When I think about the idea of faithfulness or faithful people Proverbs 18:24 comes to mind, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” That’s the best way I can think to describe it—“faithful” is the key character trait of someone who won’t let you down, someone who won’t stab you in the back and someone who is there when you need them.
What is faithfulness?
There are a few meanings for “faithfulness,” like loyal, constant and steadfast. And those are excellent descriptions. As the seventh of nine listed Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, Holy Spirit-infused faithfulness is defined as “fidelity” and “good faith.”
In philosophy, good faith is a true attempt at something. So to understand biblical faithfulness, think of making a genuine attempt at being a true, honest, trustworthy and reliable person. If you are behaving in this way, you are being faithful.
Looking at the etymology, the word originates from the 14th century meaning “sincerely religious, devout, pious,” or in simpler terms, “full of faith.”
So where does faith come from? Ephesians 2:8 says faith is a gift from God and not something we can conjure ourselves. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “a confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Theologian Oswald Chambers put it another way, “Faith is a deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” So faith is a supernatural trust in a deity we cannot see, touch or feel. It’s a belief that what God promised will happen, no matter what.
How to become a faithful person
Of course, having faith and being faithful isn’t quite the same thing. Faith is a gift from God and faithfulness is the result of acting from a place of being “faith-filled.” It’s a natural outpouring when we’re living with our lives and hearts are focused on God.
Living a faithful life seems simple at the outset: do what you say you’ll do, be where you say you’ll be, be true to your family and friends and keep your promises. But when push comes to shove, it’s a lot easier to be a flake.
“Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man, who can find?”– Proverbs 20:6
Most of us want to be faithful. We don’t set out to break our word or be unreliable. But life gets in the way. We’re busy. We forget. Better things come up.
It’s difficult to live faithfully when it’s so hard to keep track of our busy schedules. Creating morning routines and practicing good habits helps, as well as simplifying your life by not overcommitting. These disciplines help us show up in our lives and are stepping stones to faithfulness.
Becoming someone others can count on takes time and practice. It’s a holistic approach to life—everything is connected—and affects everyone and everything you encounter. Even though faith is a gift to us, it’s our responsibility to be a faithful person. So whether it’s being faithful to your calling, in your work, to your family or to your community, it’s something we all must work at as we aim to become more like Christ.
Some people may try and justify selfish living or flaking out of responsibilities by claiming Sola fide, the principle of justification by faith alone. And it’s true; we are saved by faith alone, not actions. But we are also called to be examples for others to follow, and the Fruit of the Spirit is proof of the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in our lives.
Here’s how James puts it in James 2:14-17.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.– James 2:14-17
Faithfulness is a reflection of your faith and if you can become a dependable, loyal and trustworthy person others will notice and appreciate it. As simple as it sounds, if you live as a faithful person you’ll stand out because it is so different from the average person in today’s society.
How are you showing up in your everyday life? Here are a few questions to ask when you’re ready to do a faithfulness check-up.
- How am I showing up in my daily life?
- Where am I not showing up?
- Am I being faithful to the people and tasks I’ve committed to?
- Where am I bailing? Where am I flaking?
- Am I being present when I’m with others?
- Where do I need to be more present?
- Is my relationship with God my top priority?
- Am I being consistent? Am I doing what I say I’ll do?
- Which responsibilities am I neglecting?
- How loyal am I these days?
- Who do I need to demonstrate faithfulness to today?
- Who needs to know they can count on me?
- What are the obstacles holding me back from being faithful?
- What areas am I lacking faithfulness? How can I change them?
What else does the Bible say about faithfulness?
“Now faith is a confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”– Hebrews 11:1
Here are additional references about faithfulness for further study.
- Proverbs 19:21
- 2 Corinthians 5:7
- 2 Timothy 3:13
- Romans 14:23
- John 3:16
- Hebrews 11:6
- John 6:28–29
- Galatians 5:6
- James 2:22
- James 2:26
- 1 Corinthians 12:9
- Romans 4:18-22
In his book “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis describes faithfulness in a memorable way. “Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”
As we grow in our relationship with God we also grow in faith. We start seeing God show up in amazing and unexpected ways and that inspires us to start showing up too. When we see God doing what he promised, in both the Bible and in our own lives, our belief and our confidence in Him deepens, which in turn motivates us to become faithful.