"I've started, so I'll finish."
This was the famous phrase used by the quizmaster Magnús Magnússon in the long-running UK TV series Mastermind, when the time for questions was interrupted by the bell.
Sadly, though, the idea of starting something and seeing it through for the long haul is very far from the spirit of our age, at least in the Western world.
We live in a time of instant gratification. No need to save for it, have it now on your credit card. Can't afford the deposit for a house? No worries - we'll lend you 100% and give you cash back. (OK, that seems to have dried up during the recession, but just wait a while!)
This unwillingness to commit beyond the present is reflected in our society everywhere - from the fall in the number of people who keep diaries for future appointments, through to couples who can't be faithful to one another or see marriage as a temporary situation to be got out of at the first sign of difficulty.
In contrast, God is constantly affirmed in the Bible as 'faithful', which includes the ideas of loyalty, steadfastness and trustworthiness.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
says the Psamist (Ps117:2).
It's perhaps no surprise that God wants to develop faithfulness in us too, by his Holy Spirit working in us when we become Christians, to make us more like Jesus, who himself was faithful to his calling - even to the point of death on a cross. This won't be 'instant'! It will take time. Even Peter, who eventually became a pillar of the church, at first completely denied he knew Jesus at all when he was recognized as one of Jesus' followers.
Here are three ways in which we can show faithfulness in our daily lives:
- In our relationship with God
If we decide to become a follower of Jesus, do we resolve to stick with it, no matter what? So many see being a Christian from a purely consumer point of view, and lose interest at the first sign of difficulty or challenge. But we are to imitate God, by being faithful.
- In the workplace
The blatant abuses of the expenses system by many politicians in the UK parliament have shocked many people. Trustworthiness has been in short supply. Christians should be those who are known for faithfulness in their workplace, no matter what others might be doing.
- With our friends and family
Many Christians find most challenge in showing the fruit of the Spirit amongst those who know them best. Don't be afraid to change, and become increasingly known as someone who can always be trusted, depended on - for the long haul, not just for today.
But it's true that as you grow in faithfulness, you will find yourself swimming against the current of society, resisting the pressures of some of your friends to think just of 'now'. But as you co-operate with the Holy Spirit, he will persist in growing this fruit in you. He, too, would say of you: 'I've started, so I'll finish'.