Generally, if you are loving and true, you will be favored and successful.
3Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:3-4)
Steadfast Love and Faithfulness
Steadfast love is a predetermined commitment to love regardless of the qualifications of the beloved. It says, “I am for you because that’s who I am,” rather than, “I am for you so long as you are lovable.”
I often ask my kids, “Why does daddy love you? Is it because you’re smart, funny or cute? Is it because you’re a good boy? Is it because you’re a good girl?” They know the answer because we’ve gone through this so many times. “No, I love you because I’m your daddy, and that will never change.” I’m trying to teach them that I love them with steadfast love.
Faithfulness is saying and doing truth. You’ll often find these two virtues together in the Bible. Like a kite and string, love functions best when tethered by truth.
When we love without commitment to truth, we’re like a kite without a string. Take for example the overindulgent parent who shields her teenage son from consequences. Her love crumples to the ground without the truth tether. It enables her son to destroy his life through irresponsibility.
When we are true without love, we’re more string than kite. I had a college friend like this. His girlfriend mentioned concern about her weight and instead of offering the warm truth that he thought she was beautiful, he offered the cold truth that she lacked time to workout because of her busy schedule. Critical people are another example. Often their observations are true, but because they are unloving they are considered a pain rather than a help.
Bound Around the Neck and Written on the Heart
…bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3b)
These virtues ought to be constant and genuine. I recently starting wearing a fitness tracker wristband. In order for it to work I must remember to wear it all day and night so it can track my activity and sleep. This is what it means to “bind them around your neck.” Remember to put on these virtues when you wake up, when you go to work, when you come home–all the time. However they cannot be a facade. They are also to be written on the tablet of your heart, which means to press them into yourself so deeply that you live them genuinely from the inside out.
Favored by God and Man
Remember, we’re looking at love and truth through the eyes of wisdom, not righteousness or morality. God is telling us, “This is how my world works. This is how you are designed to operate.” Generally, if you hang on to loving faithfulness you will find favor and good success in the sight of both God and man.
You will appear as one to be favored. You will be offered friendly judgment, given the benefit of the doubt. You will have a good reputation. You will be and appear successful.
Carry loving faithfulness with you and gain your spouse’s respect, good relationships in the community and good standing at work. Let them forsake you and gain disrespect at home, bad relationships in the community and bad standing at work. Selfish unfaithfulness sabotages you. Loving faithfulness promotes you.
But there’s a problem, we all fall far short of constant and genuine love and truth because of sin. That’s where Jesus comes in.
As Christians, we have access to an unending source of loving faithfulness in Jesus Christ.
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:14-17)
In Christ, God looks at us and see’s Jesus’ loving faithfulness. Thus we gain favor and good success in his sight.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Furthermore, in Christ we are new creations, now able to live as Christ lived. As we grow in real-life loving faithfulness, we find favor and good success in the sight of men.
20But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)
As Christians, we are steadfast lovers and true. Now may we live like it!
- Read Proverbs 3:3-4 together.
- Who do you know loves with “steadfast love?”
- Who do you know who is “faithful?”
- What are some practical ways we can bind these virtues around our necks?
- What are some practical ways we can write them on the tablets of our hearts?
- What does it mean to “find favor and good success in the sight of God and man?”
- Have you found this proverb to be true in your life? Have the loving and faithful people found favor and success? Have the unloving and unfaithful people found disapproval and failure?
- What resources do we have as Christians to help us be loving and faithful that we wouldn’t have without Christ?
- What is one specific way you plan to respond to this passage?
- Take some time to pray together.