“Everyone talks about how loyal and faithful they are but just try to find someone who really is.” (Proverbs 20:6, GN)
It is rare to find faithful people.
People who can be counted on, people who are consistent, people who are dependable.
There is very little commitment today in our society.
We’re in a generation right now that doesn’t want to commit to anything.
They don’t want to be committed to a business.
They don’t want to be committed to a church.
They don’t want to be committed to their marriage.
We live with disposable relationships.
Faithfulness is a term you don’t even hear very much today.
It’s not a commonly used term.
I thought about when you use the term “faithful”.
About the only time it’s used is when you refer to your dog – my old dog or my old car or my old wife.
It’s reserved for retirement parties.
That’s really about the only time you use this word.
“Twenty-five years of faithful service” and you give the guy a gold watch.
It’s not a quality that’s highly valued in our society.
When I talk about faithfulness, I’m talking about being dependable, reliable, consistent, trustworthy.
The Bible says,
“Everybody talks about how loyal and faithful they are but just try to find someone who really is.”
It’s difficult, it’s rare to find a genuinely faithful person.
People value faithfulness whether they talk about it or not.
“Lord, help. Godly men are fast disappearing. Where in all the world can dependable men be found?” (Psalm 21:1, LB)
Write down the names of five people who know they can count on you.
The greatest ability is dependability.
A person can have all kinds of talents, incredible intellectual ability.
They can be very skilled at a job.
But if they’re not dependable, it’s worthless.
Can they be counted on?
Can they be valued?
Today we’re going to look at two things:
Why develop faithfulness?
And then, The characteristics of a faithful person.
I. WHY DEVELOP FAITHFULNESS
1. TO BE LIKE GOD.
If that were the only reason, that’s enough.
God is a faithful God.
If ever I’m going to develop Christ likeness, be like Christ, this is a characteristic I’ve got to build in my life.
I’ve got to learn to be faithful.
Three different ways that God is faithful.
“God is faithful by whom you were called into fellowship of His son.” (1 Corinthians 1:9, KJV)
In other words God is faithful at saving us.
“…God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted above that which you are able.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
He’s a faithful God.
He not only saves us, He keeps us.
He will never allow more on you than He puts in you to bear it up.
Sometimes you put more on yourself than you’re able to bear up.
But God will never put more on you, He will never allow you to be tempted greater than you can bear up.
When people say, “I just couldn’t help myself” they’re lying.
Because the Bible says,
“…God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted above that which you are able.”
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.” (1 John 1:9)
When you do give in to that temptation that He has been faithful not to allow greater than we can handle, but you give in to it anyway, He’s faithful to forgive you if you ask forgiveness.
“God is faithful in all His ways.” (Psalm 33:4)
If I’m going to be like God, I’ve got to learn to be faithful in all my ways.
In every area of life, I’ve got to demonstrate faithfulness.
2. IT’S A QUALIFICATION FOR MINISTRY
The Bible teaches very clearly that faithfulness is a qualification for ministry.
If I’m unfaithful, I have no business being in the ministry.
If I’m disloyal, uncommitted, if I do not keep my word, if I’m not trustworthy, if I can’t be counted on, then I’m not qualified for ministry.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord that He considered me faithful, putting me in the ministry.” (1 Timothy 1:12, KJV)
Paul says, the reason God put me in the ministry is He considered me to be trustworthy, faithful.
Then he says to the Corinthians,
“For this reason I’m sending you Timothy …who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ…” (1 Corinthians 4:17)
Paul says, I’m in the ministry because God considered me faithful and I’m sending Timothy to you because I consider him faithful.
Paul then says to Timothy,
“The things you have heard of me through many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
Paul says, God considered me faithful; He put me in the ministry. I consider Timothy faithful; I put him in the ministry. Now Timothy, you’re to find other faithful people and you’re to move them into the ministry.
Faithfulness is a characteristic or qualification for ministry.
3. IT GUARANTEES GOD’S BLESSING ON MY LIFE
This is the secret of blessing.
If you want to know the secret of getting God’s blessing on your life, just be faithful.
Be faithful in the little things.
What counts is not what you are up in front, when you’re on stage, in public.
What counts is your private life.
It guarantees God’s blessing on my life.
“A faithful man will be richly blessed.” (Proverbs 28:20)
That’s a promise of God.
Many times you think,
“Nobody sees what I’m doing for the Lord.
Nobody cares. I’m not getting strokes. Nobody appreciates me. Nobody knows what I’m doing.”
