Faithfulness

By Derek Prince

Faith, as the New Testament talks about it, is of three kinds. The first I call faith to live by. This kind of faith enables us to live both now and forever, for “the righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). It’s based on a permanent and personal relationship with God that supplies both the motivation and the power for Christian living (see Rom. 5:1-2).

The second kind of faith is the gift of faith, which the apostle Paul lists with the other gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:9). This is God’s own faith, supernatural faith, sovereignly imparted to us in a situation of need by the Holy Spirit.

The third kind of faith is the fruit of faith, an aspect of character that must be carefully cultivated. When Paul wrote to the Galatians about this spiritual fruit, he used a word that can be translated in two ways. In some versions it’s rendered “faith”; in others, it’s “faithfulness.”

Either translation is legitimate, though neither is complete. The word actually means both faith and faithfulness. In fact, the division in our thinking between faith and faithfulness is somewhat artificial: In
the original language of Scripture, faith includes faithfulness, and faithfulness is impossible without faith. We can think of it as a single coin with two sides.

In either case, the key notion expressed here is “dependence.” Faith, on the one hand, is learning to depend on God in every situation and circumstance. Faithfulness, on the other hand, is being dependable ourselves, being the kind of person that both God and others can depend on.

Faith and Commitment

What is the aspect of this fruit we call faith? It’s a quiet, steady, continuing trust in God’s goodness, wisdom, power and trustworthiness. Its outward expression is stability. The fruit of faith doesn’t panic,
doesn’t get flustered, doesn’t lose the victory, doesn’t think of turning back and giving up. It’s an unruffled and persistent reliance on God.

Such an attitude of trust is based on God’s scriptural promise: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28, NASB).

Of course, we must meet God’s conditions for this promise: We must be committed to Him in love and flowing in His purpose for our life. If we are, then no matter what happens, we know that God will cause it to work together for our good, and we have no reason to panic.

This reality is powerfully illustrated in Paul’s second epistle to Timothy. The letter was written near the end of Paul’s life under the most discouraging of circumstances: Forsaken by once-faithful friends,
he was an elderly man in jail, suffering physical pain, lacking warm clothing and awaiting trial and probably execution.

Yet listen to what Paul wrote: “I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what T have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).

The key word here is “entrusted,” or in the King James Version, “committed.” To trust in God is to entrust ourselves to God. If we truly know that we have put our life totally and without reservation in
the hands of” God, then we’re entrusting, we’re committing, ourselves to Him. We can know for sure that everything that follows our commitment will be God working out the best for us.

God Is Faithful–Are You?

To understand the other aspect of this fruit – faithfulness – we need to lay hold of one fact that’s stated over and over in Scripture: God is faithful. The fruit of faithfulness in the believer, then, is letting God work out His quality of faithfulness in us as He reshapes us in His image.

But we must realize that this process takes practice. It doesn’t just happen. All fruit must be cultivated, and no fruit requires more cultivation than the fruit of faithfulness.

How do we cultivate a faithful heart? It starts with small things. Jesus said: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).

We show what kind of person we are most clearly when we’re taking charge of small and apparently unimportant responsibilities. That’s where our character is tested. And in God’s kingdom, if we’re not
faithful in small things, we’ll never be promoted to the big things.

Perhaps you need to check yourself fight now. How faithful are you? Let me ask you four rather personal questions:

* Do you make promises, maybe to your children or your spouse, and then break them? Sadly enough, some Christians are more faithful to keep their commitments to their employees than they are to keep their commitments to their families.

* Do you turn up late for appointments? God is never late. God’s sun never rises late, never sets late. Everything that He’s responsible for in this universe is punctual. You’re not displaying His faithfulness if
you’re not punctual.

* Do you let your bills get overdue? You may say, “I was pressed.” But what about your creditors? Maybe they were pressed, too. It’s not displaying God’s faithfulness to be slow and slack in paying your bills.

* Do you borrow money and fail to repay it? If so, read what the Scripture says: “The wicked borrows and does not pay back” (Ps. 37:21).

That’s not to say that every person who defaults on a loan is wicked. But if you’re a Christian who borrows money and fails to repay it, that aspect of your life isn’t reflecting the faithfulness of God.

According to Jesus, how we deal with money is the acid test of our faithfulness. He said: “If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon [a biblical name for money], who will entrust
the true riches to you?” (Luke 16:11).

Faithfulness begins in the small things, not the big things. It begins in the material things, not the spiritual things.

Faith and Faithfulness

We can see, then, how closely joined together are the two aspects of this spiritual fruit: faith and faithfulness. Our faith is based on God’s faithfulness, which He has demonstrated by fulfilling His
promises to us. In turn, His trustworthiness has made it possible for us to be the kind of people who keep our own commitments-to be men and women who are faithful to God and to one another.

(The above information was published by CHARISMA, May 1993)

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