Vol. 8, No. 5
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Faithfulness is usually associated with one's attendance. While it is true ones faithfulness is evident through attendance, or lack thereof, there is more involved in the Bible concept of being faithful. Even the English dictionary has the right idea--"keeping faith; maintaining allegiance; constant; loyal…reliable" (Agnes 510). God views faithfulness, as will be shown through the Scriptures, as a way of life.
The English word faithful is found in the King James Version of the Bible fifty-four times. Every occurrence comes from the same Greek word, which means "believing, trusting, relying" (Vine's). The same Greek word is used sixty-six times in the King James Version and also translated into various forms of believe, sure and true. The concept of faithfulness carries the meaning of "dependability, loyalty, and stability" (Nelson's).
Faith is an action verb. Likewise, faithfulness indicates a lifestyle of action. Faithfulness is commonly used to show God's relationship with mankind (Psalm 89). God is faithful, or trustworthy, to fulfill the promises he has set forth (Deuteronomy 7:9). The history of God's relationship with man shows God is reliable. He will do what he says he will do.
Likewise, God requires man to be faithful to God. God requires us to rely on him. Consider Micah 6:8, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" As Micah addressed the Israelites, he told them exactly what God required of them--to walk humbly. The Hebrew word used for walk simply means to walk or carry (New Exhaustive). It refers to the manner one carries in his daily walk of life, which is to be a walk of humility. Humility is having a lowly attitude, the opposite of proud (New Exhaustive). The preposition "with" shows it is to be a lowly lifestyle "in conjunction with" God (New Exhaustive). The people were to walk with God, as did Enoch and Noah before them (Genesis 5:22, 24; 6:9). Hebrews 11:5-7 shows walking with God is obedience, which is pleasing to God. Walking humbly with God is conforming to the will of God (Romans 12:1-2). After all, obedience to God shows our love for God (John 14:15). In addition, it is considered "the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Continued obedience to God can only be done through humility (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). A humble spirit is necessary to conform to God's will, walking with him in our everyday lives. Thereby, man can be faithful to God.
The Scriptures also teach man to arrange things of life into order of importance. Clearly, God is to be at the top of the list. Consider Colossians 3:1-2. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Seek means "to try to get or find out by asking or searching" (Guralnik) or to diligently search out. Setting ones affections indicates "exercising the mind" or "to interest oneself in" (New Exhaustive). The phrase things above clearly indicates spiritual things while the things on the earth represent the physical things of life. Quite simply, we are to put God and spiritual things before the physical distractions of life. If we truly do this, we are being faithful to God.
A similar passage in Matthew 6:33 relays the same truth. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." The same Greek word is used for seek as in the Colossian passage, thus the same meaning, "to try to get or find out by asking or searching" (Guralnik). First indicates the order of importance--"before any others" (Guralnik). Kingdom of God and his righteousness represents the spiritual things of life. As the context illustrates, if one focuses on the spiritual aspects of life, God will provide the physical. Jesus used these words to encourage the people to live a life of faithfulness.
Notice Matthew 6:20-21 as well. "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." To lay up means "to amass or reserve" (New Exhaustive). Since our most valued treasure is our soul, we must live a life that will ensure our soul's place in heaven. Again we see the importance of focusing on the spiritual things of life.
As has already been determined, faithfulness is a way of life. Part of that faithful life is our attendance. Do the Scriptures say "Thou shalt attend worship on Sunday morning and evening...Thou shalt attend Bible class on Sunday and Wednesday...Thou shalt attend Gospel Meetings..."? Obviously, the answer is no. We are commanded to worship on the first day of every week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Consider, however, that we are to place God and spiritual things as a priority in our lives (Colossians 3:1-2; Matthew 6:33). Is attending the services of the church placing God first in our lives? In addition, the elders of the congregation are given the duty of feeding and watching over the congregation (1 Peter 5:1-3). Further, the congregation is under subjection to the elders (1 Peter 5:5). If the elders deem it necessary to have Bible classes for the feeding of the flock, should not the flock attend those Bible classes in order to be fed?
At the same time, one must also realize, as is the focus of the lesson as a whole, just because one attends all available services, it does not mean that individual is faithful. One's faithfulness is dependent on everyday activities. Consider the words of Christ: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
A very common verse used in association with faithfulness is the latter portion of Revelation 2:10, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The context, actually the same verse, speaks of the trials and tribulations of Christians. The promise is then made: If you endure the trials and tribulations with steadfastness and faith, you will be rewarded. The term crown of life is here used to describe that reward. It is a reference to the reward of heaven. First Peter 5:4 tells us this reward "fadeth not away." Paul refers to this reward as a "crown of righteousness" (1 Timothy 4:8). It will be given by the Lord to those who love him when he returns as Judge. The crown of life is our reward in heaven for all of eternity.
Hebrews 6:18-20 reveals a consolation we have through hope. Consolation is comfort (Vine's). The hope is the "favorable and confident expectation…[which] describes (a) the happy anticipation of good...[and] (b) the ground upon which 'hope' is based" (Vine's). Titus 1:2 tells us our hope is eternal life. First Timothy 1:1 tells us our hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. First Peter 1:21 melds it all together, revealing the resurrection of Christ is the basis of the hope we have for eternal life. The Hebrews passage tells us God, who cannot lie, has made promises to the faithful, eternal life, which he will keep. The condition to the promise, however, is our continued faithfulness.
Faithfulness is more than our attendance to the services of the church. Faithfulness is how we live our everyday lives. The Scriptures teach us faithfulness to God is continued obedience to his Word. The very definition of the Greek word translated as faithful indicates we are to rely on God. Christians have a responsibility to continue in obedience. Christians have a responsibility to continue to seek God. When we neglect to do either one of these things, we lose the reward of faithfulness.
Agnes, Michael. Webster's New World College Dictionary. 4th ed. Foster City: IDG Books Worldwide, 2001.
Guralnik, David. Webster's New World Dictionary. New York: Avenel Books, 1978.
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Nashville: Nelson, 1986.
New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.