HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Faithfulness is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Faithfulness is a character trait that combines dependability and trust based on our confidence in God and His eternal faithfulness.
In the New Testament, faith is the belief in God and the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah through whom we obtain eternal salvation.
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
To be “faithful” is to be reliable or trustworthy. For the Christian, this is faithfulness specifically to the Saviour who redeemed us. Christian faithfulness, therefore, is continued and consistent submission and obedience to the same Spirit who provides the ability for us to be faithful. This attitude is in direct contrast to our previous “faithfulness” to our own sinful desires and ways. The word also describes someone willing to suffer persecution and even death for Christ’s sake. “Therefore, among God’s churches, we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” (2 Thessalonians 1:4)
The Goodness of Faithfulness
God taught me a lot in the past years. I learned that when I focus on success as an outcome, I bypass the blessing in being faithful. I tend to see my expectations as essential and miss the beauty of the faithfulness of others and of God. I can even forget that our Saviour’s own faithfulness did not look like success but rather death on a cross.
Hebrews 12:2 provides even deeper insight into that cross, stating that Jesus, “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross.” That means there must be a joy that comes from faithfulness in difficulty—perhaps an even deeper and more meaningful joy that cannot be understood when faithfulness and success go hand in hand. Think about the difficult situations that require faithfulness: perseverance in a rocky marriage, parenting the wayward teen, caring for ageing relatives, dealing with family feuds, or the commitment that turns out to be less fulfilling than you hoped. It isn’t fun to dwell on these things, but I believe faithfulness in these types of circumstances produces something good.
As I look back, I’m thankful for my Mother. I think often of the lessons that she taught me. It’s a testimony to her integrity that her life over the years has grown through her own simple acts of faithfulness, such as caring for the elderly in the village without support. Years later I saw in those same elderly people the virtue of faithfulness that was in my mother.
I also thank God for those faithful ministers like our Patriarch, Archbishop Adrian, Bishops Andres, Carl and Eric our Cardinal. I trust God that their decision to choose faithfulness in a hard situation has led them to more opportunities for faithfulness and growth and that this has brought them joy.
I’ve come to realize that, though I would like to be successful in every area of my life if I were really forced to choose, I’d rather be faithful. I would like to say at the end of my life that I have been a faithful minister and faithful father, faithful to the work I have been given, to the relationships in my life, to my neighbours, to the poor, and, ultimately, to my relationship with Jesus.
The Faithfulness of God
It’s no wonder that faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s the very essence of God’s character. The Scripture says, “If we are disloyal, he will stay faithful because he cannot be anything else than what he is” (2 Timothy 2:13). Only the Spirit could transform us so that we emulate God’s faithfulness in a situation where our human tendency is toward selfishness, escapism, or easy pleasures. Only the Spirit could give us forward-looking joy when our faithfulness requires both perseverance and sacrifice. We cannot produce faithfulness on our own.
We can, however, posture ourselves for growth in faithfulness with a few simple steps:
1. Find a mentor who has perspective beyond your naiveté or cynicism.
2. Find some people to walk with you in the community (and laugh with you from time to time).
3. Invite the Spirit’s work in your life.
There will always be difficult situations. There will always be temptations that test our loyalty. But there will always be Christ’s faithfulness to us because of his faithfulness to himself. Praise God that he has given us the Spirit to make us more like him.