What Does It Mean to Be Faithful?September 1, 2020 Save Article
Faithfulness is what we believe, how we live, and what we do as a result of what we believe. Faithfulness is a quality everyone admires. More than admire it, God requires it. The Marines have a motto: “Semper Fidelis”—always faithful. How that needs to be true in our hearts and lives! Can you be depended upon? It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much ability, personality or intelligence you have, you're not worth much if you don't have this character quality the Bible calls faithfulness.
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much. (Luke 16:10)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
The fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22)
What do you imagine took place when the Apostle Paul, having been martyred, arrived in the presence of Jesus and looked into the face of his dear Savior? Paul had been imprisoned and put to death during the reign of Nero, one of the most infamous men in world history. I don't know what the Lord said to him, but I think I know. I'm almost certain of it: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:23).
Do you know why Paul is upheld as such a great Christian? He was faithful to the fight, faithful to stay the course, and faithful to the finish. It’s what I want for my life, and I hope what you want for yours. I want to end well. I want to finish my course with joy. I want the same for you: to end well, do well, and be faithful.
I was shocked at the results of a Gallup poll. A survey found that 40% of the American people say they are short-change customers, call in sick when they’re not, cut corners, and cheat on exams. Gallup said, “There is a spiritual and moral integrity crisis in the United States of America.” In this study, we’re going to look at:
- the marks of faithfulness
- the motivation for us to be faithful
- and the methods of our faithfulness
The Marks of Faithfulness
Where should we be faithful?
There are five areas where you should be a faithful person.
First, faithful in our families
At the core, we should be faithful first in our families. Over and over the Bible speaks of family faithfulness. Friend, if you're not faithful at home, you can't be faithful anywhere else. The religion that doesn't begin at home doesn’t begin. Be morally, sexually faithful to your spouse. There's no greater mark of unfaithfulness than adultery.
But you don’t have to be physically unfaithful to still be unfaithful. Many people are married to their job, or they have a love affair with money or other interests that draw them away.
When I talk to some young people who’ve gotten into trouble with the law, invariably they’re hostile toward one or both parents. Somehow, sometime, their parents have been unfaithful to them. They’ve made promises they didn’t keep. They said something off-handed they didn't really think about, but the children never forgot. Kids have an incredible memory. If you make a promise to them—keep it. They will remember a broken promise for a long time. Many children, perhaps some of yours, harbor bitterness and resentment because parents were faithless.
Ask for forgiveness. Do what you can to make restitution.
- Ask yourself, “Has there been a time when I was faithless? Have I promised and failed to do what I said?
- It would do well for many of us to go back and ask our loved ones this, including little children. Are there names of those you need to speak with? Get the record right, ask for forgiveness, and do what you can do to make restitution.
Second, faithful in our finances
What would you do if you had a million dollars? You’d do the same as you’re doing with the hundred dollars you do have. If you're not faithful in small things, you won’t be faithful in large things. That’s not speculation. That’s what Jesus Himself said in Luke 16:10. If you steal a hundred dollars in God's sight, you may as well have stolen a million.
The same principle applies to spiritual riches. What you would do in the spiritual realm is reflected by what you do in the physical, financial realm. Jesus continues:
Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [money], who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? (Luke 16:11-12, added for clarity)
The “true riches” Jesus speaks of are spiritual riches. If you can't be trusted with money, God cannot trust you with spiritual power.
Many of us don’t have spiritual blessings because we haven't been faithful with our finances. God won't bless us spiritually.
Most Americans get this exactly backward: “If I can be a good spiritual person, believe and trust, I'll be wealthy.” You hear that from a lot of TV preachers: “If you get spiritually right, God will bless you materially.” This passage says the opposite: if you’ll get materially right, God will bless you spiritually
If you're a faithful steward of what God gives you, big or small, He says, “I can bless you spiritually.” Some of us aren’t seeing prayers answered, understanding the Bible better, or are such poor witnesses because we haven't been faithful in material things.
Here’s the financial plan God outlined, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper…” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Who: every one of us
What: planning ahead, setting it aside
When: give regularly
How: an amount in proportion to how we’ve prospered
You don’t come to church and give willy-nilly: “I think I'll do so and so.” No, you already know because you’ve thought it through and set it aside for the Lord. If God has given you much, you can give much. If little, then your gift may be smaller. But the point is, we need to be faithful in our finances. The money is not the important thing. It’s only the test. If God can't trust you with money, He can't trust you in other areas.
- When you give, how do you do it? Do you plan ahead?
- What is the pattern of your giving?
- In the last three months, has your giving been regular or sporadic?
- Ponder this truth: It’s not about the money—it’s about your consistent, regular faithfulness.
Third, faithful to our friends
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
An English publication had a contest for the best definition of a friend. These won honorable mention:
“A friend is someone who multiplies your joys and divides your griefs.”
“A friend is someone who understands your silence.”
The winner was: “A friend is someone who comes in when all the world has gone out.”
Describing friendship along the lines of 1 Corinthians 13, Elisabeth Elliot wrote:
Friendship is slow to lose patience. It looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive. It is neither anxious to impress others, nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Friendship has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage at the other's expense. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of slights or gloat over the mistakes of the other. On the contrary, it is glad when truth prevails. It knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no failing of its hope, and in this it can outlast anything. True friendship stands when all else has fallen.
- Do you have a friend you can count on like that, who loves at all times, no matter what you’ve done?
- What can you do today or this week to let that person know what their friendship means to you?
- Who comes to mind that you could be that friend for?
Fourth, faithful to our fellowship—the Church.
The Bible has much to say about being faithful to our fellowship. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).
When the Body meets and you're away, part of the Body is absent. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…” (Hebrews 10:25).
