Promises are often made in the hope (confident hope) that other parties will pull their weight. When, for whatever reason, the other party doesn’t hold up their end of an agreement we can feel justified in walking away from ours. It’s the stark contrast to this that strikes me most whenever I read Daniel 3.
The amazing young men in this story know that they have been faithful to God, and that he would be pleased with them. In a very difficult context they have remained true to Yahweh and now their very lives are at risk. In this context they say:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Dan 3:17-18)
Obedience is not dependant on God’s action. It’s dependant on his character. They knew God and therefore could do nothing else.
In the 2 Thessalonians readings, we read of people who do “not live according to the teaching you received from us” and whom are “busybodies”. We are warned not to be complacent nor led astray in following Jesus. Yet again, we see such obedience is not to be dependant on God’s action but on his character.
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful,and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3)
I fear that sometimes my faith, and perhaps our faith, can easily be more about God’s perceived action or inaction than his character. May we “never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13), looking not to what we “get” or what God “is doing” but rather trusting his faithfulness and goodness for the strength we need to be his hard and faithful workers… even if he does not ________________ (fill in your own expectation here).