It doesn’t matter; you shouldn’t live for the strokes of other people.
You shouldn’t live for the applause and approval of other people because the Bible says,
“The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord and He ponders all his goings.”
God sees everything that’s going on in your life and my life and He says faithfulness produces blessing.
“Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.” (Proverbs 25:19)
He’s saying that unfaithful people are a pain.
Inconsistency produces irritation.
You expect the repairman to show up at a certain time and he doesn’t show.
You expect the paperboy to give you the paper every night and it’s not and you’re upset.
He’s saying that unfaithfulness causes problems.
In fact, I’d say if you look at many of the problems we have in life a lot of them have to do with this lack of dependability.
When people are undependable, it causes problems.
Therefore, if I’m not faithful it produces problems in my life.
4. FAITHFULNESS PREPARES ME FOR LEADERSHIP ROLES
“I gave… Hannani [who was Nehemiah’s brother]… charge over Jerusalem for he was a faithful man [underline “faithful man”] and he feared God above many.” (Nehemiah 7:2)
He gave him a position of leadership because he had proved himself faithful.
The Bible says, when it gives the qualifications of a deacon or a servant of the church
“He must first be proven”
He must have track record.
Before you can be a leader, you need to demonstrate your faithfulness.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant? He is the one whom his master has placed in charge of the other servants…” (Matthew 25:45, GN)
Both of these verses mention “placed in charge” or “charge over”.
This is indication of a leadership role.
The Bible says to look for faithfulness.
I have no right to assume any leadership role unless I have a track record.
He’s saying that faithfulness prepares me for leadership.
5. FAITHFULNESS WILL BE REWARDED IN HEAVEN
There are about 5-6 different parables at least in the New Testament where faithfulness is the essential theme.
Jesus said, I want you to get the message so I’m going to repeat this different ways.
Jesus says it over and over again that God looks at faithfulness.
God can overlook my ignorance and God can overlook my lack of talents.
But what He does not overlook is what I do with what I’ve got.
How faithful am I with the circumstances, given my background, given my spiritual gifts, my talent, my temperament etc…
The issue that God judges more than anything else in the life of a believer is faithfulness.
The Bible says that we will be rewarded in heaven according to our faithfulness.
“His master replied, well done good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21)
If you want a goal for life, a legitimate life purpose, make it Matthew 25:21.
I want to get to the end of my life, die and the next second go into the presence of God and have Matthew 25:21 applied to me.
There is no more worthy goal in life than to stand before Jesus Christ and have Him say some day,
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
You did your best, you gave it your best shot.
You had setbacks.
You made mistakes.
You embarrassed yourself.
You weren’t perfect, but you were faithful.
And that’s what counts.
In Matthew 25:14-27, Jesus tells this parable. Notice what He says about it. One guy went out and doubled his talent, another guy went out and doubled his talent. The guy with one talent went and buried it in a hole.
The point there is, usually that the person with minimum or average talent is often the least faithful.
“I can’t do everything therefore I’ll do nothing. If I can’t do it spectacularly, I just won’t do it.”
I have a philosophy: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly. Or do it the best way you can for the glory of God!
The phrase, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing perfectly,” has caused more people to set on the sidelines than practically any other phrase.
They think, if I can’t do it perfectly, I just won’t do it.
So very few of us can do anything perfectly.
There are some things I have to do that I’m not good at.
I’m not good at car repair, but sometimes I have to change a tire.
I could say, If I can’t do it perfectly, like a professional, therefore I’ll never change a tire.
Some things you just have to do and you do it out of faithfulness, not out of expertise.
“Take the talent from him [who hadn’t been faithful] and give it to the one who has ten talents. Everyone who has will be given more and he will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 28)
That’s strong stuff.
That’s how serious God considers the element of faithfulness.
He says my ministry, my life is worthless if it has not been faithful to what God has asked me to do.
II. CHARACTERISTICS OF A FAITHFUL PERSON – the Eight things God is going to evaluate to judge your faithfulness.
1. HE OR SHE HAS RIGHT VALUES.
A faithful person knows what’s important in life and what isn’t important in life.
A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life and how not to.
A faithful person makes their life count.
A faithful person knows the significant from the trivial.
“A faithful man will be richly blessed but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)
This contrasts faithfulness with a desire to get rich quick.
He’s not talking about making money.
The Bible teaches you to earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.
I could go through a lot of verses on that.
In fact, the Bible says,
“He who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel.”
But this is talking about get rich quick schemes, if you take the context around it.
