Faithful and Fruitless

 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. – Luke 1:5-7

Luke 1 tells us of an older couple that have been faithful to God for perhaps all of their lives. They are both descendants of priests (Zechariah was a priest and a part of a familial division of priests & Elizabeth was direct descendant of Aaron, Moses’ brother and the first priest). They were “righteous in the sight of God.” That’s huge! A couple that God declares right with Him–before the Gospel is presented. They kept all the Lord’s commands and decrees, meaning they not only knew the Word but they obeyed the word consistently. The tone here doesn’t suggest moralism or legalism, but faithfulness. They committed themselves to following God and His plan for their lives.

Blue Skies, Barren Land

Oddly, with all of those things going for them, they have no children. Today, children don’t mean as much with the growing abortion rates and people who disown their parental rights–men and women. However, in the Scriptures, children were seen as a blessing from God. The first command God gave to people was to “be fruitful and increase in number (Gen. 1:27).” Children don’t come on the scene until Genesis 4, after Adam and Eve sin in ch.3. We see God bless them in spite of disobeying Him. Eve was so grateful God was faithful to honor her when she had not honored Him, she said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man (Gen. 4:1).

Children were also a huge part of the role of women in this time. Part of a woman’s role as the wife was to produce offspring for her husband. Her barrenness was legal grounds for her husband to divorce her and marry someone else. Yet, this couple stays together–and they have no children.

Singles are often judged on our marital status, the title we hold, company in which we hold the title, our salary, our ten year plans, etc. While those things are important, they do not add to or take away from our commitment to God nor His call on our lives.

Couples are often judged on the timeline for when they are getting married, when they having children, when they are moving into a house, the size of the house and the keeping up with The Joneses.

There is always something for other people to look at others as the litmus test for our definition of their blessed life. The truth is, having those “things,” whatever “it” is, is not always an indication that we are right with God. This couple didn’t have “it,” and yet God was pleased with them.

In the eyes of the Lord, Zechariah and Elizabeth were faithful, obedient, sacrificial, loyal, committed, dedicated, humble and every other character defining word you and I would choose. In the eyes of the world, their community, and perhaps family and friends, they were fruitless. Aside from titles and genealogy, there was nothing outwardly that would indicate the blessing of God was on their lives.

The point:

– At the end of the day, what matters is not if we are righteous in the sight of people, but in the sight of God.

– We should not judge others because they do not have “the signs” we are looking for that would indicate God is with them.

This couple didn’t have any outward signs, and yet when the Lord called on them, He not only turned back their biological clocks, but because they were faithful while being fruitless, God gave them steward over John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus.

Are there areas in your life where you are being faithful but seem fruitless?

Who can you encourage today to remain dedicated to Jesus even when He doesn’t answer your prayers?

We must remember the words God spoke to Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

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