THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD
By William R. Cunningham
Why should Christians or anyone for that matter, obey God? Why should we trust God and do what He says? The answer to these and similar questions is simply that God is faithful. Because God is faithful, we can trust Him and therefore obey Him. We are confident in the times of trouble because we know that God is faithful.
This lesson will examine the faithfulness of God. We will discuss two consequences of the faithfulness of God, which are given below.
We are also going to discuss the importance of having reliability in regards to your words, i.e., what you say.
We will use the following scripture as the foundation on which to launch this discussion.
Lamentations 3:22-24 (NKJV) Through the Lord'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"
Matthew 25:23 (NKJV) His lord said to him, '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.'
Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV) "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
See also Romans 1:17, and Galatians 3:11
The above scriptures declare that God is faithful and that a person is faithful. However, what does it mean to be faithful? Let's now examine the definition or meaning of the word "faithfulness."
The word "faithfulness" means the following.
Faithfulness is an attribute of God. He is the definition of faithfulness in a sense. It is the nature of God to be faithful and He is. Faithfulness is there a characteristic of the Body of Christ and one that all Christians should have and practice.
There are several types of faithfulness though only one is true faithfulness.
The first item above is the same as the definitions that we previously gave. In other words a person who is faithful in character is intrinsically faithful in all circumstances. This person would be faithful or trustworthy on his or her job, in school, and at home. All the people that are associated with a characteristically faithful person in any of his or her environments (work, school, etc.) would consider that person trustworthy.
Selective faithfulness is when someone is dependable in a certain environment, local, social setting, etc. For example, a person might be well known to be faithful at their place of employment but not at home. A person might be considered a trustworthy person in the church environment but not amongst his or her family and friends. For the most part we all tend to be faithful on our jobs because there is undesirable consequences for not being faithful.
One aspect of human nature is that we tend to be motivated by pain. In other words, a person who is not characteristically faithful will operate in a faithful capacity because not doing so would bring on negative or undesirable consequences. For example, we strive to be faithful on our jobs because not doing so could cost us our jobs. However, not being faithful at church for example, might not bring upon any painful or undesirable consequences except for perhaps a bad reputation.
Integrity of Your Words
Faithfulness is manifested by the consistency of what you say, i.e., your words and what you do. The keeping of your words is the first and probably greatest indication of your faithfulness. A person who consistently keeps his or her words would become known as faithful. A person who consistently does not keep his or her words would become known as unfaithful or untrustworthy. For example, if you are consistently prompt when you say that you will be someplace at a certain time then people will naturally expect you to arrive when you said that you would. If you are more than a few minutes late then they will tend to believe that something is wrong. After all, "George would have been here by now. He is never late." However, if you are the type of person that is always late, then when you are late people will assume that you are just late again. You could have been in a car accident but they will tend not to assume that and instead reckon that you are merely late again as usual.
Matthew 5:33-37 (NKJV) "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
A Christian should have so much integrity in their words that people should be able to take what we say at face value. We should not have to make elaborate promises in order to convince someone to trust us. Our word should be sufficient to solicit trust, which is based on the reputation that we have for being trustworthy. So you see it is very important that our words have integrity and are reliable. Others, including God, will not trust us if our words are not reliable and we are not trustworthy. See Matthew 25:14-30.
The Measure of Faithfulness
Faithfulness can be measured by evaluating the consistency of your words and what you do in regard to those words. A person that is consistent in doing what he or she says develops a reputation of being faithful. Now, of course a faithful person would simply be faithful and his or her actions would merely reflect what she or he is, namely trustworthy. An unfaithful person or a person that is not trustworthy will tend not to be trustworthy. So faithfulness is measured by the consistency between your words and what you do.
The Faithfulness of God
The Bible declares that God is faithful. This means that He is true to His word. If you promise something then He will do it and we can totally rely on that. Faith in God, for example, means that we totally trust Him to do what He says. Lamentations 3:23 declares that God is faithful. Consider the following Scriptures regarding the faithfulness or trustworthiness of God.
Also consider the stories of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6), Crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 3), and Deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 1-14). Above all consider that Jesus demonstrated his faithfulness by obeying God unto death for the salvation of you and I.
The bottom line is that God is trustworthy, which means that we can put our faith, trust, and hope in Him. Surely we trust Him to deliver on the fullness of our salvation in the future.
THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD LEADS TO TRUST
God has shown himself faithful. However, on a personal level we must learn to trust God. Of course we should obey God as a matter of fact. But when relationship is involved, it is good and expedient to have a reason to obey so that obedience is of the heart and not by compulsion or force. Therefore, God's faithfulness can be experienced by the individual, which would in turn compel us to trust Him and then obey. There are three ways that trust can be built or learned.