It compares the consuming desire to make a buck as being the primary goal in life with faithfulness.
He’s saying that what we have to realize is there is more to life than just the accumulation of things.
Yet we live in a materialistic world where the soul goal of life for most people is the accumulation of things.
That’s their whole purpose.
The one with the most toys at the end wins, philosophy.
Faithfulness is proven by our refusal to buy into the system that says the almighty buck is the number one thing in life.
Faithfulness is proven by a choosing of a simplified lifestyle in order to have more time for ministry.
How do you judge that?
There’s no standard.
What’s simple for one person may not be simple for another.
But if all your time and energy is going in to making a buck, you’re not being faithful.
You know there are many people in the church who have the background and qualifications to be lay pastors and they’re not here this morning because “I’m too busy.”
What am I too busy for?
I’m too busy making a buck.
I’ve got myself in over my head and my expenses are so high that we have to hustle just to make ends meet and we don’t have time for ministry.
The Bible says that’s unfaithfulness.
In Luke 16:13 Jesus put it in black and white terms.
He simply said you can’t serve God and money at the same time.
If money were the important value in my life, I wouldn’t be a pastor.
I’d go out and with the background and education I have and with enough energy, I’d go out and become a millionaire.
I’d think up some way to become a millionaire.
But that’s not the important value in life.
What counts is lives of people.
2. A FAITHFUL PERSON CARES FOR OTHERS’ INTEREST, NOT JUST HIS OR HER OWN.
The Bible says that the second way God is going to judge our faithfulness is our relationship to other people.
Did we care about the relationships of others and not just our own relationships?
A great example is Timothy.
“I have no one like Timothy who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interest and not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy has proved himself. H e has served with me in the work of the Gospel.” (Philippians 2:20)
He says there’s nobody else like Timothy.
Everyone else looks out for his own interest.
God says faithfulness swims against the stream of contemporary culture.
Contemporary culture says “What’s in it for me?
What’s my needs, my ambitions, my desires, my goals, my hurts, my values, my profit, my benefit?”
It’s very selfish, self-centered.
What’s in it for me?
God says faithfulness is proven by our other-directedness and by giving our life away, by looking at others rather than concentrating on our own self.
The Bible teaches that faithfulness is a choice.
I can choose to change my attitude so that the focus gets off myself and what’s best for me and instead say. “What’s best for others?
What’s best for my kids?
What’s best for my wife?”
When you accepted a wedding ring you made a vow of faithfulness.
But the truth is, you don’t have to commit adultery to be unfaithful to your mate.
There are lots of ways to be unfaithful.
I know a lot of guys and a lot of ladies who are in love with their career.
Their job is their mistress.
They’re being unfaithful because they’re thinking of themselves rather than others.
When I’m being unreliable, I’m being unloving.
3. HE OR SHE LIVES A LIFE OF INTEGRITY BEFORE THE UNBELIEVING WORLD.
In other words, a mark of faithfulness is what kind of testimony do I have with unbelievers?
Not what do believers think about me, but what do unbelievers think about me?
It’s interesting that the Bible teaches that a pastor is to be above reproach in the community, he is to have a good reputation.
Not with believers, but with unbelievers.
You know why.
We’ve seen when somebody in the ministry has a bad reputation with unbelievers and it’s spread out all over the newspaper, and what that does to the cause of Christ.
The best example I can think of here is Daniel.
This is talking about unbelievers who were peers of Daniel.
He had been appointed a governor, a satrap (what they call them in Persia), and the other governors were very jealous.
“They were jealous and began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs so that they could complain to the king about him. But they couldn’t find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and made no mistakes.” (Daniel 6:4, LB)
How would you like to have that kind of reputation at work?
They couldn’t find anything to criticize about him.
The guy was blemish-less, spotless.
He maintained a blameless testimony.
This is a practical example of faithfulness.
When you hire somebody one of the main things you look for is faithfulness.
Are they going to be loyal?
Are they trustworthy?
Can you trust them with this responsibility?
We need to ask ourselves, ‘Am I faithful in the little things at work?’
When we’re faithful in the little things, God gives us greater responsibilities and we grow.
I think what this verse is saying is that Christians should have the reputation of being the most dependable people in the market.
4. A FAITHFUL PERSON KEEPS HIS WORD, HIS PROMISES.
“Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts that he does not give.” (Proverbs 25:14)
As a parent, you know you often make promises in moments of weakness – just to get the kids to stop pestering you.
I’ve learned that’s fatal!
