Character Trait No. 24
Definition: Manifesting a true spirit to a person to whom one is bound by a promise, a pledge, honor, or love.
“Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” I Cor.4:2
First of all, Christians are God’s covenant people – His true commonwealth of the New Israel. Covenants are the means by which societies and nations are formed and hold together. We’ve been covenantly joined to God in Christ at immersion, with the water, the Spirit and the blood bearing witness. (I Jn.5:6)
A covenant is a pact or agreement made between two parties. The Hebrew word for covenant is hesed. In the Old Testament, hesed meant that the superior party in a covenant would protect the lesser and in return he( the superior) received the inferior’s complete loyalty as their sovereign lord. Such an agreement was made in front of witnesses and ratified with an oath, then sealed with a blood sacrifice. Afterwards both parties ate a fellowship meal together to signify their new convenant relationship. Anyone making such a pact pledged his loyalty under pain of death – which the blood sacrifice symbolized – if it was broken.
Marriage vows, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are all types of hesed. Thus Malachi says, “ ... the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously though she is still your companion and your wife by covenant. ‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Mal.2:14,16)
Modern man should heed such word! The high divorce rate shows his disregard for covenant keeping. “Promise Keepers” and Farrakhan’s “Million Man March” were human attempts to deal with this problem of deadbeat dropout dads. Integrity is a hot-button issue these days. Yet we’ve learned through these studies on perfect character development that man cannot bypass God’s word and the Holy Spirit to achieve true lasting integrity. Promise Keepers has sadly neglected the Bible plan of salvation for the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer”. How can men be motivated to faithfulness when they deal unfaithfully with key concepts like immersion for the forgiveness of sins? Or weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper? Such substitutes are guaranteed to fail. Can we follow modern day vodoo doctors of psychobabble and bypass God’s unchanging, tried and tested word? Can man really achieve integrity and a consistent, faithful character without the Spirit of God? Can we be “perfected by the flesh”? (Gal.3:3) Never!
Faithfulness or loyalty is a rare and sweet commodity found in few and perfected in still fewer. Yet every Christian must cultivate it or be considered as tinder for hellfire. Our great King paid such a price for our redemption that disloyalty in His ranks is inconceivable. If disloyal angels were cast out of heaven (Jude, vs.7), then what about lukewarm, unfaithful Christians?
Faithfulness corresponds closely to friendship. “ A friend loves at all times.” (Prov.17:17) Jonathan is one example in the Old Testament of a faithful friend. Note that he had a made a covenant with David – a friendship pact of mutual loyalty. (I Sam.18:3) David lamented at his death: “You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me is more wonderful than the love of women.” (II Sam.1:26) Jonathan managed to avoid being disloyal to his father while still keeping good faith with David – even at the risk of angering his mad dad. Once Saul even threw his spear at him, calling loving, loyal Jonathan, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!” (I Sam.20:27-34) Nevertheless, Jonathan remained faithful – he was truly one who “loves at all times.”
“You are my friends”, Jesus told his disciples, “if you do what I command you.” (Jn.15:14) He further added., “..for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” In other words, if they would keep His word, or new covenant, then He would love and protect them and call them His friends. Did He love them with unconditional love? Yes, inasmuch it was by grace that He first called them, just as they were, to be His disciples. He saw their potential, and their willing hearts to try and obey. Yet He still expected them be faithful in heir keeping the terms of the New Covenant in His own blood. Thus that very night He inaugurated the Lord’s Supper as a memorial meal for them and all those that they would later make disciples.
Likewise we are also called friends of God. What a privilege! Under the terms of the New Covenant, we are no longer slaves, like the Jews. (Gal.4:22) Just as friends are always loyal, Christians too are free people who can be relied on to wholeheartedly support His program no matter what. No chains, whips or cattle prods needed – just our own happy volunteer spirit because perfect love has cast out the slave mentality of fearful, cringing subservience. From grudging compliance to cheerful obedience – that’s the difference between slaves and freemen.
Here’s how we can cultivate faithfulness in our lives:
- Consider carefully what the word “covenant” means, and what a covenant keeper truly is.
- Be faithful in seemingly small and insignificant things. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. See Matt.5:17-19 – our righteousness should surpass the Pharisees, and now the righteous requirements of the law can be fulfilled in us by Christ’s Spirit. (Rom.8:3)
- Always consider Christ’s faithfulness in all things as He walked this earth. For instance, His faithful obedience to His parents, even considering His mother’s welfare while being tortured to death on the cross. Especially consider His faithfulness by going to that cross when you weekly partake of the Lord’s Supper.
God is counting on you! He’s invested in us heavily by giving us His grace, especially demonstrated in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The evangelization of the world is in our hands! This stewardship, the preservation- proclamation-promotion of the gospel is sinners’ only hope, and it needs faithful men. (II Tim.2:2) Every human husband expects a faithful bride. Let the bride of Christ be true to her one husband, Jesus Christ.