If we know and realize that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and of all things, then we would be inclined from that knowledge alone to do what He says. In other words, God's power and might, which would be considered as credentials, would cause us to want to obey Him. This is not trust in the strict sense but rather a fear or respect or reverence that we have of God where we give Him the benefit of the doubt and do what He says because "He's God."
We can take a chance and give someone an opportunity to trust them by the testimony of others. You might not know if a person is trustworthy but you will tend to trust that person if someone else whom you consider trustworthy or dependable vouches for the trustworthiness of that person. The Bible does this for us towards God. The Bible declares the trustworthiness of God by the testimonies of the biblical writers.
Experience is the sure way to learn to trust God and to obey Him. Regardless of whether our initial obedience or act of trust was based on credentials or testimonies of others, we still will experience God's faithfulness first hand. God is faithful and what He promises will come to pass. Therefore, His faithfulness will be demonstrated each time we trust Him and then obey Him.
An important aspect of God's faithfulness is that it cannot be fully realized if we do not obey Him. We cannot experience God's faithfulness unless we put Him to the test so to speak. I do what God says and consequently experience His faithfulness. That compels me to trust Him further and I experience more and more of His faithfulness, which compels me to obey Him more and more. Surely we can trust and then obey God merely because of His credentials so to speak. But how great it is to obey God because you really trust Him.
Another thing about the growing confidence that we gain from experiencing God's faithfulness is that we learn to rely on Him for our own lives. This will help us in times of trouble so that we don't worry and instead put our trust in Him. Regardless of how things turn out, we can know that God is faithful and we will not be destroyed. We can rest solely in the mercies of God to take care of us.
So the faithfulness of God compels us to trust Him as we learn personally that God is indeed trustworthy. This in turn leads to obedience, as we trust Him more. So the faithfulness of God leads ultimately to obedience and more trust.
GOD'S FAITHFULNESS COMPELS US TO BE FAITHFUL
The faithfulness of God also compels us to be faithful. The Christian is supposed to be Christ-like. We should show forth to the world the Way of God and the world should see the Kingdom of God within us. Therefore, as ambassadors for Christ, we should have the attributes of Christ. One of those attributes is faithfulness. Christians should be known for their faithfulness.
Are you a dependable person? When people think of you do they think of someone that will do what he or she says? Are you known for being late or tardy? Are you considered a person that will stick to what he or she believes? Your past activities have already been assimilated by many that you have interacted with and a judgment has been made concerning you. Either you are faithful or you are not. If you are the type that is always late and never on time then you are known to be unfaithful. If you are the type of person that says one thing and does another then you are considered by many to be unfaithful. It's that simply. Your standing as a faithful or unfaithful person is totally dependant on your past activities.
Now if we are to be Christ-like then we should be faithful. If we truly strive to live according to God's Kingdom then we should be faithful people. The faithfulness of God and our desire to please God compels us to be faithful like Him. We desire to be real representatives of God for the world to see. Faithfulness is a major attribute of God and one that we should posses and exude.
Faithfulness (trust) is earned. How does one become faithful? Simple. Do what you say you are going to do? The power of faithfulness is the consistency of your words with what you do, as we said previously in this lesson. If you actions are not consistent with your words then that demonstrates that you are unreliable, undependable, and unfaithful. The key here is to control what comes out of your mouth. First repent of your unfaithful ways and begin to do what you say you are going to do. Be frugal in the giving of your word until you are certain that you can make good on your promises.
When someone comments or questions you about your faithfulness and how you became so dependable, then you can simply inform them that it is the Spirit of God inside of you that has compelled you to live a life consistent with God's Way. So as Christians, we should strive to be faithful to God as well as to each other. We should exude an aura of faithfulness that is founded on responding to God's Spirit in you and treating your words with care.
So you see that faithful is the state of being trustworthy. God is faithful and His faithfulness is revealed in the Bible and can be experienced in our own lives when we obey Him. God's faithfulness compels us to trust Him as we learn that God is trustworthy through our experiences with Him. This compels us to trust and obey Him more and as a consequence, our confidence in Him continuously grows.
We also found that the faithfulness of God compels us to be faithful people. This means that we will do what we say, since faithfulness is dependant on the consistency of your words with the corresponding actions of those words. If you do what you say then you will be measured as a faithful person and if not then you will be known as someone that can't be trusted.
So I encourage you to be a faithful person. If you tell someone that you will be there at a particular time then be there at that time. In short, do what you say and respond to the faithfulness of God by implementing it in your own life. Amen.
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