Part of a series: Examining the Fruits of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
How the Bible Defines Faithfulness
Faith’s primary meaning is “firm persuasion.” The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis. William Barclay explains:
This word (pistis) is common in secular Greek for trustworthiness. It is the characteristic of the man who is reliable…Pistos is indeed a great word. It describes the man on whose faithful service we may rely, on whose loyalty we may depend, whose word we can unreservedly accept…It describes the man in whom there is the unswerving and inflexible fidelity of Jesus Christ, and the utter dependability of God.”
Synonyms for faithful include dedicated, steadfast, devoted, dependable, accurate, true, conscientious, dutiful, careful, scrupulous and thorough.
Emunah is the Hebrew word for faith. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward God’s will.
Understanding this can cast a new light on the New Testament “faith versus works.” We are not saved by works or even by our faith but instead we are saved by emunah, i.e. God’s faithfulness or Christ’s faithfulness to being obedient to death. Dwight Pryor explains:
Because of the Father’s amazing grace and the Son’s fervent faithfulness we are reconciled to the Father and joined to the family of God as adopted sons and daughters…
To the Hebrew mind, faith is more than belief in something; it is faithfulness to someone. Yes, emunah is related to the word for truth and it does imply trust or belief. But it is more than mental assent to truthful propositions or the confidence that comes from intellectual conviction. Faith is fully Hebraic only when it is fully faithful. Perhaps we could render it this way: it is “faith/fulness.” Biblical faith is both trust and trustworthiness; both conviction and persistent determination. But it stands or falls on the foundation of faithfulness. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” ( Consider Abraham)
How God Reveals Faithfulness
Faithfulness, is one of the main character traits of God. God is faithful not only to save us but also to sanctify us. “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” Sanctification, like salvation, is a work of God. God has committed Himself to accomplish this work. Just as we cannot save ourselves, so we cannot sanctify ourselves. Sanctification is not simply trying to be good. Sanctification is God working in our lives. God does not to allow us to be tempted beyond that we are able to bear (1 Co 10:13) God protects us from the evil one. (2 Th 3:30)
O LORD God of hosts, who is like Thee, O mighty LORD? Thy faithfulness (emunah) surrounds Thee (Psalms 89:8 ).
This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness (emunah). (Lam. 3:21-23)
God is wholly holy. He never changes. Because He is faithful, we can trust Him and His promises without wavering,. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23). Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens: and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds (Psalm. 36:5). Thy faithfulness is unto all generations… (Psalm. 119:90)
God’s commitment is bound by what He is and that He can never be any less His own consistent and uniform self. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
Evidence of Faithfulness
We show God our faithfulness by obeying Him. His heart becomes our heart; His mind our mind; His will our will. God actively looks for faithfulness in His children. Jesus explained in a parable. “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:21).
Examples of Faithfulness
The book of Hebrews sums up the great faith in the Bible in chapter 11:
- o By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.
- o By faith Enoch was taken from this life,
- o By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.
- o By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land…By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father … By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.
- o By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
- o By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
- o By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
- o By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
- o By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
- o By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
- o By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
- o By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.e
- o And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Jesus is the supreme example of faithfulness. He always did God’s will and spoke God’s words. He had only one desire, “…not my will, but thine, be done.”–Luke 22:42
How Faithfulness Affect Others
To please God we must live life so as to please Him and not ourselves. Part of being faithful to God begins with faithfulness toward family, faithfulness on our job, and faithfulness in financial transactions. We must be faithful now with all that has been entrusted to us.
Proverbs 31 relates the husband’s perspective of faithfulness: “The heart of her husband trusts in her” (31:11). This husband sees his wife as trustworthy, which allows him to work away from home, confident in her faithfulness, integrity, discretion, and care for all his interests. The context implies that she is responsible for a substantial home with abundant resources. Yet her husband is not at all anxious about leaving her with such a responsibility because he knows that his well-being is her concern, his comfort her passion, and his burdens hers to relieve. (MacArthur, Different by Design)
How to Express more Faithfulness in your Character
By meditating on the faithfulness of God and of Jesus Christ as well as the faithfulness of the Bible heroes, we learn ways in which we can begin obeying God more completely, thus “abiding” in Christ, our true vine (John 15).
Through Bible study and prayer we desire to be more like Jesus, living like Him, and growing in our faith with actions. Paul describes the fruit of the spirit as growing in us in proportion as we walk in the spirit rather than in the flesh.
We become faithful by obedience to God’s Word. “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way he shall serve me.” (Psalm. 101:6) Our focus must be on pleasing God in words and actions, rather than pleasing self. This will manifest a godly and Christ-like character through the Holy Spirit.
For More Encouragement
- Emunah: Faith and Faithfulness – Excellent article by Glenn Blank
- Fruit of the Spirit Posts – previous post on this blog
- Are You Prepared for Self Control? (Have You Ever Had One of Those Days?)
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