Galatians 5:22, 23—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The dictionary defines faithfulness as strict or thorough in the performance of duty; true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.; steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant; reliable, trusted, or believed. The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis. In the Galatians passage, the focus is on the concept of trustworthiness, trustfulness, and reliability.
It’s the concept of living the truth of God’s message in our lives. It’s committing ourselves to Jesus Christ and then letting the reality of that faith permeate our lives on a daily basis. It’s being faithful to the life God has called us to. In a practical way it’s the quality of being true, trustworthy, and reliable in our dealings with others. Faithfulness is also being full of faith, strong or firm in one’s beliefs, loyal, constant in the performance of duties or services, true to one’s work, reliable, and dependable.
God alone has always been faithful to us, without fail. Because of His perfect character, He cannot be anything but faithful. Lamentations 3:22, 23—Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. God is faithful to us because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. Jesus was judged for our sins. Sin is no longer an issue. God’s faithfulness does not depend on what we do or don’t do. Isn’t that a relief? He has set up His plan so that He is free to be faithful to us. It goes back to the cross.
Romans 5:8—But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God is faithful to both believers and non-believers. We are kept alive and have all that we do because of God’s faithfulness to us. He gives us everything that we need for our physical lives and our spiritual lives. We just have to make choices. God does not force anything on us. The issue for every non-believer is, “What do you think of the Lord Jesus Christ?” The issue for the believer is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and learn, believe, and use Bible doctrine. Of course God wants everyone to become believers and to know His faithfulness.
Acts 16:31—So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
1 John 1:9—If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God’s faithfulness is shown when our faith is being tested. God will not allow us to be tested or tempted beyond what we can handle. He always provides the opportunity to obtain the knowledge necessary to pass each test before it comes. Therefore, the Word is our way of escape from each test, and that Word is provided by the faithfulness of God. Don’t quit on God.
1 Corinthians 10:13—No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Even when we fail, God is faithful to us. If we don’t get back on the right track through the misery we bring on ourselves, He will discipline us. He knows what we need in that department. God never quits on us. By the way, Paul wrote that verse while he was in prison, so he knew a thing or two about having his limits stretched.
Psalm 119:65-68—You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes.
We can see how God has been faithful to us time and again. Think of how many times you dug a pit for yourself and the grace and faithfulness of God pulled you out. Think of how many times you were worried about something and the grace and faithfulness of God helped you overcome that worry. We can always trust in God to help us.
Deuteronomy 7:9—Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
God has made many, many, many promises to us. The Bible is full of promises. God is faithful in each of His promises. We need to learn these promises, believe them, and trust in God. If we do this, we will be relaxed and have the faith rest God wants us to have. This Scripture (in Hebrews) warns us about missing out on this faith and rest that God gives. Hebrews 4:1—Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
Jesus has taught us through His word how to be faithful friends. We have learned that a true friend can be trusted. He won’t lie or gossip about his friends. Proverbs 17:9—He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. A true friend is reliable. He can be counted on to do what he says he will do. Proverbs 17:17—A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. A true friend will be encouraging. He will not judge. A true friend is faithful.
Like all the other parts of the fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness grows in us because of the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, learning biblical doctrine, believing and living it, we will gradually see changes in the way we act. We become faithful because of the faithfulness of God.
Paul would not agree with the Greek philosopher Plato that virtue comes by recalling innate ideas; nor would he affirm the position of Aristotle that a virtuous life is the result of good habits alone. No, knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it are at opposing ends of the spectrum. The fruit of faithfulness needs to be cultivated. We must continually resolve to be faithful to God, family, friends, and our spheres of influence and intentionally put faithfulness into practice until it becomes a lifestyle.
Faithfulness is also trustworthiness. That is reflected in the concept of a “trustee” in connection with stewardship. In 1 Corinthians 4:1 we are told, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” A Christian is responsible to be a good steward of the truths God reveals, and to minister these truths in a reliable manner to those who will be taught. The Christian must also be faithful to the recipients.
If we were not required to account for our actions, responsibility would be meaningless. We must give an account of our time, talents, homes, bodies, speech, and possessions. We must be accountable for everything God has entrusted to us. If our faithfulness can be shown in small matters, it will stand the test of greater responsibility.
True leadership is achieved in selfless service to others and is wrapped in humility. One can have selfish ambition to control others, to enjoy power for power’s sake, and to be manipulative in control of other people. Jesus gave a different standard to His followers. The one who would be the greatest shall be the servant of all.
Being faithful requires personal resolve not to wander away from commitments or promises. It’s not always easy to be faithful. Christian faith requires trust in God. Isaiah 25:1—O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Ephesians 3:16, 17—that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…
Challenge: How faithful are we in example, reliability, and stewardship? Take stock of yourself this week. Think about the amount of time you spend on things other than God. Are you faithful to God with your talent, time, resources, etc.? Seek to give more of yourself to God, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable the sacrifice may be.