Proverbs 3:3-4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
These two verses were kind of stuck with me for a few days, they are such beautiful verses with a promise.
Love – we are all feeling the need for the world to show and experience a little more love these days. I do think for us, followers of Jesus, knowing and having a relationship with the One who IS Love, should make us initiators in embodying and expressing the love of Christ for all to see. When we think of love, the greatest example for us is God’s love for us.
God loves us when we are far from worthy or perfect. His love is unfailing, unconditional, steadfast, infinite and knows no bounds. He demonstrated His great love for us by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins to make us righteous. What a blessing to be recipients of such love.
Scripture emphasises the importance of love. With the two greatest commandments, love takes centre stage. The first and most important is to love God and to ensure that nothing comes before Him in our lives and the second is to love our neighbour as ourselves.
1 Corinthians 13 describes the characteristics of the kind of Christ like love a Christian should embody
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
When I read this passage, it feels impossible to achieve that standard of love, but we serve a God who makes the impossible, possible. I am reminded that we are not to love in our own strength, because if we did, we would fail. He is the source of love which is not self-serving but self-sacrificing. He enables us to do so, but we have to be willing to sacrifice self when we submit to God to allow His love to flow through us.
Faithfulness – a steadfast reliable attribute that we always relate to with who God is. God is faithful, scripture repeatedly states that truth of His character. It is His faithful nature that reassures us of His steadfastness in keeping His promises because that is WHO HE IS.
Faithfulness as a description is also attributed to one who holds steadfast to the truth and walks in God’s ways with consistency, loyalty and trust. I tend to see faithfulness as also being full of faith or faith filled.
Being faith filled and rooted in His truth enables us to love more like Christ. Love and faithfulness are kind of tethered together. A life lived in faithfulness to God is a life from which Christ like love overflows.
Love and faithfulness are both virtues described as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We have it within us because of the grace of God and it should be evident in us because of the workings of the Holy Spirit. Both these virtues reflect the presence of God within us.
Never leave you – These two virtues are something we receive from Him, but this scripture passage reminds us to not let them leave us. Emphasising personal responsibility to ensure that what He has bestowed on us remains a part of us. The choice is ours to make to stay connected and obedient to God in our daily walk.
Bind them around your neck – It bears as a constant reminder, something that is intentionally worn every day as you wake up and carry on your person always and wherever you go. An outward display of that which is within us. Let the presence of the Spirit within you be evident in our ways and our words.
Write them on the tablet of your heart – we are to live these out not just from the surface out but these characteristics are to stem from the right place and that is from within. From the heart that is engraved with the word and truth of God. They are to originate and sustain from the one who is Love and ever Faithful.
Win favour and good name in sight of God and man – A noble ambition. When you think about winning favour and good name in God and man’s eyes, it is a big yes for me. But we have to remember that the crux is – being good and right in God’s eyes first and foremost, a blessed consequence is winning favour and name in man’s eyes but that should not be the reason or driving force behind said actions. And that makes all the difference. If we lose sight of whether we are doing things right in God’s eyes and are focusing only on the approval and praise of man, we falter in our motives and purpose.
Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
We read in Luke 2:52 that Jesus grew in favour of both God and man, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Let’s just look at a couple of great examples from scripture that show us about winning favour with God and also man –
Joseph was a man who walked in obedience and faithfulness to God, when he was put in prison, he won the favour of the jailer (Genesis 39:21 “The LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden). And later Joseph won the favour of Pharaoh after the interpretation of his dream and wins an esteem place in Pharaoh’s kingdom (Genesis 41:3941 “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. So, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”)
Daniel, a man of God who remained faithful to God through all his trials, found favour with God and man. In Daniel 1:9 we read that “Now God had caused the official to show favour and compassion to Daniel”). Later in chapter 6 we read that Daniel found favour with king Darius and he wanted to set Daniel in charge of all (Daniel 6:3-4 “Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.”).
These two men of God remind us that their devotion, faithfulness and love for God remained steadfast throughout their lives and they did not prioritise self instead of God, they did not compromise their faithfulness to God to win the favour of man.
Lord, thank you for being the source of all things for us, enable us to reflect your love and live faithfully. Help us to not get caught up in the desire to seek favour in the eyes of man but to be faithful in our walk with you and filled with your love, embodying both these characteristics to bring your glory.