Faithfulness

Preaching and Worship Resources about Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of the leading attributes of God for which God is praised throughout Scripture. Often nestled alongside lovingkindness, mercy, and graciousness, the faithfulness of God is a bedrock comfort to God's people, letting them know that despite human failings, God will never let go. God will be true to God's own promises. God will bring the salvation he covenanted to bring. Because faithfulness is so key to God's identity, those made in the image of God — and renewed in that image through Christ — are called to be faithful people by keeping promises, being obedient, and staying rooted in God's truth.

Faithfulness, practiced by God and imitated by human beings, is constancy, steadfastness, loyalty and firm devotion to others.

In Scripture

Abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness "The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, `The Lord.'[ ]The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, `The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin'" (Ex. 34:5-7a).

God's faithfulness to Israel "The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, `The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness'" (Ex. 34:6).

To the clouds "Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds" (Ps. 36:5).

Covenant loyalty "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations" (Deut. 7:9).

"I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens" (Ps. 89:1-2).

Serve him faithfully "Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you" (1 Sam. 12:24).

On the tablet of your heart "Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people" (Prov. 3:3-4).

Paths of the Lord "All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees" (Ps. 25:10).

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22-23).

Walk in faithfulness "Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you" (Ps. 26:3).

Grace and peace "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:1-2).

Love and faithfulness meet "Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other" (Ps. 85:10).

Faithfulness to the truth "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 2-4).

Proclaiming God's faithfulness "I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established for ever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens" (Ps. 89:1 - 2).

God's works are faithful "The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy" (Ps. 111:7).

Forever "And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord" (Hos. 2:19 - 20).

Condemnation of unfaithfulness "Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land" (Hos. 4:1).

Faithfulness compiled "His master said to him, `Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master'" (Matt. 25:21). "`Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much'" (Luke 16:10).

Humanity's unfaithfulness "What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?" (Rom. 3:3).

Fellowship with Christ "God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9).

Testing "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

Fruit of the Spirit "By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things" (Gal. 5:22 - 23).

Guarding from evil "But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one" (2 Thess. 3:3).

Faithful high priest "Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17).

Faithful in forgiveness "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Points to Ponder

A Communicable Attribute: Theology students learn early on that when it comes to God's nature, there are some attributes (or characteristics) of God that are incommunicable — that is, human beings cannot share them. God alone is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. But God also has a set of communicable attributes, characteristics that define God and that human beings can share. These include (among others) love, mercy, and certainly faithfulness. God is the premier promise keeper. God stays true to his word no matter what. God can be counted on to come through. Although human beings cannot be perfectly faithful as God is faithful, we can strive to be promise keepers and faithful servants who do what we say we will do, who can be counted on to follow through, to tell the truth, and to be reliable in all things.

Signature trait Biblical authors attribute faithfulness to God very frequently. Often paired with love or righteousness or justice, faithfulness is one of God's signature traits. Whether in his works, judgments, plans or covenant dealings, God is the one who may be relied upon to maintain a steady course. God's people are often very trying to God and to each other, but God keeps on with them.

Faithfulness and Covenant: Especially in the Old Testament — but continuing in the New Testament through the new covenant in Christ — there can be no missing the snug fit between the faithfulness of God and God's covenant. Begun with Abram in Genesis and then extended and renewed through Moses and David, God promised to become the Savior of all nations. God would provide a way, through Israel initially, to bring redemption to a world that had run off the original creation rails. Of course, covenants involve two parties, and so Abraham and then later his descendants in what became the nation of Israel promised to hold up their end of the bargain by following God's ways, obeying God's Law, and so providing a consistent and transparent witness to the one true God. But Israel repeatedly failed. They did not keep covenant with God, and although God punished the people for their sins, God did not let down his side of the covenant. Once it was clear that God would have to keep both ends of the covenant if the covenant was ever going to achieve its purpose, God sent his only Son to this world to take Israel's place as the faithful human covenant keeper the people could never be. Through Christ's faithfulness that led him all the way to death on the cross, the covenant was fulfilled and salvation was achieved. God is the ultimate covenant keeper not only from his side of things but, vicariously through Christ, also from our side!

Gift and model for human beings. God's faithfulness is a gift and model for human beings who are then duty-bound to show it back to God and outward to others. Human beings' faithfulness is spotty, to say the least, whether in obedience to God, in justice toward each other or in self-giving love. People become idolatrous, uninterested, double-minded, ungrateful. They turn their back on God. They cheat each other. Yet God keeps turning toward them. The texts quoted from Hosea mark the contrast. In fact, a big piece of the Bible's metanarrative is of God's faithfulness to faithless sinners.

Faithfulness and Truth: When we think of faithfulness, we tend to think of relationships, and that in turn makes us think about being promise keepers. But for God, being faithful is also connected to truth. God is reliable because God will always know the truth, tell the truth, and embody the truth. God's ways are never false, his decisions never wrong, his declarations never in error. God and the true nature of the universe line up in a perfect 1:1 correspondence such that it is not the least bit of an exaggeration to say "God is truth." For human beings this implies that faithfulness to God means not just following God's commands but also speaking the truth and embodying the truth. The people of God live, speak, and act in accordance with the nature of God and with the way in which God set up the universe. Christian living is supposed to provide a faithful witness to God's truth through speaking about God's nature, God's salvation, and God's plans in ways that are transparent to and in alignment with how things look from God's vantage point. In part this involves faithfulness to Scripture as the revealed Word of God in which the truths about God, creation, and their relation are set forth. Christians should never pretend they know the whole truth about God, but insofar as God has revealed his character, ways, and plans in the Bible, Christians faithfully walk according to the light Scripture provides.

Jesus' faithfulness Jesus plays his own special role in the narrative. The scene on Golgotha tells us how fearful a thing atonement is, even for the Son of God. All his securities had been stripped away, including his clothing. The gospels tell us that priests plotted against him, that Judas betrayed him, that three disciples fell asleep on him, that witnesses lied about him, and that Peter denied him. Each was a stake in Jesus' heart, long before the Romans drove them through his hands and feet. And yet he went through with it to the end, all for the sake of sinners. Not even centuries of retelling this story diminish its magnificence.

Faithfulness is not an exotic or dramatic virtue. Nobody advertises it. Storytellers avoid it. And yet. No marriage, family, family business, church, or nation can endure without it. Every day the heroes of faithfulness keep plugging away with little notice and little applause. They do their job even when they don't want to. They stick with the spouse they're stuck with. They obey God even when they can't make any sense of the evils God sees fit to permit in the world. They stand by a shamed son or daughter. They defend unfairly attacked preachers. They write to missionaries. They vote. They give. They give back. They put up with in-laws that make them crazy. They pray. They sing. They sing "Great is Thy Faithfulness." And when their longing for God loses steam, they long to long again.


Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.