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"A dog is a man’s best friend” is a commonly known phrase, this is because we associate loyalty to a dog who is a friend no matter what. When we think of the word “faithfulness,” many of us have this picture of a dog who is faithful to a master. A dog may sense our emotions but wouldn’t know the difference if we said something cruel to them in a nice voice or spoke to them in love with the same voice.
The Scriptures on the other hand describe One who sees and understands what is wrong with us, and despite all of our failings as a people of God, He still loves us because we are His. The best of all friends sees more than what is on the outside. Our God looks beyond the depths of our depraved hearts and offers in exchange for our trust, His complete, forgiveness and acceptance through His son Jesus Christ. This is faithfulness.
The Faithfulness of God
When Paul wrote of faithfulness as part of the fruit of the Spirit, he meant fidelity and trustworthiness toward God and toward others. Faithfulness is revealed in the character of God, exemplified in the Son of God, and cultivated in the lives of God’s children by the Spirit of God. Though the surrounding culture is rapt with unfaithfulness, Christians are to live differently because they belong to God himself.1
God has certainly been faithful to his covenant promises throughout the ages. In this respect, Paul writes: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Cor. 1:20). In other words, Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promises, he manifests the faithfulness of the triune Lord. And if faithfulness marks our covenant Lord, then it should also mark His people since we are being renewed in the image of Christ.
‘The Bible laments our lack of this kind of righteousness, for only Christ meets this standard (Rom. 3:21–22a; 2 Cor. 5:21). When we trust in Jesus alone, His merit is imputed to our account, and we are justified in God’s sight. Even though we will not perfectly practice God’s law in this life, those who have been justified will live uprightly. We will bear holy fruit, loving God and neighbour, if we have true faith (James 2:14–26).’ This is reflected in Christ’s righteousness being magnified by our sanctification day after day.
FAITHFULNESS OF THE SAINTS IN SCRIPTURE
Let’s look at a few examples from Scripture.
Noah was Faithful in a godless world. 2 Peter 2:5 says: “if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly…”
The sin of the ancient civilization is described in Genesis 6:5: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Yet Noah preached righteousness for 120 years. But was Noah perfect? In what way was he a herald of righteousness?
Noah bore fruit because of the finished work of Christ from eternity past which resulted in him being sanctified, so he could love God and his neighbour. ‘This is the kind of righteousness that Noah possessed, one that comes from walking with God (Ps. 1). Compared to his generation, Noah did practice real goodness, even though his obedience was imperfect and not the basis of his justification. As a result of God’s grace, we manifest this experiential righteousness, and it will be brought to completion in our glorification.’3
Today as Christians, as agents of God’s Great Commission we are pulled to and fro by the world, but do we herald God and His Son in the same manner?
Esther became queen of Persia in dangerous times. It can be easy to read the story of Esther through a modern-day lens, as a fairy tale story of ascent to royalty or an account of a beauty pageant winner becoming queen.
But Esther’s context is vital to understanding the meaning and value of her story.
- She was a subject of the king, and
- She was a Jew. She lived in a hostile context, as a minority with little-to-no power or influence.
Esther had genuine faith & risked her life, she goes as far as saying, “If I perish, I perish”. She believed that God would answer her prayer and she was faithful to Him.
The book of Esther offers us an example of how imperfect, yet faithful people can continue to live faithfully in a culture that does not acknowledge God. It helps us train our eyes to see God at work through faithful people in unfaithful situations.
It also reminds us that as God’s people, we have a responsibility to use whatever he has given us in order to be his agents of justice in an unjust world. Mordecai is an example of this when he tells Esther, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Peter's faithfulness was evident in his immediate response to Jesus' call. Leaving behind his former life, he embraced a new path with unwavering determination. Throughout his time as a disciple, Peter witnessed countless miracles and heard profound teachings that deepened his faith.
However, Peter's faithfulness was not without its trials. In a moment of weakness, he denied knowing Jesus three times, betraying his Lord just as Jesus had predicted. Yet, despite his failure, Peter's faithfulness shone through. He was not defined by his mistakes but by his unwavering love for Jesus.
Following Jesus' resurrection, Peter experienced forgiveness and restoration. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he fearlessly preached the Gospel, leading many to embrace the faith.
In a world marked by divisions, dissensions, and jealousy, God’s children should be marked by loyalty and dependability. All too often, however, God’s people are marked by faithlessness.
Husbands and wives vow to be faithful to one another and then break those vows. Husbands, for example, may not go out and engage a prostitute, but the scores of pornographic images on their computers display their infidelity.
Many times, Christians are faithless in their work ethic and no different than the unbelieving world. They are late to work, leave work early, pilfer company property, or use company resources for personal gain. To say the least, this type of conduct should never mark God’s people. We should be a people faithful to the Lord and faithful to our word. Our loyalties must begin and end with Christ and reflect him in all that we do.
When we look back over our lives, we often find that the Lord was present during our tough times all along when we thought He was absent. During times when we suffer from doubts about God’s love for us, we should not focus on whether or not we “feel” His presence. The Lord may choose to hide Himself for a time, but He never leaves us. Those with persevering faith trust that God is present and directing their lives even if He seems to be a million kilometres away.
Maybe you are reading this article with some doubt about the faithfulness of God. Perhaps you’ve come out of a circumstance in your life that has been particularly pressing and difficult. God is faithful in all of his dealings - no mistakes, no shadows due to turning. He sweeps even the bad stuff into the unfolding drama of his purpose to make us fruitful and make us like Jesus, so that the character of God is then revealed in the Son of God. All the fullness of the godhead that dwells in bodily form is found in Jesus who dwells among His people.