If the Grass Looks Greener, It's Probably Astro Turf
If the Grass Looks Greener, It's Probably Astro Turf
A campaign by one online agency offered a dating service for married men and women who wanted to have an affair. The agency is by no means alone in this market. What was different was that they executed an extensive advertising campaign specifically on massive billboards next to motorways with the slogan, ‘The grass is always greener.’
Essentially, they were making money feeding on people’s weaknesses and helping them to be unfaithful. This may seem attractive, but the reality is that it can ruin the lives of the individuals involved, as well as the lives of their partners, their families and their children.
Jesus puts faithfulness alongside justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). Faithfulness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Mother Teresa said, ‘I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness.’
God’s faithfulness towards us gives us an example to follow in our own relationships. Faithfulness is something we should strive for in marriage, friendships and in our relationship with God.
Be faithful in relationshipsProverbs 7:6-20
The book of Proverbs warns of the dangers of unfaithfulness. We see in this passage the foolishness of both the man and woman involved in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.
There is a contrast throughout the book of Proverbs between the ways of two very different women. On the one hand, there is ‘Lady Wisdom’ (see chapter 8) and on the other hand, there is ‘the adulteress’ (in this chapter). Much of the teaching is presented as the advice of a father to his son (although it is relevant to us all). The father urges his son to embrace ‘Lady Wisdom’, but to avoid ‘the adulteress’ at all costs.
It has been said that, ‘Opportunity knocks. But temptation leans on the doorbell.’ Sexual temptation is pervasive, ‘at every corner she lurks’ (7:12). It offers instant gratification but it is deceptive. She says, ‘Let’s drink deeply of love’ (v.18a).
Sometimes people try to justify unfaithfulness by using the word ‘love’. Yet, there is really no love here. It is certainly not deep or long-lasting. It only lasts ‘till morning’ (v.18a). Worst of all, giving in to these temptations is unfaithful: ‘My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey’ (v.19).
The person who follows this path lacks judgment (v.7). The mistake was not staying well away; but going ‘near her corner… in the direction of her house’ (v.8). To live a life of faithfulness, start not just with avoiding acts of unfaithfulness, but with your thoughts and in your heart. Part of the deceptiveness of unfaithfulness lies in its secrecy – ‘As the dark of night set in’ (v.9).
Unfaithfulness has the potential to destroy a marriage, or a future marriage, and to ruin lives. That is why on a wedding day, the bride and groom promise to be faithful to each other, as long as they both shall live. As has often been said, ‘The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence – it is greener where we water it.’ In fact, ‘If the grass looks greener, it’s probably AstroTurf!’
Lord, help me to be faithful in all my relationships. Help those who are married to be faithful to their marriage vows. Please guard and protect the marriages in our church and in our society.
Be faithful to God’s calling, his promises and his messageLuke 2:1-20
The faithfulness of those who played a part in the birth of Jesus is inspirational.
- Be faithful to God’s calling
In this understated account, we read how Joseph went to Bethlehem, ‘to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child’ (v.5).
It can’t have looked good. Joseph knew that Mary had not been unfaithful. However, he must have known that to everyone else around, it looked as if she had. The temptation must have been to dissociate himself from her (the account found in Matthew 1:19 even says he considered divorcing her quietly until an angel of the Lord spoke to him).
However, he was utterly faithful to God’s calling and to Mary, no matter how it looked from the outside.
- Be faithful to God’s promises
Mary must have been bewildered by what was going on. Yet, she believed what she had been told – she was faithful to the promises she had received. She ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19).
This is a wonderful example of what to do with prophecy and other words that you sense may be from God. Sometimes, you need to keep them to yourself. Like Mary, keep your mouth closed and, at the same time, keep your heart open. Treasure up God’s promises to you and ponder them in your heart.
- Be faithful to God’s message
The shepherds’ message was very different however. It was ‘good news… for all the people’ (v.10). Once they had found the baby in the manger as the angel had described, ‘they spread the word concerning what had been told them’ (v.17). You too have been entrusted with this amazing message about Jesus and are called to faithfully ‘spread the word’.
- Trust that God is faithful
Above all, this is an account of God’s faithfulness. Everything that God had promised to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, took place ‘just as they had been told’ (v.20). Yet God’s faithfulness to them was part of something even greater.
We begin to see how Jesus is the fulfilment of all God’s promises in the Old Testament. He is born in ‘the town of David’ (v.11), and his earthly father is ‘of the house and line of David’ (v.4). He is the promised king to whom the whole Old Testament points, ‘he is the Messiah’ (v.11).
This is ‘good news… for all the people’ (v.10). We see here a glimpse of what that means for us. Jesus is your ‘saviour’ (v.11), through whom you can know the peace and favour of God (v.14). You no longer need to carry a burden of fear (‘Do not be afraid’, v.10a). In knowing Christ, you know God. He himself is God; he is ‘the Lord’ (v.11). God’s faithfulness and love are the bedrock on which everything else is built.
Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness to me in Christ Jesus. Thank you that you give me hope, joy, freedom and purpose. Help me to be faithful in getting this message out to ‘all the people’ (v.10).
Be faithful in response to God’s faithfulnessNumbers 5:11-6:27
- Be faithful to your marriage partner
The elaborate instructions here (5:11–31) are an indication of how destructive unfaithfulness can be in a marriage. Whereas our passage in Proverbs was a warning against adultery, this passage deals with the consequences of adultery.
However, the law recognised that suspicion of sexual unfaithfulness was not enough. It might have arisen simply out of jealousy. There might have been false accusations. It was particularly important to protect women from false accusations, as their position in ancient societies was more vulnerable.
If the woman was innocent, this test meant that she had nothing to fear. The water was not harmful in itself. The law required a demonstration of guilt rather than one of innocence. Whether the husband chose to use this test depended on the kind of person he was. Joseph did not use it (Matthew 1:19).
- Be faithful to your promises
The Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:1–21) could be lifelong (for example Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist) or temporary. It was a particular expression of holiness not required of everyone. It was not a matter of extra merit. Jesus himself was not a Nazirite (although he was a Nazarene – which is slightly different!). The important point of this passage is that if you do make promises to God, you should be faithful to them.
- Be faithful in response to God’s faithfulness
Aaron and his sons were told by God how to pronounce God’s blessing on his people (vv.24–27). This is how God wants to bless you and me.
He wants to bless you with his presence, his face shining on you: ‘God smile on you’ (v.25, MSG). He wants to be gracious to you (v.25b). He is kind, merciful, forgiving and full of love.
He gives you his peace (v.26b) in the midst of the troubles of life and his protection (v.24). He wants to keep you from evil and falling away from him. God’s desire from first to last is to bless you (vv.24,27).
As you experience God’s faithfulness to you, your response should be to be faithful to him in all your relationships.
I pray this blessing over you today:
‘The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.’ (Numbers 6:24–26)
‘… Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart'.
I have treasured up many things in my heart over the years. Things that I have felt God say and memories of encounters with God and wonderful answers to prayers. Also, I have pondered many things – things that are puzzling or prayers I still hope will be answered, or just the awesome mysteries of God.
Verse of the Day
'The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face towards you
and give you peace’ (Numbers 6:24–26).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.