You’ve heard people say, “You don't have to go to church to be a Christian.” Technically, that's true. But I doubt the Christianity of the person who deliberately neglects the “assembling of ourselves together.” Some say, “I get just as much by listening on television, or reading a devotional book.” You don't come to church just for what you can get. You come to church for what you can give to each other in fellowship. Hebrews 10:25 continues, “…but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day [of Christ’s return] approaching.”
We encourage and strengthen one another. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).
We're living in dangerous, deceptive times. We owe to one another a fierce loyalty and faithfulness. When we worship together, we’re saying to one another, “God is important to me and so are you.” It’s not just that God is important, but we are important. We must be faithful to the fellowship and to one another.
- What are the two commands we should obey in Hebrews 10:25?
- What is the blessing in faithfully “assembling together” with the body of believers?
- This verse indicates how important it is that the place where you worship both feeds you and gives you the opportunity to feed and encourage others. If that doesn’t describe your church, what should you do?
Fifth, faithful to our faith: to the Word of God
Today the Word of God is shredded, dissected and mocked. Some who call themselves theologians don’t believe the Word of God and set themselves up to judge it. Friend, we don’t judge the Word of God; the Word of God judges us—even down to parsing the division of soul and spirit.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said that the chief danger of the 20th century would be forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, religion without the Holy Spirit, and Heaven without Hell.
If any generation needs to be faithful to the faith, it's this generation. In every corner of the world, we’re just one generation away from paganism.
- What, specifically, are you doing to pass along this faith, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the next generation—to your children and grandchildren?
- If you don’t have children of your own, what can you do to ensure that you’re sharing the Gospel with the next generation?
The Motivation for Faithfulness
Why should we be faithful?
We want to be faithful because of God’s great faithfulness to us. Think about the many ways God has been faithful.
Just for starters, God faithfully forgives our sins.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
What if you couldn’t be sure God would forgive you? Imagine how that would feel. You’d creep through every day, wondering what would become of you. You’d have no confidence, no peace. The “peace that passes understanding” would pass you right by (Philippians 4:7)! Suppose you’ve done something wrong, you come to the Lord asking, “Oh, God, forgive me”—and don't know whether He would or not!
What a joy to know every time we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to do that.
Then, God promises to be faithful when we’re tempted.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It would be miserable to be battling the forces of Satan, the pull of the flesh, and at the same time have no promise of victory. But you can wake up every morning knowing God is faithful to keep you if you’ll let Him (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). The God who saved you is the God who keeps you (Lamentations 3:22-23).
God has been so faithful to us. We should return that faithfulness to Him.
- Think about God's faithfulness throughout your life. Specifically, how has He been faithful to you?
- Describe a time when God’s faithfulness brought you through a situation so dark you wouldn’t have made it without Him.
The Method of Faithfulness
How will we be faithful?
Here are some ways:
Faithful in the small things.
Everything big is made up of smaller things. Life isn’t just one or two big decisions but our small choices every day. Honesty, kindness, warmth, integrity—the small things really do make a difference. Before David could become king, he had to be a shepherd. He watched over a few sheep before he watched over an entire nation. Before he killed Goliath, he killed a lion and a bear.
Little things are so important. If you have children coming with you on Sunday morning, let them bring an offering. Don’t give them money to bring. Give them a little allowance and let them take a part out and bring an offering to church. The church needs their pennies—you’re teaching them to give. One day when they’re grown, they may give a hospital or underwrite a mission society. Teach them to be faithful in what is least and they’ll be faithful in much.
Faithful in the secret things.
What you are in dark, when no one else knows, is what you really are.
A good test of your character is, what would you do, good or bad, if you knew no one else would ever know? You are what you are in secret, nothing more, nothing less. If you're in a hotel room, Mr. Businessman, or away at a convention, if you’re by yourself and no one else knows, that’s your true character.
At one point when Michelangelo was painting the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he came to a niche human eyes would never see. Someone asked, “Why are you painting there? He answered, “I see it, and God will see it.” Friend, that's faithfulness. Whether anyone else ever knows or not, be faithful in the secret things.
Faithful in the sacred things.
Keep your heart warm and right with God. That's the root of all faithfulness. At the very end of his life, the Apostle Paul said
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-9).
He’s in prison, waiting to be executed, he signs his name to this epistle. A knock at the door. The guard says, “It’s time to go, Paul. They’re going to behead you.” I can see the old apostle getting his old ragged coat. He’s been stoned, shipwrecked, beaten, and left for dead. His stooped body with that gray hair and little squinty eyes limps out. The guard says, “You’re humming?”
“Pardon me—I didn’t know I was humming. Just a little habit I have.”
“What's that song?”
“Oh, a little song, ‘It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.’”
“You're a strange duck. You're not afraid to die?”
“I'm used to it.”
“What do you mean you're used to it?”
“Oh, I die daily.”
“I don't understand you, mister.”
They put the old apostle on the chopping block. Before the blade falls, the executioner asks, “Do you have any last words?”
“Yes, brother. Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The axe falls, the head rolls, the next scene is Heaven. Paul looks into the face of his dear Savior.
If believers in Christ would just be faithful, our communities would be transformed by this fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness. Be faithful.
- When you meet the Lord, will He be able to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? If you’re uncertain, do you sense any changes the Holy Spirit has been whispering to you in this study that you need to make? If so, list them.
- We’re not talking about working your way to salvation. That’s the gift of God, not works. Then once we’re saved, God begins His restorative work within. If you’re willing to do the hard work of discipleship, write your intentions here:
This Bible Study was taken from the message, "Faithfulness" (#1444).
Learn more about how to study the Bible with the LWF Bible Study Guide.