjust in what is much. He said this to the Pharisees after telling them the parable of the unjust steward. Through that parable, He wanted to tell them they had to use material riches such as money for God’s kingdom and not be selfish with them. That’s why, after the parable, He told them to be faithful in what is least. We know this does not refer to money only but to anything someone might consider as something least and small. The Pharisees were very careful with each detail, from the way they were dressing to the least of the traditions and the tithe they gave. They were even tithing on such small things as the mint, the anise, and the cummin. When someone looks at that, they would say that they were very careful in all the least things and details and were perfect. It wasn’t that way in God's eyes, though. Jesus often rebuked them, and one of the times, He told them:  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

By this, we see that they wanted to look perfect by observing certain details but neglected what was great, such as justice, faith, and mercy. They had different opinions about what was the least and the details. Usually, someone observes all the details in order to be perfect. The difference is that they kept and observed the details that were manifested on the outside, such as how they dressed, how they were tithing, etc. They did that more to be seen and not for God. There wasn’t a right criteria for what was more valued and important in God's eyes. Even some of the commandments they were observing were invented by them and added to the law of Moses. Those were things that were not really important in God’s eyes because they had to do just with appearance.  Meanwhile God also wants to work there but from the inside out and not only from the outside. He told them: “…first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26). There are things that are important in His eyes, but they cannot be changed with outward efforts, only. Let's take cursing as an example. We can make an effort to stop doing it by changing our vocabulary and way of talking, but the only and most effective way will be by changing our hearts, which could be done only by His grace and power. We will always make an effort not to say the wrong word, but when our hearts are clean, it will be much easier. This is also His desire – to change us from the inside and write His laws on our hearts. The Pharisees instead wanted to focus just on the outside change. That's why He also called them hypocrites (Matthew 23:13). Harsh words, but they just express the way He opposes another kind of change that will prevent Him from really changing and saving us. That’s why when we talk of the context of when He spoke of being faithful with what is least; it is about things that we do privately. Those are things that could only be seen by God. Things that we may consider as small but are important in His eyes, and who knows, it may be that by not doing them, we swallow a camel, meaning that we just consider them as small and insignificant, but they might be actually important. The same persons to whom He said that they swallow a camel He also said that they are not faithful in what is least.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23, 24)

When talking about a camel, we talk of something huge. Here, in this passage, by saying that they were straining a gnat, it is meant that they were paying attention even to what is small and insignificant, but when talking of being faithful with what is least according to the gospel, we talk mostly of what God considers important. God calls it least in the scripture because He knows we people consider it as something least. In God’s eyes, instead, it is important. What instead is mentioned that they were observing in Matthew 23 is what they considered as important, but it wasn’t actually of importance in front of God. God looks at the justice, the mercy, and faith. These things, unfortunately, are often considered as something least by men. We can see the same in the gospel of Matthew 25:40 when Jesus talked about persons to be taken care of, calling them “the least of these.” They weren’t least in His eyes. They were important. It is just that people consider them the least. That’s why what we might not give importance to might be a “camel”, meaning something great and important, and what we might consider important might be less important and often has to do with appearance.  

Therefore, we see that something is least because they considered it least, but at the same time, it might be great and important in God’s eyes.

Often, when it comes to being faithful with what is least, it has to do with what we need to do in front of God and things that He can only see. It has to do with the moments when we are alone. We might be persons who seek God and desire to know Him, but if we are not faithful in what is least, He will not entrust us with greater matters. This is also what the word says.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10, 11)

We might desire to grow in ministry or even hold an important position in a church, but we will never really have it if we are not faithful in the least matters concerning His will and desire. As I already said, this doesn’t have to do with outward details but with essential things He has commanded us to do. It has to do with what is plainly written in His word.

