WHO IS A FAITHFUL MAN?

"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness:
but a faithful man who can find?"

--Prov. 20:6

A FAITHFUL PERSON is trustworthy and reliable. Some people make faithfulness a hallmark of their human relationships, but the faithfulness that matters most is the faithfulness we show towards God.

God is faithful. He does what He promises to do. Moreover, because God is faithful, we dare have courage to trust Him and His promises. "He is faithful that promised" (Heb. 10:23). "Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens: and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Psa. 36:5). "Thy faithfulness is unto all generations..."--Psa. 119:90

In truth, all of God's creation depend on His faithfulness. Animals begin their annual migrations and periodic breeding cycles at certain times because nature's laws are firm. Plants send forth seed and sapling according to His faithfulness. Only human-kind has a hard time knowing whether or not to exercise faith in God.

If we are full of faith we will believe God's word and expect Him to fulfill His promises. That means we will actually live according to what we think. We judge that God, who delivered His word, is faithful (Heb. 11:11). Therefore, we commit ourselves to our heavenly Father in spite of unfair or evil circumstances. We do God's will the best we can because we trust our faithful Creator to set all things right in His time and way. "Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right."--1 Pet. 4:19 NASB

We find strength to be faithful to God because God is faithful in dealing with us.

A Fruit of the Spirit

Faithfulness is one characteristic of what the Apostle Paul calls the "fruit" of holy spirit. Paul refers to various qualities as a singular fruit because there is only one spirit which exercises a unified and consistent effect upon believers in Jesus Christ. The spirit works similarly in believers of every sort, at various times, even though each believer's individual life may be unique and their circumstances unparalleled. What is the effect of holy spirit in believers? God's spirit always works to transform those who are begotten by it so that they progressively and characteristically behave more like God.

The holy spirit works on our heart and on our mind to reveal how much better it is when we do what God would do or say what God would say. By practice over time we develop characteristics, we routinely behave as God would behave. Not because we should, or must, but because we choose to, we prefer to, because it is in our character to do so.

Faithfulness is one of those god-like traits. God is faithful, and we appreciate the effect His faithfulness has on us: we can rely upon Him. Because we appreciate reliability in others we begin trying to be more reliable ourselves. Reliability gradually becomes one of our characteristics. What was unrighteousness in us gradually becomes God's righteousness in us. It is this growth, or maturation, process that the New Testament elsewhere describes as our "new creature," our new way of thinking, living, and being god-like.

The question could be asked: "Why does God work in this indirect way?" The answer lies in what God has told us that His objectives are for us. He wants us to be His children: that is the big answer. But how, specifically, do we become His children? By learning to prefer His will, His way, and His ideas over ours. By allowing His spirit (especially in its influence upon us through the Bible) to transform our character, we are conformed to the "image" or character of His Son. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:28,29). "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you."--Gal. 4:19

We would be egotistical to think that we could become like Jesus merely by trying. We cannot succeed on our own. We were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, yet He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26, Psa. 51:5). That notwithstanding, each true believer does have the potential to behave as Jesus would behave because each Christian has within him God's holy spirit. "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"--1 Cor. 3:16

The characteristics Paul describes are attainable because God fills us with sufficient love so as to live like Him. "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."--Gal. 5:22,23 NASB

The NASB and other modern translations indicate that the Greek noun for "faith" was sometimes used to properly express more than its primary meaning, "firm persuasion." One such example is the apostolic counsel just noted, where the translation is "faithfulness." "Firm persuasion" must itself precede the attainment of the "faithfulness" which Paul advocated. (The same principle suggests that the King James translation of Matt. 23:23 and Rom. 3:3 could be improved. Look them up.)

As believers, we meditate about God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Those thoughts reveal to us ways in which we can begin obeying them more completely, thus "abiding" in Christ, our true vine (John 15). As we study and commune with God we find ourselves ever more intent upon being like Him, living like Him, and exercising our faith in action as Jesus did. That is why Paul describes the fruit of the spirit as growing in us in proportion as we walk in the spirit rather than in the flesh. Simply put, if you want to please God then live your life so as to please Him, and not yourself.

Faithfulness is Not Optional

When two people get married they expect one another to remain faithful. Faithfulness is a part of the marriage contract. So also with God. Faithfulness is not an option we choose. God expects us to be faithful to Him, and He seeks men and women who will live so as to consistently carry out His will. "And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind..."--1 Sam. 2:35

We show God our faithfulness by obeying Him. His heart becomes our heart; His mind our mind; His will our will. One cannot be faithful to God if they do what they please.

