Faithfulness is one of nine fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 of which it is said "against such there is no law." The only way in which we will be able to possess this precious fruit in our life is through hearing and study (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 2:15). Knowledge is an essential element in all of faith, and is sometimes spoken of as an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Faithfulness is an essential element that each and every Christian must possess in order to go to heaven; "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10).
Faithfulness is the Greek "pistis." There are 244 uses of the word "pistis" (faith) in the King James Version of the New Testament. It primarily means to have a "firm persuasion" which is usually gained from having a conviction based upon hearing. It is used in the New Testament to mean "faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, New Testament, p. 222). Vine's goes on to say:
"The main elements in "faith" in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from "faith" in man, are especially brought out in the use of this noun and the corresponding verb, pisteuo; they are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgment of God's revelation or truth, e. g., 2 Thes 2:11-12; (2) a personal surrender to Him, John 1:12; (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender, 2 Cor 5:7. Prominence is given to one or other of these elements according to the context. All this stands in contrast to belief in its purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held in good "faith" without necessary reference to its proof. The object of Abraham's "faith" was not God's promise (that was the occasion of its exercise); his "faith" rested on God Himself, Romans 4:17,20-21."
The word is further defined as: "steadfast adherence to a person or thing to which one is bound as by an oath or obligation; marked by or showing a strong sense of duty or responsibility; conscientious; reliable" (Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition). The writer of the book of Hebrews states: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith, according to the Hebrew writer is composed of two elements: confidence and conviction. The meaning of faith is made clearer when this is understood. Therefore, it is a confidence in things hoped for and a conviction of things not seen (invisible). Faithfulness is not a fleeting thing that is based on momentary pent-up emotions. Faith has substance which only comes by hearing!
True faith is an essential grace, and a mainspring of the Christian life. Faithfulness is what helps the Christian overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, resulting in a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Because of faithfulness, worthy men of old did great things (Hebrews 11:1-40; Acts 14:9; 1 Corinthians 13:2, being sustained by Omnipotence in doing whatever God enjoined, Matthew 17:20; 9:23).
Paul wrote in Romans 15:4; "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." We have used this passage many times in showing the value of what can be learned from Bible characters of long ago and this is especially so concerning faithfulness. Not only can we go back to the Old Testament to read in detail the lives of those that have exhibited this wonderful fruit of the spirit, but God thought so much of those that did so, that He included a snapshot of their life for us to learn from in Hebrews, chapter 11. When we take a moment to reflect on the lives of those that had great faith, we can learn not only what faith is, but how to put it to use in our life.
As one progresses through the eleventh chapter of Hebrews we notice many individuals that exemplified great faithfulness in their service to God. Let's look at just three of these characters that are named in this chapter:
These are but three examples of faithfulness exemplified. We could continue by talking about Enoch, Moses, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rahab, and others but these should prove enough to show us the great and abiding faithfulness that each had in almighty God. Now that we know what faithfulness is and how it was exhibited in the lives of Abel, Noah and Abraham, let's turn our attention to how we can learn to have this kind of faithfulness in our life today.
In Hebrews 10:35-39 it says, "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 'For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." Those that are righteous before God are those who live by faith. We have seen through the examples of others that through perseverance in God's promises, that we can have salvation. In addition, it is the power of faith that keeps our mind and heart firmly fixed on heaven even in the midst of trials and tribulations. These examples should help us adhere steadfastly to the profession of our faith. In every case these great examples of faithfulness heard, believed and acted on God's word (Romans 10:17), which is what we must do today. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), therefore we must learn to be faithful in all things in order to be pleasing to Him. As they longed for "the heavenly hope," we should do likewise today. "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us" (Hebrews 12:1-3), so as to live our life fully and completely for the Lord. As we run the race of life, we need to look toward Jesus who is truly "the author and finisher of our faith." Every single witness of Hebrews chapter 11 exhibited obedience to God. We must do likewise to be counted worthy. Jesus endured the cross and died for us. Knowing this, let us not become weary and discouraged in our daily life (Galatians 6:9). All we have to do is look at these examples of faithfulness and we can see that as they gained their faith by hearing the word of God, that we can to (Romans 10:17). When we are determined to study God's word and to apply His teaching in our life, then we will be able to endure the hardships that come our way. No matter what Satan throws our way, we will be able to overcome. We can never learn faithfulness, to walk in the steps of the Savior if we don't learn what it is that we must do to walk in His steps. The faithful man of God is one that really trusts in the Lord and counts on God to deliver him from the hand of the Devil. Faithfulness is a mind set. We must be of the mind that we want to serve God first in our life and meditate on all that is good (Mark 12:30; Philippians 4:8).
Sadly, far too many Christians have an evaporating faith as stated in Hosea 6:4: "O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away." But this does not have to be the case. Let's strive to have a greater and stronger faithfulness to our God. So, how do we develop this greater and stronger faith? Basically, by studying the word of God and applying it to our lives in every way (not just the areas we want). A sincere study of His word will prompt the Christian to pray fervently and realize a greater dependence upon God. A greater, stronger faith is developed when we study the Bible, learn, meditate, assemble with the saints and worship on a regular basis. The one that will receive the divine testimony and yield to it will become a partaker of the heavenly knowledge. Let us strive diligently to uphold the banner of Christ in all faithfulness!