What does it Mean to be Faithful?
By Mike Maney
Text: 1 Corinthians 4:2
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
Text: Matthew 25:20, 21
“And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. (21) His lord said unto him, Well done, thou 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.”
Today we are going to examine the subject of faithfulness. Certainly the Bible is all about the need for God’s people to be faithful to Him. In our texts we note basically two things as pertains to faithfulness on our part:
1. First, we see that it is not optional, but rather is required;
2. Secondly, we see its worth to us when Jesus rewards those for having been faithful;
But just what does the word faithful entail? What is the concept of faithfulness? When discussing the idea of “faithfulness” the best and most obvious place to start is with God.
The Hebrew word, em-oo-nah, often translated as “faithful,” comes from a root word meaning “firm” or “steady.”
Note two passages below where this Hebrew word is translated as "steady" and as "faithfulness" --
“But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” (Exodus 17:12)
Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite. I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. (2) For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. (3) I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, (4) Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah. (5) And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints." (Psalm 89:1-5)
Yahweh, the Role Model for Faithfulness
The Scriptures state that God Himself is first and foremost faithful in all that He says and does. “Faithful in doing what?” you may ask. He is faithful in keeping His covenants (promises) and mercy with His people;
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Not only is God faithful to His eternal covenant purpose, but He is also faithful to His covenant people in forgiving and cleansing them of their sins;
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
And realizing their shortcomings and weaknesses, God is even faithful in making sure that when His people are tempted, not only will He protect them from being tempted beyond their capacity to refuse but will also provide a way to escape.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)
Jesus Likewise Demonstrated Faithfulness
Just as the invisible Yahweh was faithful to keep His covenants with His people in the Old Testament, so is He just as faithful to keep His covenant with His people who serve under the New Testament. How so? Through the only visible representation of Himself – His Son Jesus Christ;
Jesus is called the Faithful and True One
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” (Revelation 19:11)
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” (Revelation 1:5)
What about Our being Faithful to God?
Okay, so we have discussed the fact of God’s faithfulness, and the faithfulness of His dear Son -- now what about us? What does the Bible have to say about our reciprocating the same characteristic of faithfulness in order to bestow honor upon our Lord?
Below are several passages dealing with our faithfulness toward God. As you study them, it should be noted that all of the characteristics together actually demonstrate God’s definition of “faithfulness” on the part of His covenant people. Thus through practicing all of them we hope to be regarded as faithful stewards of God – and to hear those blessed words from Jesus, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”
OBEDIENCE TO GOD — 1 Samuel 2:35
“And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.”
Here God describes what faithful actually means; it is doing that which is in agreement with God‘s heart and mind.
GOD-FEARING — Nehemiah 7:2
“That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.”
Again, we are given a further description of a faithful man — one who is God-fearing.
FAITHFUL TO THE COVENANT — Psalm 78:37
“For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.”
NOTE: The KJV uses the word “steadfast” whereas the NKJV uses the word “faithful.”
We must understand that one‘s being "faithful" to God means being faithful to the covenant that He made.
WALKING PERFECT BEFORE GOD — Psalm 101:6
“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.”
God’s eyes are upon the faithful among His people; those who are walking in a perfect (upright) way before God. God is watching them as they will one day dwell with Him and continue to serve Him in His everlasting kingdom.
TREATING OTHERS RIGHT — Proverbs 11:13
“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
Another characteristic of those whom God will deem faithful is that of being faithful in our relationship with others. Quite often when we think of being faithful to God we usually don’t relate it to how we treat one another, but we should.
As mentioned earlier, faithfulness is not any one but rather all of these qualities that have been mentioned. God expects us to treat others with love and respect just as we seek to do the same with God.
Therefore, God regards one as faithful when he is faithful to a friend (see also: Proverb 27:6)
TELLS THE TRUTH — Proverbs 14:5
A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
God’s people need to be an honest people. We know that God hates lying. In this passage the idea may be more along the lines of one who is called upon as a witness to whether an accused man is guilty of some sin or not. A true witness will not lie about what he saw or heard, nor will he accept bribes. He will simply reveal what he knows of the situation in a totally honest way.
FAITHFUL IN MUCH OR LEAST — Luke 16:10
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
The basic principle is that the quality of faithfulness in an individual is there no matter if the call for faithfulness is great or small. It is a matter of one’s own heart and attitude.
EXAMPLES OF FAITHFUL MEN
In addition to describing what constitutes faithfulness in the eyes of God, the Bible gives us real-life examples of men and women who demonstrated what faithfulness is. Paul recounted numerous examples to the Hebrew Christians in his epistle to them (Hebrews 11).
Space would not allow me to list all or even a small list of faithful men and women, but there are two men in particular that I would like to point out as a model of true faithfulness — Daniel and Moses.
Daniel — One would have to read the book of Daniel to perhaps appreciate just how faithful Daniel was in all the years he spent in captivity. He was so humble in spirit, yet used of God.
“Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” Daniel 6:4
Moses — what can we say of him that people don’t already know? Against all “odds” he is preserved alive by God to become a prince of Egypt then a servant of Jehovah. He willingly turned down the prestigious position of ruler over Egypt to be identified with the Hebrew slaves. What faith!
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” (Hebrews 3:1-3)
Remaining Faithful ‘till Jesus Comes
This quality of faithfulness that we stress today will be the same quality that the Lord will have been looking for and will thereby reward when He comes to judge His people.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou 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.” (Matthew 25:21)
Notice too that the Lord doesn’t exact too much out of His people in order for Him to regard them as faithful. “thou hast been faithful over a few things…” He told them. Some of God’s people may think that the Lord exacts too much, and it such an attitude shows up in their service.
It certainly was the attitude reflected by the man receiving the one talent;
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:” (Matthew 25:24)
It is only when we view the Lord’s work as a blessing and not a burden that we will be counted faithful to Him. Another passage which speaks of a reward for remaining faithful to Christ in all circumstances is found in the book of Revelation. Here again, we see the emphasis upon the characteristic of being faithful and what the Lord considers as being faithful to Him.
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
The question of who will be raptured up off the earth to go and meet Jesus in the air is easily answered by the Scriptures. Somehow many have come to believe that their merely having been saved from hell constitutes their being caught up to meet Christ in the clouds, but what does the Bible actually reveal?
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)
So, what do we now know about this matter of being faithful? We know that the Lord is going to reward those who were faithful
And we know that faithfulness is more than just outward acts and more than just an inward attitude — it is BOTH COMBINED!
We must be faithful to believe what Jesus taught and not change that Truth.
Yet, while believing the Truth, we must be careful to demonstrate the very principle of that Truth in our daily lives toward one another. That is what the Lord will regard as being faithful.