If someone asked you, How many days in a row have you been faithful to the Lord?, what number would you give?
This morning I was reading in Genesis when I came across the Enoch account. It says, “Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years.” It goes on: “Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Gen 5:22, 24).
Now interestingly, of his total life, Enoch is accounted with 300 years of faithfulness to God, which, incidentally, began at the age of 65 after he had fathered Methuselah. (Methuselah, you will recall, is the one who is credited as having the longest human life in the Bible—or ever!—of 969 years).
We don’t know what it was that sparked this “senior moment” of faithfulness for Enoch. Maybe becoming a father at age 65 causes one to reconsider one’s life and the legacy one will leave for one’s child! At any rate, the text is clear that God’s accounting of Enoch’s faithfulness started at age 65!
Now as interesting as the beginning marker of Enoch’s faithfulness is, that wasn’t what jumped out at me. It was the number 365—the total number of years Enoch lived. Why?
As perhaps many of you, I’ve been reflecting on my goals and habits and thinking about the 365 days ahead. But as I read about Enoch this morning, I asked myself: Could it even be said of me that I lived faithfully for 365 (or at least 300) days in a row?
This obviously begs the question of whether one can be counted faithful and yet fall into sin. Protestants and Catholics alike are generally convinced that few can make it through a day without sinning. And to be frank, I have to believe that even good ol’ Enoch gave into to temptation once, twice, thrice in those 300 years.
And yet Enoch is credited as having walked faithfully with God.
So what’s this mean for us?
1) It’s never too late to start living faithfully before God. We don’t know what happened in the first 65 years of his life, yet the the Bible indicates that Enoch, after 65, was faithful for 300 years. We may not have as long as Enoch to live out our faithfulness to God, but we are never too old to start. It doesn’t matter if you are 6, 60, or 600 (just covering my bases here), you can start a walk with God today.
2) Faithfulness to God isn’t necessarily defined by sinlessness. I’m convinced by the broad witness of the scriptural narratives of the great heroes of the faith, that the faithfulness they are credited with is not based on perfect records of sinlessness. Just take a look at the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame to see the line-up of sinful characters there! They sinned, and so do we.
And of course, theologically, we can never be reminded enough that the faithfulness credited to us is only by the faithfulness and sinlessness of Jesus Christ on our behalf. And yet, we cannot ignore the fact that sinning humans are credited as faithful in the Bible.
Here the phrase in Genesis 5 is so important. Remember what it says? “Enoch walked faithfully with God.” Human faithfulness here, and almost everywhere in the Bible, isn’t a statement about sinless perfection, but about walking with God in Jesus Christ. Walking means taking one step at a time, and continuing on, day in and day out. It’s the same word the apostle John uses in his exposition on sin and fellowship with God in 1 John 1. As we walk in the light of Jesus (I John 1:7), it is impossible to say we are without sin or to deny that we have sinned (1:8,10). But as we walk in Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we are cleansed day by day (1:9).
You see, we don’t measure the veracity of journey as to how many missteps, slips, and falls we’ve made, but by how we refuse to stop walking. So if you’ve fallen, slipped up, taken a wrong turn—don’t let that stop your journey with God. Keep on walking. Get on the path, ask God’s forgiveness, and move on.
3) Faithfulness should, however, be marked by greater victory over sin. Faithfulness in walking in the light of Jesus means that our awareness of sin should become ever more acute and our tendency should be to deal with it more and more swiftly and with greater resolve to see it killed in our bodies.
These reflections all started when I asked myself, Could I, by the help and grace and mercy of Jesus, actually live 365 days without sin? I doubt I will, but that doesn’t mean it is worth setting as a perhaps a goal.
This morning I heard about a Saskatchewan man who last January was feeling despondent about his life and he decided to make an audacious goal: To walk across Canada–just because. He wasn’t doing it for charity, but just wanted to see if he could do it. And do it he did.
Now don’t get me wrong: It isn’t about justifying ourselves by our sinlessness before God, but it is asking: Can I, with the abiding Spirit’s help, resist that temptation one more day? Can I stay on the path just another hour? Just as the fellow who walked across Canada needed to take one more step—and do it repeatedly—it is worth asking ourselves why we are unable to get through a day, or an hour, without giving in to temptation.
I don’t want at all to set ourselves up for disappointment and guilt and shame in failure. However, I do wonder if we—I—tend to give up or given a little bit too quickly.
And that caused me to wonder: What would 365 days of faithfulness look like this year? Each of us will answer that a bit differently and each of our circumstances will demand different disciplines. Some need to commit to being more faithful prayer. Others to curbing appetites. And others to accountability. And still others to finishing something that they’ve procrastinated finishing in 2018. Whatever it is, imagine the joy of being able to look back at the year, and for God to say, “And _________ [insert your name here] walked faithfully with God for 365 days…”