We may define “faithfulness” in a few different ways – being full of faith, having a true conviction, being dependable or loyal. In Galatians 5:16, Paul begins speaking of behaviors we should avoid and those we should adopt. In this, in verse 22, he considers faithfulness a fruit of the spirit, a quality we should have as godly people. What kind of faith do we have, and are we full of that faith?
Faith is a topic we are familiar with. For example, we can turn to Hebrews 11 for a definition of faith and many examples of people who lived in faith. We can look at I Timothy 4:12 where Paul exhorts Timothy to remain faithful in his ministries. Also, we know there are degrees of faith. In John 12:42, some believed in Christ but felt pressured to avoid confessing Him, and, in James 2:22, the author speaks of a perfected faith.
How Do I Develop Faithfulness?
We need faith to be pleasing to God, and it is the cornerstone of our belief system, so it is imperative to develop faith in our lives. Romans 10:17 informs us that filling ourselves with God’s word will fill us with faith. Romans 1:16 speaks of the power of God working in those who live by faith – from faith unto faith. Many other passages throughout the New Testament tie faith and knowledge together. To believe, one must know in what he or she believes.
Jude verse 3 speaks of faith needing to be put into action and experienced. It is more than a simple acknowledgment. It requires implementation in our lives. In James 2:21-24, Abraham is referenced as an illustration of one who lived by his faith, putting into action the belief system he held. Abraham believed God, and he put that faith into action on many occasions. In II Peter 1:5, we are instructed to give diligence to our faith, to work on it and add godly qualities to it. Hebrews 11 offers many example of those who put faith into action.
Prayer is also necessary to developing faithfulness. In Mark 9:24, a father of an epileptic child cries out to Jesus that he believes, asking for help with his faltering faith. We can ask our Father to increase our faith, and we can use prayer (and study) to encourage others and build one another up – again exercising the faith we have in encouraging our growth and that of others.
In I Thessalonians 5:24 and many other verses, God is described as faithful in the sense of being dependable and reliable. In Exodus, He delivers His people time and again from adversity and threatening situations. He continually provides for His people even when they are rebellious toward Him. In Genesis 3, He promises deliverance from Satan through the seed of woman, and this is fulfilled in the gospels. In Psalm 16:10, the resurrection in fulfilled, and Jesus trusted in God to raise Him, to be faithful in His promises and in His plan.
We are supposed to emulate qualities God demonstrates. II Timothy 2:21 describes as needing to be useful and prepared to do our Master’s work. Can God count on me? Am I useful and dependable to Him? In I Thessalonians 1:2-3, Paul describes the efforts the members of that congregation put forth in their service of God. They demonstrated dependability, and we should be similar. We should not be wasteful of the resources and the opportunities God gives us. Rather, we should put those to use.
This reliability extends to one another. We are to be faithful to each other. In Hebrews 11:39-40, the author ends this chapter on faith by citing our responsibility to those faithful saints that came before us. In Ecclesiastes 4:12, we are encouraged to stick together, making each other stronger in the faith we share with each other. Our faithfulness to each other helps each other live how we should and continue our journey to Heaven.
lesson by Tim Smelser