Posted by: Pastor J Jacobs on Thu, Dec 29, 2016
The word ‘faith’ has a number of derivative words in the Scriptures: faithful, faithfully, faithfulness, as well as the words with opposite meanings of unfaithful and unfaithfulness.
‘The Faith’ describes the spiritual foundations we have, which are at the heart of our Judea-Christian beliefs. When we talk about exercising ‘faith’ we are describing the process of trusting God because we believe Him to be loving and true. This is the sort of faith that is referred to in Hebrews 11, without which it’s impossible for us to please God.
A person who is ‘faithful’ is someone who remains loyal and true and who doesn’t give up, even when times are hard and whatever the cost. People who live out their life and carry out their responsibilities ‘faithfully’ are those who keep going with what they’ve been asked to do and who don’t change any of the plans to suit themselves.
‘Faithfulness’ is a direct consequence of love. If we really love someone we will remain faithful to them – we will demonstrate, by our actions, true faithfulness. The faithfulness of God is direct evidence of His supreme love for mankind. Many times in Scripture we read of the faithfulness of God as being a consequence of love: ‘For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies’ (Psalm 57:10). ‘For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’ (Psalm 117:2). ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:22-23). And faithfulness is, of course, one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22.
Because faithfulness is one of the primary characteristics of God, it’s not surprising, therefore, that faithfulness is also one of the fruits of the Spirit. For what the Spirit does, as we grow in relationship with the Father, is to transfer the characteristics of God on to the character of God’s children, so, with time, we grow to look and behave like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In the book of Revelation the final winding up of the ages begins in John’s vision, when Jesus, the Lamb of God, sets out from Heaven on His final ride of judgement. In John’s vision, Jesus is riding a white horse and the name of the ‘rider is called Faithful and True’ (Revelation 19:11). Throughout eternity and His time on Earth, and back into eternity once again, Jesus had remained totally faithful to His Father and He had only ever spoken the truth. He could, therefore, with great justification take the names Faithful and True as being an accurate description of His character.
What we are beginning to understand is that the word ‘faithful’ describes, above all else, the character of Jesus who, more than anyone who has ever walked this planet, was faithful unto death. So when we’re looking to those rewards that God has prepared for us in Heaven, the crown of life will be given to those who have reflected the character of Jesus, by remaining faithful to Him throughout their days. One of the early Church Fathers, Clement of Alexandria, expressed this thought in a simple, but very profound way, when he said, ‘The faithful person lives constantly with God’ in what might be described today as 24/7 Christianity!
Mother Theresa, that extraordinary nun who demonstrated such love for the deprived and the broken often spoke about what it means to be faithful. She summed up her whole attitude to God by saying, ‘God did not call us to be successful, but to be faithful. I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.’ And it’s that quality of faithfulness which is the hallmark of those whose lives have been lived in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
George Horne showed us another aspect of the importance of faithfulness when he said, ‘When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them faithful to each other will be much disappointed.’ This is profoundly important in the days in which we are now living. Faithfulness to God has been dispensed with as a requirement of Government. According to George Horne we should, therefore, be seeing faithfulness disappearing from the characteristics of life. And that is exactly what we have seen happening at every level of society – unfaithfulness has become the external evidence of the internal catastrophe in the heart of man.
Once you have dispensed with the need to be faithful to God, you finish up with a doctrine of man which only requires faithfulness if and when it suits you – and as soon as it doesn’t suit you, you can just move on and be master of your own destiny without any need to be loyal and faithful to others.
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