God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his 1 Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9
When you were a kid, and you reneged on some commitment you made to one of your friends, I’ll bet you heard this angry protest: “You promised!” Why? Because you hadn’t been true to your word.
True to your word. That is a clear, concise, accurate definition of what it means to be a faithful person. If you’re faithful, there is consistency between your words and your works, between what you believe and how you behave, between what you promise and what you perform. If someone believes they can trust you and you prove faithful, you will increase their faith in you and strengthen the bond between you. If you prove unfaithful, you will deservedly be on the receiving end of an angry protest from someone who believed they could trust you. And you will damage, perhaps even destroy, a precious relationship.
The Bible defines faithfulness the same way. When Scripture describes a person as “faithful,” it’s almost never referring to how much faith that person possesses, but to how much faith others can place in that person—how much others can trust him or her to perform what has been promised. A faithful person honors, cherishes, maintains, and guards the faith of those who put their trust in them.
That’s exactly what we mean when we say, “God is faithful.” As Christians, we’re saying that God the Father is “able to do what he [has] promised” (Rom. 4:21), that God the Son, the “Word of God” incarnate, is “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11, 13), and that God the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (1 John 4:6), will not—because he cannot—lie (Heb. 6:18). We’re declaring our belief that God honors, cherishes, maintains, and guards the faith of those who put their trust in him by keeping his promises to them— that he is true to his word.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
A faithful person honors, cherishes, maintains, and guards the faith of those who put their trust in him by keeping his promises to them. God’s always like this. You and I, on the other hand . . . well, let’s just say this proverb was written about people like us:
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find? (Prov. 20:6)
If we’re honest, we’ll admit this proverbial shoe has fit at times. If we’re rigorously honest, we’ll admit this shoe fits more often than we care to admit. The truth hurts.
But God knows us, and when he wounds his children with a truth, his purpose is to heal us (Hos. 6:1) and set us free ( John 8:32). Our Father is faithful to keep his promise to conform us to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29), the “faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5). And he does this, not by downloading faithfulness into us like a software upgrade, but by “training us . . . to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Like all training, growing in faithfulness is an arduous process. God teaches us to build our capacity for faithfulness much like we build our capacities for anything: by exercising what we want to grow.
We all like the idea of a stronger, slimmer body, or becoming proficient in a skill, or building more effective habits for more sustained productivity. But no transformation happens without starting the painful work of exercising what’s weak and staying with it until it grows stronger.
God is faithful to teach us faithfulness so that we increasingly—like him—honor, cherish, maintain, and guard the faith of those who put their trust in us by being truer to our word.
The same is true of faithfulness. We all like the idea of being true to the love we’ve proclaimed, the commitments we’ve made, and the responsibilities God has entrusted to us. But if unfaithfulness has become a sinful habit in a certain area, because selfishness has taken root and we lack the fortitude to swear to our own hurt and not change (Ps. 15:4), no transformation will occur without the hard, painful work of exercising faithfulness.
The good news is that God has provided us everything we need to start exercising today. We begin with what we’ve been given. Our training regimen is structured around Psalm 37:3: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” Today’s exercises in befriending faithfulness are to do whatever it takes for us to trust in the Lord for the grace to diligently do good to the people and through the responsibilities he’s entrusted to us, in the place (land) we find ourselves, with the resources he provides. And to do our “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23).
God is faithful to teach us faithfulness so that we increasingly—like him—honor, cherish, maintain, and guard the faith of those who put their trust in us by being truer to our word. And he will teach us here, in the “land” where he’s placed us. And if we befriend faithfulness here, someday our Master will say to us, “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. 25:23).
Father, thank you for being faithful to teach me faithfulness. Today, whatever it takes, help me trust you fully and “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10), where you have placed me and with the resources you provide.
by Jon Bloom
Fight the good fight . . . one day at a time . . . by leaning into God. Life is full of storms. It’s full of broken hearts—and promises....
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