Many times I’ve made promises to my kids and it does not even register with me consciously.
But kids, when it comes to promises, have a mind of an elephant.
They never forget.
“It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later consider your vow.” (Proverbs 20:25)
– “It’s Easier To Get In Than Get Out.”
It’s easier to get in debt than to get out of debt – that’s making a promise to pay.
It’s easier to get into a relationship than out of a relationship.
It’s easier to fill up your schedule than it is to fulfill your schedule.
The Bible is saying that faithfulness is a matter of if you say it, you do it.
The number one cause of resentment are unfulfilled promises.
“Whoever… does what he promises no matter how much it may cost… will always be secure.” (Psalm 15:4-5, GN)
The King James Version says “Whoever sweareth to his own hurt.”
God is looking for all the times that we’ve stated something and then did it.
We need to ask ourselves, What promises do I need to keep?
Promises to spend more time with the kids.
Promises to spend more time with my husband/wife.
Take a vacation.
Promises to repair the faucet.
By the way, when you’re dependable, you never need to say things like,
“Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” Or “I promise on a stack of Bibles.”
Jesus said, “Let your yea, be yea and your nay be nay.”
A Christian ought to be able to just say, “Yes, I’ll do it,” or “No, I won’t.”
If you want to have strong self-esteem, the key is to keep your word.
You’ll be a man/woman of your word.
5. HE OR SHE DEVELOPS AND USES HIS/HER SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
There’s a tremendous emphasis on this in the Bible, using the gifts and the talents God has given you – natural talents He’s given you, spiritual gifts, abilities.
God has made an investment in our life and He expects a return on it.
“Each should use whatever spiritual gift he has received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
If I am not using the spiritual gifts God has given me, people are getting cheated.
Just because we can’t do the spectacular doesn’t excuse us from doing nothing.
Faithfulness is based on what we do with what we have.
God wants us to develop and use our gifts.
God says we’re to faithfully administer – use, develop.
6. A FAITHFUL PERSON MANAGES HIS MONEY WELL.
When you get to heaven, one of the things that God is going to look at to determine the reward that you’re given and the future responsibilities is how you’ve handled your finances.
The Bible is very clear about that.
How you handle your money is a test of faithfulness.
“If you haven’t been faithful in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches.” (Luke 16:11)
God is saying that the way that you handle your finances, your worldly wealth, affects what God is able to do in your life.
It says God is not going to trust me with spiritual blessings if I’m not being faithful to do what He’s told me to do with financial blessings.
Interesting, but God has made money the acid test of faithfulness.
We spend all our lives trying to make it, save it, accumulate it, spend it.
So much of our life revolves around it, God says that how we handle our money is a test of faithfulness.
If we haven’t been faithful handling worldly wealth, who is going to trust us with true riches.
I need to ask myself:
“Do I pay my bills on time?
Do I live within my budget?
Am I consistent in tithing?
How does my giving compare with my spending?
How does my spending compare with my saving?”
God says I’m going to be accountable for this in heaven.
“On every Sunday each of you should put aside something of which you’ve earned during the week and use it for an offering. The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you to earn.” (1 Corinthians 16:2, LB)
He’s talking about giving consistently, faithfully, regularly.
If you haven’t been faithful in handling worldly wealth, who’s going to trust you with true riches.
7. HE OR SHE OBEYS GOD’S COMMANDS.
God says to Samuel,
“I will raise up a faithful priest to serve me and do whatever I tell him to do whatever I tell him to do”. (1 Samuel 2:35, LB)
God defines faithfulness as obedience to the commands of Christ.
8. HE OR SHE PASSES ON TO OTHERS WHAT HE OR SHE LEARNS.
“…Commit these things to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
It’s a transferring process of multiplication.
Paul says, I gave it to you, Timothy.
You’re to give it to faithful men and the faithful men are to give it to others and on and on.
None of us would be here today if there hadn’t been faithful men and women in the last 2000 years of the church.
We’re here today because some faithful men and women took time to write down the Scriptures.
And others preserved the Scriptures, and others translated the Scriptures.
We’re here because of the testimony of faithful people.
If God teaches you a spiritual truth and you’re learning a spiritual truth, it’s your duty to pass it on to others.
What has God given me?
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I am to be faithful with whatever God has given me.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)
If he’s given me a family, I’m to be faithful to that. If He’s given me a job, I’m to be faithful to that. If He’s given me finances, I’m to be faithful with that. If He’s given me a ministry, I’m to be faithful with that.