Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.
Proverbs 3:3-4 (ESV)
Traditionally various people find a way to feature what is important to them by wearing a symbol of it, like a necklace. Sometimes the physical symbol is given the power to bring good luck or to ward off evil influences. Wisdom says that if you are going to value something that much, it should be steadfast love and faithfulness. These two virtues should not only hang around your neck, but be imbedded in your heart. Good things are in store for those who value these above all else.
However, try as we may, these traits are beyond our reach. We can want them. We can even decide to practice them, but our own obsession with personal survival and success gets in the way. We admire these when we see them in others, but we find that consistency in our behavior is lacking. Steadfast love is sometimes translated as mercy and faithfulness is often translated as loyalty. But this is a kind of mercy and loyalty that can only come from a heart that is pure in motive and discerning in method. These are traits that describe God. He alone has a love that does not depend on the object’s response for its continuation. He alone is loyal to himself and has sworn to himself that he will bless those who are in Christ. He is the initiator of the covenant with people. He alone will keep covenant when we are disloyal because he accepts the responsibility to keep our end as well as his. Our only hope to have these traits around our neck is his faithfulness to himself.
Trying to attain these apart from trusting Jesus as our steadfast love and faithfulness is a futile and frustrating endeavor. In fact, only when we get our focus off our behavior and feature his love for us and his faithfulness to us will we enjoy the favor promised. It is not our faith that accomplished our redemption but the faithfulness of Jesus Christ as the mediator between God and man. As long as he is faithful, we get the benefits of his work. It is not our love that impresses him but the love that caused God to create us, make covenant with us, take our part of the covenant as well as his own, take upon himself the penalty of our covenant violation, and give us all that he had in mind before the world began—it is that love that captures our imagination and ultimately transforms our lives.
Our necklace is made up of alien virtues! No, they didn’t come from Mars. They can from heaven in the person of Christ. We can wear them confidently, but not proudly. They are not of our making, nor the result of our doing. As we focus on them, others will note that we are well dressed.