Christians are to be a fruitbearing people, according to Galatians 5:22-23. The fruitful Christian exhibits nine aspects of character. Some commentators group these into three groups of three aspects each. The first three–love, joy, peace–emphasize our relationship to God. The next three–longsuffering, gentleness, goodness–reflect on our relation to our neighbors. The inward character is the focus of the last three aspects of faith, meekness, and temperance. The seventh one mentioned by the Apostle Paul is “faith,” or as some translations state it, “faithfulness.”
Our English word is translated from the Greek word, pistis. While normally in the New Testament this word refers to our faith or trust in God, in the context of Galatians 5, it primarily deals with our dependability. Other synonyms for this word are constancy (from the Latin word meaning “to stand firm”), and fidelity (from the Latin for “faithful”). Of course, our faithfulness flows from our faith in God. When our attention is focused on Him–the constant, never changing God–a steadiness and dependability develops as God’s will governs our actions. We will become persons who fulfill our promises–to God, to the church, to our neighbors.
Faithfulness is being attached to the truth, and the determination to continue in the truth. It is maintained even when it affects the pocketbook, pleasure, personal advancement, or even personal security. Our faithfulness ought to be a reflection of God’s faithfulness to us. Psalm 89 reminds us that God’s faithfulness is central to who He is, and is a determined, active, and continual part of His nature. It remains unaffected by other’s faithlessness.
Our times are marked by increasing self-centeredness. Commitments and promises made are discarded if they no longer serve the maker’s purpose. The lack of faithfulness has led to more laws, more government to enforce those laws, and higher costs in the marketplace. A transaction that once required a “yes” and a handshake now requires many paged contracts and lawyers to interpret them. Unfaithfulness among professed believers has led to the disruption of the church as vows of marriage, membership, and ordination are ignored.
Christians, however, are commanded to be faithful or reliable (1 Corinthians 4:2). We fulfill that command when we conduct our lives in obedience to God (Psalm 119:30-33), in reverence toward Him, in honor of the Gospel (Titus 2:10), in steadfastness to the never changing Gospel (2 Timothy 1:13), and in mindfulness of Christ’s imminent return (Matthew 24:45ff.).