The whole cosmos, from the largest and farthest galaxies down to the most microscopic organisms and beyond, depends on the faithfulness of God in Christ, who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). The reason we haven’t all burned up in an astronomical firestorm, the reason our very atoms stay in place, is because God holds everything together (Col. 1:17) and is faithful.
Unbelievers and believers alike depend on God every second of every day, whether we acknowledge it or not. Such is the reality of being a creature before our Creator: “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). His faithfulness will never fail us. And in fact, as His Holy Spirit enables us to trust Him, we actually grow in a faithfulness that reflects His own—and as we grow, our conduct will invite more and more to find themselves enveloped by God’s faithfulness with us.
A Faithful God
When we say that God is faithful, we mean that He is trustworthy, truthful in what He says, and reliable in His dealings with His creation.
God’s faithfulness—His trustworthiness, truthfulness, reliability—is rooted and grounded in His own identity. Paul reminds us that even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). For God to become unfaithful would be for Him to disavow His very nature. In an earlier era, William Grimshaw put it to his congregation like this: “Before the Lord will suffer his promise to fail, he will lay aside his divinity and un-God himself.”1 But can God “un-God” Himself? Can God lay aside His Godness? Can He be anything other than He is? No! The Great I Am is ever and always who He is (Ex. 3:14).
God is faithful in all of His dealings. He’s sweeping even the difficult parts of your life into the unfolding drama of His purpose to make you fruitful and make you like Jesus.
The Bible consistently praises God for His faithfulness. The psalmist exclaims, “Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!” (Ps. 89:5). These praises are inspired by God’s concrete actions for His people. He promised Abraham and Sarah a son, and as the book of Hebrews recounts, “Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age” (11:11). How was that possible? Because God makes good on His promises. James 1:17 helps us see that in God, “there is no variation or shadow due to change”—or, as Hebrews 13:8 has it, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Maybe you doubt the faithfulness of God. Maybe your circumstances are pressing and difficult. Maybe you feel like God hasn’t been there for you in the past. If so, don’t let your doubts and feelings be your guide. Instead, trust in this biblical truth: God is faithful in all of His dealings. He’s sweeping even the difficult parts of your life into the unfolding drama of His purpose to make you fruitful and make you like Jesus. Remember, too, that God’s faithfulness is most fully realized in the person of Jesus Christ, who “loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5:2). Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger—we may experience all of these things and more, but they cannot separate us from God’s love and His promise of redemption in Jesus Christ. (See Rom. 8:23, 35–39.)
His Faithful People
In a culture that increasingly tolerates unkept promises and broken vows, God asks all His people to grow in the Spirit-empowered fruit of faithfulness (Gal. 5:22). The entire fabric of our Christian lives ought to be permeated with it. As the Holy Spirit makes believers more like Christ, He makes them trustworthy, truthful, and reliable like God Himself.
While there’s no limit to the places we can see faithfulness at work, let’s consider four common life circumstances where it will reveal itself.
Husbands and wives vow that their covenant promise will be for better or for worse, for richer or poorer. If you are married, perhaps you find yourself in territory that you might consider “worse” or “poorer.” Remember, though: it’s what you signed up for! And if the covenant promise of marriage reflects the relationship of Christ and His church (Eph. 5:32), then marriage requires permanent faithfulness, even in the face of difficulty.
Consider also that this faithfulness is physical, mental, and emotional. While sex is to be enjoyed with and only with one’s spouse, faithful husbands and wives will also guard their hearts and minds to keep them from running after others. No sooner should a husband leave his wife or a wife her husband—in heart, mind, or body—than Christ will desert His church. To be faithful like Christ, we need the Holy Spirit to equip us and to lead us back from our failures time and time again.
But not everybody is married, nor will everybody be married. Christians sometimes talk as if their very identify as Christians is wrapped up in whether they are in a relationship or pursuing a relationship, but it’s not; it’s tied to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! The apostle Paul himself, speaking of his singleness, said, “I wish that all were as I myself am” (1 Cor. 7:7).
As wonderful as marriage is, the freedom and privileges afforded by singleness—the opportunities of being generous with time and resources—are an expression of God’s faithfulness to us and through us. Single people should not feel that they have no context in which to be faithful. Instead, they should learn to see expressions of faithfulness in friendship, in service to God’s people, and in their dealings with the world as opportunities for the Spirit to bear fruit in their lives. Like married people, they should glorify God in their bodies (1 Cor. 6:12–19), and like Paul, they should seek to give their undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:35), not life’s frivolities.
As wonderful as marriage is, the freedom and privileges afforded by singleness—the opportunities of being generous with time and resources—are an expression of God’s faithfulness to us and through us.
Parenting, too, requires great faithfulness, because parents are responsible to “train up a child in the way that he should go” (Prov. 22:6). Paul instructs the Ephesian fathers to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” and not to provoke them (Eph. 6:4). Yes, children need shelter, food, and water, but they also need more than that. Faithful Christian parents lovingly discipline their children so that they will know right from wrong, and they share the Gospel with their children so that they, too, can share in God’s loving faithfulness.
There is no guarantee, of course, that parents’ faithfulness will result in children becoming godly adults. Some parents have done a wonderful job, but their children are not where they had hoped. Maybe that’s your situation. Even then, the call is to remain faithful and to let your children know that the door is always open. However far off they may wander, however wide they may stray, parents are meant to remain ever faithful to their children, just as our heavenly Father is to us.
Finally, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are His ambassadors wherever we go (2 Cor. 5:20)—and that includes our workplaces. As Christians, we should be known for our reliability, honesty, and consistency. As employers, we should be faithful in paying well and in treating those in our charge with dignity. As employees, we should be faithful to work what we’ve agreed to work and not fritter our time away scrolling on our phones, reading the news, or catching up on the latest sports scores. Such actions may seem harmless, but they do nothing to cultivate the fruit of faithfulness in our vocations.
How to Grow in Faithfulness
To practice faithfulness is no easy task, no matter the arena of life. In fact, in human terms, it’s impossible. We will only grow in faithfulness when we acknowledge just how unfaithful we have already been. The psalmist knew this tragedy deeply: “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults” (Ps. 19:12). Each of us has been unfaithful in ways that are hidden from even our own eyes—and so we must plead with the Lord to produce the fruit of faithfulness in increasing measure, then step out in faith and act.
Paul tells us, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24). God will keep us and preserve us. How could it be otherwise? The very name of Lord and Savior is “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11). He will surely produce in us the faithfulness He desires for Himself and for those around us.
This article was adapted from the sermon “Faithfulness” by Alistair Begg. Subscribe to get weekly blog updates as this series of new articles is published.
1 William Grimshaw, quoted in J. C. Ryle, The Christian Leaders of the Last Century; or, England a Hundred Years Ago (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1869), 145.