Growing Faithfulness at Home

In my grandmother's day, a sampler reading "Fidelity" hung just inside the door of many homes. Written in old English script, a bride embroidered the phrase on cloth and then framed it as the watchword for their new home. It showed the intention of the new bride and groom to be faithful in every area of their new lives together.

A person of fidelity is . . .

Faithful. Being "full of faith" implies a closeness with our heavenly Father. In the Winter Olympics the dance skaters are judged on their closeness to one another. They have to skate-dance as one, to move as one. Our faithfulness to our Lord will be seen in our closeness to Him, our oneness with Him.

Honest. Truth is "spoken honesty." Honesty is living our lives so that truth over-shadows everything that we say and do. Jesus said of Nathaniel, "‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false'" (John 1:47).

Loyal. We sometimes say a person is "true blue." Blue is often used in national flags because it symbolizes loyalty. Flying the flag of loyalty over our lives is good, too--loyalty to God, loyalty to family, loyalty to friends.

Many other words and phrases describe a faithful person: trustworthy, dependable, true. We say a faithful man keeps his promise, lives what he teaches or is a square shooter.

In early pioneer days to question a man's faithfulness was a "shooting matter." The sale of thousands of acres of land was sealed with a handshake and the word of two men. By contrast, in our day situation ethics are demonstrated daily on TV and unfaithfulness is modeled as the norm on many programs. If believing parents don't teach faithfulness to their children, who will?

Modeling faithfulness is essential. Our children pick up on our true beliefs by osmosis through the way their parents act. There should be no divergence between what we teach our children and the way we live our own lives. What we say should equal what we do. In reality, we are all human. We all err. When we do, wise parents will be frank with their children and admit their mistakes.

When our nephew and his family started on their vacation, he said to his children, "I'll buy you all ice cream any time you find me driving even one mile over the speed limit." They learned faithfulness in obeying the law by their father's honesty in driving.

Instruction in faithfulness is helpful, too. Bible stories are instructive, showing the reward for faithfulness and the consequences for unfaithfulness. Reading stories about faithful people helps a child to raise the bar of his own expectations of himself. (Together, you might want to read "The Gift Mitt" on the children's page of this website.)

Discipline may be necessary for unfaithfulness. When a child says he will do something, parents can help him keep his word, even when the child has changed his mind. Discipline needn't be harsh. Children learn, too, by having parents bring gentle pressure.

Pray together. Ask God, as a family, to help you be a family and individuals of integrity. He will help you to grow faithfulness at home.