The meaning and importance of faithfulness

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 4 –  The meaning and importance of faithfulness

Many a man proclaims his own loyalty;
but a faithful man who can find?

Proverbs 20:6 (RSV)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me

Psalm 101:6 (RSV)

11‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully, 12except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the LORD fully.’

Numbers 32:11-12 (NASB)

7“You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. 8You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.

Nehemiah 9:7-8 (NIV)

What is “faithfulness”?

We could define faithfulness as being trustworthy, reliable, dependable and taking one’s responsibilities seriously. This applies to every task or duty and to every relationship we are in. If we had to give it a single word definition, we could say it is ‘loyalty’. It means sticking to a task and doing the very best you can with it. Likewise, it means sticking to a person and remaining true to them, no matter how inconvenient that may become.

The main person with whom you need to be faithful is God. He is always your first priority. But He also wants you to be faithful in every area of your life and with every other person. Psalm 15 describes the kind of person God is looking for and it is a demanding set of specifications:

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

Psalm 15:1-5 (NIV)

To become faithful is one of God’s main aims for us

Faithfulness is so important to God that it is listed as one of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter five. It is listed there because it is one of the key defining qualities of God’s own character. He Himself is totally faithful. He never breaks a promise and He never lets anybody down. God the Father wants you to grow to resemble the character and nature of His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s a very ambitious project:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.

Romans 8:29 (RSV)

Consider the extraordinary faithfulness Jesus showed when He stuck to His plan of going to the cross and allowing Himself to be crucified. He could have called it off or saved Himself from it at any time, but He never did. He voluntarily went through with all of it for our sake. That was faithfulness in its most extreme form. In considering how to grow in faithfulness yourself, please also refer to the chapter in this book on truthfulness. The two qualities are distinct but closely related.

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