When talking of what is least, we also talk of things that are not directly mentioned in the Bible but have to do with it. At the end of the day, all things in life have to do with the Bible, as this is the ultimate guide given to men by God. The matter is that it has to do with the attitude and the way things are done. This is the foundation of all we do in life. We might not find our exact situation literally written in the Bible, also because the Bible was written according to the customs and usages people had at that time, but we will surely find something that has to do with the way we do things. We are not all fishermen as Peter was, but that doesn’t mean that the teachings he received while doing that are not for us. We know that in Luke 5:5, he told Jesus that he didn’t catch anything for the whole night but would nevertheless throw the net at Jesus’ word. We could apply that teaching to our lives in a way that we need to follow Jesus’ guidance to be successful in what we do in life. Not only for what is material because the Bible doesn’t give priority to that but to the will of God in our lives. Peter didn’t become the most successful fisherman after knowing Jesus, as he didn’t continue fishing afterward. That was just a lesson from which he learned that he had to follow and obey Jesus in all areas of his life and trust His voice. God’s priority is not fishing but listening to His voice. We can get as an example something that Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10.

“For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.”

Here, we see a passage in the Old Testament that Paul used as an example to apply to their daily lives at that time. God is not directly concerned about oxen, as Paul said here, but if it is about His will and glory, then He uses that situation to talk to us. That’s why when talking of being faithful with what is least, we might see ourselves in situations in which we need to be faithful, but we don’t see them directly in the scripture. That doesn’t mean that we mustn’t regard those situations. Let's, for example, say that you work in an auto repair shop, and your boss tells you to use an old set of tools when repairing a car instead of the new ones. This might sound like something banal and so minor in your eyes. After all, the Bible doesn’t talk about which tools you need to use to repair a car, and with the new ones, you would finish the job quicker. Still, even if it is not directly written about this exact situation, you need to consider that the Bible talks to us about obeying authorities and obeying our masters for God's sake; I mean that we can glorify God by doing that (Romans 13:1, 2, Colossians 3:22, 23). The only time we mustn’t do that is when they tell us to do something that dishonors God. Still, using an old set of tools doesn’t dishonor Him. If we are in a situation where we just don’t want to do it that way, it is better rather to admit that we haven’t done it that way and to explain our reasons for doing that to our boss or whoever else might be. It is better to live in a light and not to hide and live in a lie for a pitiful situation like that. A situation that is something minor and least but is still important in God’s eyes. Even if in case we disobey because, for some reason, we don’t consider that to be right, it is better to admit it before that person because it is not worth hiding and being fine in people’s eyes but not fine in God’s eyes. It is better to live in truth and be right with God than to be right with men only. When we are right with God, the other things and situations will also be right with time. Still, it starts first with cleaning the cup from the inside out, which indicates being right with Him, and then also the outside will be clean (Matthew 23:25, 26). If we focus first on the outside, we will most surely be caught in the traps and deceits of this world.

Therefore, even if some situations in which we are found are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the Scriptures teach us that we mustn’t lie and that we must obey our authorities. This is what we must base our lives on, and it also applies to any situation we deal with throughout the day.

Another part of the scripture that confirms what we talk about is when Jesus spoke of leaven. He told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

“Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6)

We all know that the leaven is placed in the flower and is a small part of the whole dough. Nevertheless, it makes it grow. We obviously enjoy leavened bread, but when God told His nation to eat unleavened bread only, He intended something else. The Bible talks of the leaven as something evil (1 Corinthians 5:8). It is interesting that the evil God talks about is compared to a leaven. It might be small and insignificant, but it could grow with time. The work that God does in us and carries on doing is purifying us from evil. This is not something that we achieve with our own strength. It is something that He works in us. His purpose, however, is not to decrease the level of evil in us so that we can only change our wrongdoing for other less harmful things. He wants to take it away completely. This is a work that often requires time, and we can only feel completely pure when we are in His presence. Still, He warns us that the leaven could grow if left in us. That’s why we need to be aware of the apparently small attitudes and sins and be faithful with the least. Again, here, He doesn’t talk about small mistakes that are made because of lack of attention but about attitudes such as hypocrisy, which is the Pharisees’ leaven, and lack of faith and hope in eternity, which was the Sadducees’ leaven.

Giving value to what He tells us and having faith in Him will help us do that. No person can please Him without faith. This is how our hearts can be really clean – when we ask Him with faith to forgive our sins and clean us.

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