Amidst all the upheavals of this unstable world and all the disunity of a distracted church, truth remains steadfast forever. Human reasoning constantly changes and the inventors of this world's systems pass away, but "the solid foundation of God stands" (II Timothy 2:19). God's truth, word, promises, and covenant are as sure as He is faithful. Similarly, a trustworthy and reliable person is faithful—someone others can depend upon. In this Bible study on "the fruit of the Spirit," we will explore the seventh fruit, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).
1. Upon what is faithfulness built? Hebrews 11:1; Colossians 3:1-3; II Corinthians 4:18; 5:7.
Comment: Faith is the confidence we have in possessing the things we hope for because of the promises of God. Faithfulness is adhering unswervingly to God and His covenant. To be faithful we need to be loyal (steadfastly affectionate and allegiant to God), conscientious (scrupulous in doing God's will), dedicated (zealously devoted to God) and truthful (true to God's Word and standard of righteousness).
2. How does the Bible describe God's faithfulness? Psalm 36:5; 89:2, 8, 33; 119:90; Lamentations 3:23. How does God act toward us? I Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; I Thessalonians 5:24; II Thessalonians 3:3.
Comment: God's faithfulness is infinite, incomparable, unfailing, everlasting and great. Obviously, faithfulness is a character trait of both Christ, "the faithful witness" (Revelation 1:5; 3:14), and the Father, who is always faithful.
3. How does God show His faithfulness? Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 119:138; Isaiah 25:1; I John 1:9.
Comment: God shows His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with those who submit to His will and in forgiving the sins of those who genuinely repent. In addition, His Word is eternally reliable and true.
4. Is faithfulness only necessary in major situations? Matthew 25:23; Luke 16:10-11. Does a faithful church avoid suffering? Revelation 2:10.
Comment: Christ shows that if we are not faithful in trivial matters, we cannot expect to be faithful when confronted with weightier matters. God tests our faithfulness in our day-to-day activities, and it is in them that real Christianity emerges. The Laodicean attitude, one of indifference to the things God considers important, often reveals itself as faithlessness.
Christ's words to the church in Smyrna show that faithfulness does not guarantee a life free of persecution. In fact, the more faithful we are, the more at odds with the world we become.
5. Can we please God without true faithfulness? Hebrews 11:6. How do we demonstrate it? Proverbs 11:13; 14:5; 25:13; Matthew 24:45-47; James 2:18-24.
Comment: We are faithful when we lovingly conceal the sins of others rather than gossip about them. Being truthful, doing God's work and being loyal are also faithful works. As Christians, we must make faith a living reality in our lives so that we can produce faithfulness.
6. Can we accumulate faithfulness ourselves? Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8-9. Whose faith is it? Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 14:12.
Comment: The faith through which we please God and receive salvation is God's gift (I Corinthians 12:4, 9). Those in His true church have the faith of Jesus. It is not just our faith in Him, but His faith placed in us. Faithfulness, therefore, is a gift of God produced through the Holy Spirit.
7. What is the effect of Christ living in us? Acts 3:16; Romans 1:17; 8:9-10; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:5.
Comment: Paul says that Christ dwelled in Him through the Holy Spirit. This indwelling of God's Spirit enables us to be faithful. Christ's faithful mind is imparted to us and becomes part of our mind. If we provided the faith to obey God, it would be self-righteous. Our righteousness must come through the faith of Jesus Christ.
As mentioned earlier, faithfulness includes loyalty, conscientiousness, dedication and truthfulness. This not only refers to our feelings and actions toward God but also to the influences of the Holy Spirit in directing and controlling our behavior toward others. A Christian must always be faithful—as a child, spouse, parent, friend, neighbor, employee. He is faithful to his contracts and promises. Faithfulness is a character trait of one whom others confide in and trust.