The Greatness in Quiet Faithfulness

This was a sharing done at First Baptist Church, San Fernando (La Union). I gave this message while Celia shared a message earlier on “The Beauty of Womanhood”

When I think about Quiet Faithfulness, the first thing I think of is a certain dog. You may be familiar with the story. It was made into a movie.

A Japanese man, named Hidesaburo Ueno owned a dog. The breed of the dog was Akita, and its name was Hachiko. This dog would wait for his master, Mr. Ueno, at the train station. Mr. Ueno was a lecturer of Agricultural Science at Tokyo Imperial University. Every day he would return from the university by train and at the train station Hachiko would be waiting for him. They would walk home together from the station. One day at the university, Mr. Ueno died in the middle of one of his lectures. Hachiko, only a year and a half old waited at the train station, but Mr. Ueno did not return.

Despite this, every afternoon Hachiko would return to the train station to wait for his master. For 9 years this dog went to the train station to wait for Mr. Ueno… until Hachiko’s death.

This dog expressed a quiet faithfulness. Hachiko did not do it to impress anyone, nor did it out of some expection of reward. Hachiko did it because it believed that was its job to go to the station every day to wait for Mr. Ueno.

By why do we make such a big deal about a dog. In Japan there are at least two statues, a wall mosaic, and a plaque all in honor of this dog. In the United States, a full length movie came out to honor this dog. But why?

I think it is because we as humans live in awe of qualities that we lack. The dog exemplifies soemething that we know is good— that we know we are called to be… and yet we almost always fall short.

Jesus gave us a story about a man who also lived a life of quiet faithfulness. Luke 12:42-46

Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

This is nice. The master puts his servant in charge… the master goes away, and the servants is faithful… doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing… day after day after day. Jesus then continues…

But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

The first part of this parable is inspiring… the example is inspiring rather like the story of Hachiko is inspiring. Sadly though, much like the story of Hachiko, it is very rare. We often start out strong. But then time passes and our faithfulness waivers.

Satan has many traps to make us fail. One of those is Temptation… Satan tempts us with desire. The temptation may be sex. Maybe it is wealth. Perhaps it is power, or popularity. And that trap is usually successful. But Satan has other traps. Another trap is Fear… We may do what is wrong because we fear missing out on an opportunity. Or maybe we fear failure. Perhaps we fear public shame… hiya. Another trap is Freedom. No one is watching… no one knows if I do what is wrong. I serve as a missionary. Missionaries struggle with freedom often. That is because they work and live in one place, but their bosses live thousands of miles away. OFWs struggle with freedom. If I sin in a foreign land, who will know? Those are powerful traps. It is hard to make it through even a week without getting caught in one of these traps. But many a man has overcome temptations. And many have overcome fear. Many more have avoided sin despite freedom. But few men have overcome perhaps the most deadliest traps of Satan….

Time

It is easy to be faithful to God and others for a day. Pretty much anyone can do it.

It is not that hard to be faithful for a week. I can do that, and I think you can too.

But faithful for a year? It is so easy to cut corners… to break a few rules.

Faithful for 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Few indeed are those who can be faithful to God day after day after day… for 20 years. Satan does not need you to be unfaithful to God today. He just has to plant the seeds of temptation, fear, and freedom in our hearts today… and simply wait. Satan is very patient.

The faithful servant did his job day after day…. without giving up. He was given wealth and power to manage by his master, but did not have the right to use them for his own personal pleasure.

Years ago, I served as an officer in the United States Navy. In the military we are trained in the concept of the martial virtues… or what could be called the military virtues.

There are a number of these virtues, but probably the BIG THREE are:

Courage Duty and Honor.

There is a simple way of remember this things.

  • Courage is doing the right thing even when I am afraid.
  • Duty is doing the right thing even though I don’t want to.
  • Honor is doing the right thing even though no one is looking.

When you look at these, all three of them have the same key point, it is about doing the right thing. No matter what, you do the right thing.

Overcoming fear to do what is evil is NOT an act of Courage.

Ignoring whether people are looking or not so as ot sin is NOT an act of Honor.

To do what is wrong regardless of whether one wants to or not, is certainly not living a life of Duty.

The faithful servant expressed all three of these virtues.

The faithful servant was honorable. He did what is right even though his master wasn’t looking. The master was gone for a long long time, and had no way of knowing what was going on back at his house. The faithful servant did not abuse that trust. He lived a life of honor.

The faithful servant was dutiful. He did what is right regardless of whether he wanted to. He worked hard all day every day… because that was his job… even if he could get away with being lazy or greedy at times. He did his duty.

The faithful servant was courageous. He took on a difficult job in which things could go bad. He could have been like the servant that Jesus described who, when given one talent to invest, hid it in a hole in the ground because he was afraid that he would get in trouble by losing it or making a mistake. Unlike the 1-talent servant… this– faithful– servant did not give up or run away. He had the courage to do his best even though he did not know what the future held.

The servant did the right thing, he demonstrated courage, duty, and honor, day after day after day… because that was what he was tasked to do. That was his job. That is faithfulness.

The title of this message is The Greatness in Quiet Faithfulness. And that is so true… and it is so rare. It is so rare that we make statues and movies about a dog that was faithful to a dead master for 9 years.

It is worth noting, however, that there is two major differences between Hachiko, and the faithful servant that Jesus described.

The first difference was risk. If Hachiko the dog one day decided to stop going to the train station, no one would care… not really. It would not really matter. Perhaps Hachiko would not get statues and a movie… but not a big deal. With the faithful servant, the risks are much greater. Although the faithful servant may enjoy for a time being unfaithful— being abusive to the servants, getting drunk, and failing to do his job– there is a day of reckoning. Failure to remain faithful will not go unpunished.

The second major different is hope. Hachiko was faithful everyday… but that hope was not ultimately rewarded. Hachiko went the station every day, but his master who would never… could never… come. Hachiko died without ever being rewarded for his faithfulness.

For the faithful servant in Jesus’ parable, it was different. Unlike the case of Hachiko, the master will, in fact, one day return.

Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

May each of us live a life of duty, of honor, of courage… a life of quiet faithfulness to our task and our God. Such a life is rare— true greatness.