God actively looks for faithfulness in His servants. It is one of the qualities on which He judges His people. Jesus tried to help us understand God's great interest in our trustworthiness. "His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."--Matt. 25:21

Everyone does not have the same opportunities. Nor do we all have the same abilities. But we all have something. We have the capacity to be faithful in our own condition (Matt. 25:14-30). Yet all people do not prove trustworthy when tested. Jesus was reminding us of this very sobering fact.

The Lord's servants are stewards. They control things in their own lives which belong to God--which is everything in their life and person. One example of a stewardship God is specially interested in is the caring for and feeding of His people. This is not a judgment we have arbitrarily made. The Bible makes this judgment for us: "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."--1 Cor. 4:1,2

Examples of Faithfulness

Think of the patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob. He obeyed God even when faithfulness brought him difficulties. He was sold as a slave while carrying out his father's orders (Gen. 37:13-29). He was thrown into prison because he was faithful to his master, Potiphar (Gen. 39:1-20). Joseph was always faithful to God, and in due time he was set down at the right hand of Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt.

Moses was "faithful in all [God's] house" (Num. 12:7). What does "all God's house" mean? It means that he obediently did all God asked of him. Moses was characteristically enthusiastic for God...thus quite different from the Israelites with him. They were enthusiastic one day, grumbling the next, and idolatrous soon after. Moses did not allow the people's attitude to deter his own obedience. He was an imperfect man like ourselves, and he, too, made his notable mistakes. Yet, he consistently did God's will the best he could.

You will recall that to others God often spoke in dreams and visions, but He did not do so to Moses. God spoke clearly to him, and He cites Moses' faithfulness as his reason for doing so (Num. 12:6-8). You and I can learn from that. If we obey, if we are faithful, that behavior enables us to hear God's voice more clearly. When our heavenly Father speaks, He expects and deserves obedience.

Daniel was faithful to God, but he had reasons of personal safety to disobey or "deny" God. He had been snatched from home, moved as a prisoner to Babylon, and enrolled in school in the king's court. But God's servant Daniel was unmoved. God honored and exalted him for that faithfulness. He was so faithful in his assignments that when enemies sought to overthrow him, they were unable to do so. Finally, they resorted to using Daniel's worship of God as a weapon against him (Dan. 6:1-5). From Daniel we learn that God honors faithfulness even in the most ungodly surroundings.

We Learn Faithfulness

Jesus Christ is the supreme example of faithfulness. He always did God's will and spoke God's words. He had only one desire, "...not my will, but thine, be done.--Luke 22:42

Jesus' obedience did not come naturally. This we are told in the Book of Hebrews. Even for Jesus, faithfulness was something to learn. "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered..."--Heb. 5:8

We, too, can learn faithfulness. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?"--Luke 16:10-12

As we grow more faithful in one area of our life, that faithfulness can carry over into other areas. Faithfulness toward God begins with faithfulness toward family, faithfulness on our job, and faithfulness in financial dealings. We can't wait to show our faithfulness until someone trusts us with something big. We must be faithful now with whatever has already been entrusted to us.

Let us not be too quick to say or promise anything. God judges us when we make promises: will we do the thing that we have said? "...draw near to listen [in the house of God] rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools;... Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God...When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay."--Eccl. 5:1,2,4,5 NASB

Obey God Promptly

One aid to developing godly characteristics is to develop the habit of obeying God promptly. When we delay we are really only saying, "God, I want to have my will for a while. I'll obey you when I'm good and ready." But, of course, that isn't obedience at all!

We can start by obeying the revelation that we already have in the written Word of God. Ready obedience to God's Word will set us apart as one whom God can trust to carry out His will. "Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way [NASB margin, "a way of integrity",] he shall serve me."--Psa. 101:6

Strive to become a man or woman whom God can trust to carry out His instructions. Serve God now with all your heart in single-minded obedience. Do not wait for life's big challenges before learning faithfulness. Start now, with life's littlest details, and learn faithfulness so that you will be ready for greater tests to come.

Abide in Christ! Allow His words to dwell richly in you. Please God in your words and actions, rather than pleasing your own heart. If you do, you will fully manifest a godly and christlike character through the fruit of the spirit, which spirit dwelleth within us.--Rom. 8:11