When you have grown in faith, what will you be like? I am sure many descriptions come to mind, but one that usually doesn’t is central to the process: you will become faithful.
Perhaps a statement of contrast would help: if you are not faithful, you are faithless! In the New Testament, the same Greek word is translated “faith” and “faithful” depending on the context. They are closely connected.
This is an important issue for the believer. Our faith is based on the faithfulness of God—He is faithful so our faith can safely rest in Him! We may be faithless, but He will not. One of our great comforts is the testimony of Jeremiah, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:21-23)
This essential aspect of God’s character is an evidence of one who walks in the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It is also a distinctive adjective used of God’s choice servants like Timothy as it is required of all servants of Christ (1 Cor. 4:2). It is the assessment we should most long to hear from our Savior when our work on earth is done: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21)
Faithfulness is a priority because it is a great contrast to what we were without Christ when we were faithless—lacking both faith and faithfulness. Our fickle inconsistency is more than overcome by God’s consistent faithfulness (1 John 1:9). Our testimony in life ought to be that we were faithful to death (Rev. 2:10), reflecting the basic character of the One we call “Lord” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14).
Faithfulness is becoming hard to find among God’s people these days. Many seem to avoid the issue by avoiding commitments—as if not making commitments were superior to not keeping commitments we make. In the end, doing nothing is not being “faithful!” No one is called to do everything, and no one is called to do nothing.
It was not that long ago when serving the Lord meant being faithful for decades. Now it is measured in weeks or even days. It seems like taking a responsibility for 13 weeks is a major trial! Doing something for a couple of hours once a month is too heavy for some to bear! The highest goal is no longer to hear Jesus say, “Well done!” but to be sure that we all have a good time. After all, isn’t this the standard applied to making commitments: “I don’t enjoy …”
The people God uses significantly are people who stay at their ministry faithfully, “in season and out of season.” These are the people we thank God for bringing into our lives. The rest are “what’s his name” or “that woman who filled in.” Some of us will live in the church’s history as forgotten names in the printed records; others have their identity indelibly imprinted on the souls of children, teens and adults they have invested in at great personal sacrifice. Which will you be?
Taking on a ministry for the long haul at personal cost should not be unusual. We have choice servants who make worship happen 52 weeks per year! Others have taught for decades, often 2-3 times per week in different contexts and programs for 20-40 years. All who are effective invest time in preparation on top of their “in the spotlight” times. You think of them with fondness and great memories. Are you becoming one of them?
Who will build the memories of faithfulness for the new generations? God is faithful, day in and day out, year after year, through every decade, century and generation. Are we reflecting Him and His character accurately? Growing in grace will always mean growing in faithfulness.