Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Those Who Are Faithful In Love Will Rest In Him

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Keraza Magazine issue 25-26 June 20, 2014

Faithfulness is a virtue most beloved by people of various denominations and religions, to the extent that faithfulness has become an important gauge to measure the moral behavior of all nations and persons. The measure of the degree of corruption in a country depends on the degree of its citizens' faithfulness. Faithfulness is highly connected with commerce, where the faithful tradesman is described as one not having defective products, uneven scales, or deceptive words.

Each person has a different concept of the word faithful. Perhaps first to come to mind when one hears the word faithful is faithfulness in speech, faithfulness in sales, faithfulness in marital relations, faithfulness in judgment, faithfulness in friendship, faithfulness in fulfilling the commandments, faithfulness in service, faithfulness in investing talents, or faithfulness in raising children... In the Holy Bible, in both Testaments (Revised Standard Version), the word faithful was mentioned ninety-seven times, twenty-six of which described God as being faithful, while the word faithfulness appears seventy-seven times including perhaps all the meanings of faithfulness mentioned above.

Most amazingly, the Holy Bible in one of books known asDeuterocanonical books, the book of Wisdom, talked for a one single time about a unique concept of faithfulness, "faithfulness in love," saying, "Those Who Are Faithful in Love Will Rest in Him" (Wisdom 3:9). Wonder, what is this new meaning of faithfulness?

To understand "faithfulness in love," we must first answer the question: "love of whom?" To do that, we have to return to the Holy Bible where we find that it requires a person to love God first, and the neighbor second: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke10:27). Therefore, faithfulness in loving God is embedded in the words "with all," while faithfulness in loving your neighbor is rooted in the words, "as yourself." "With all" means: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew10:37), further meaning: "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John2:15), while "as yourself" means: "We also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John3:16).

As for the phrase "will rest in Him," it is even more amazing how the Holy Bible is able to use this same phrase to describe both the cause and the effect. That is, the faithful in loving God and the neighbor live that faithfulness and demonstrate it by abiding in God and clinging to Him in this age with all the heart, soul, and thoughts. Simultaneously, the reward, for that faithfulness in love, is abiding in God and uniting with Him in the age to come. This means that the nature of the crown, and the reward in the kingdom, will be of the very nature of the work and struggle on the earth. Why not if the Holy Bible itself says: "Then came the first saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas'. And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities'" (Luke19:16-17)?

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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