Faithful!

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The Bible instructs us to be like God, but many attributes of His we cannot attain to or even mimic: His eternality, His knowledge of all, His power over all, His transcending presence, and His perfection, to name a few. But some attributes we may properly aspire to, such as His loving-kindness, mercy, grace, and faithfulness.

Interestingly, although the Bible implies the faithfulness of various people in its pages, it refers directly to only a few. In the Old Testament, Abraham, Moses, and David are called faithful (Nehemiah 9:8; Numbers 12:7; 1 Kings 3:6). In the New Testament, Timothy and other ministers of the gospel are referred to the same way (1 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 4:7-12).

But most often Scripture contrasts God’s faithfulness with human faithlessness, as in Nehemiah 9:33: “You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly.” Or as Paul states in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”

No wonder the Bible asks, “A faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6, KJV). I don’t know about you, but I let people down, and a chain with even one broken link is still broken. I don’t see myself as faithful, at least not in the way that I think the Bible means the term when it asks the question. I think I’m reliable; I surely strive to be. Reliability is part of faithfulness, but to be faithful is more than just being reliable. It’s elusive. That’s why Proverbs 20:6 wonders if such a person can be found.

The truth is, we find only one fully faithful person in the Bible: God’s own Son, our “merciful and faithful High Priest . . .
Jesus Christ, the faithful witness” (Hebrews 2:17; Revelation 1:5). In fact, the Lord is called “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness” in Revelation 3:14. Our English word amen comes from the Hebrew word that means faithful.

Divine dependability

It’s not enough to just know this truth. How can we depend on the Lord’s faithfulness?

  • We can rely on the Lord to keep His word (Deuteronomy 7:9; Hebrews 10:23). If He says He will do something, He does it. We need never doubt whether God will deliver.

I try to keep my word, but from time to time, I forget what I was supposed to do or procrastinate. I’m not that dependable.

  • We can rely on the Lord to extend His compassion. “His compassions fail not . . . Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). His heart goes out to those in need. Does my compassion fail? Yes, sometimes. I see someone begging for money and think they are trying to con me. No doubt some of them are, but should I let those jade my compassion?
  • We can rely on the Lord to complete what He began in us. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:9). Paul was inspired to write, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). What gave Paul that confidence? He tells us in verse 5: our “fellowship in the gospel.” Paul looked at what the saints were doing in Christ and knew God was behind it, completing the work He was doing in His “called out” ones.

I ask myself if I am faithful when I try to help someone find their better self. Do I see it through? Or am I a better starter than finisher?

  • We can rely on the Lord to get us through temptations. First Corinthians 10:13 tells us “God is faithful” at keeping us from being tempted above what we can bear. He will make a way of escape. James concludes his epistle by saying that we should help those who have strayed from the truth to find their way back (5:19, 20). Because the Lord does that for us, James says we should do that for others as well.

I, too, should be faithful in helping others lighten the burden of their temptation. Getting beyond some of the moral hazards of life often takes time and patience. Am I faithful like God in this matter? I want to be.

  • We can rely on the Lord to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9). He is faithful not only to forgive but also, as the verse says, to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I cannot cleanse anyone of unrighteousness, but I can encourage others to accept His gift and change their lives. I can do the same and set a good example. I also have to examine whether I am faithful in forgiving others as He is. Do I hold a thought or desire of vengeance? Do I feel I deserve more than what someone has given me? Do I resent someone’s behavior, or do I resist forgiving myself? I have done all of these things, but I want to be faithful in forgiving.

Fickle vs. faithful

I am thankful for God’s faithfulness. I may be fickle, but He is predictable. He does not change (Malachi 3:6), and Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

That is our God. There are no surprises but safety in Jesus. He is a sure thing! I want to follow His example. Do you?

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Gordon Feil is a management and corporate finance consultant. He and his wife, Linza, have three grown children and live in Victoria, BC, Canada. He likes conversation and anything that facilitates it, such as walking, table games, travel, and dining. Gordon also likes solving problems in uninhibited, unabashed, and unconventional ways. Visit his general blog (gordonfeil.blogspot.ca ) and theology blog (gordon-feil-theology.blogspot.ca ) to learn more about him.