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What is Faithfulness?

By David A. DePra

There is a fundamental principle in God’s working with us that Jesus gave a number of times in His teaching. He said, "He that is faithful in little, will be faithful in much." To put it another way, "God cannot trust us with much until we have proven trustworthy in little." The important point to see is that the issue here isn’t the, "little," or the, "much." It is the FAITHFULNESS.

Christians wonder why God doesn’t bless them. But the answer could be found in this statement of Jesus. God will not bless us with more until we are faithful in little. Why? Because of the, "little?" No. Because of the faithfulness. Once we are faithful to God over what He has given, we ARE FAITHFUL. He can then trust us with more.

When I say, "trust us with more," I am not speaking of honesty in the conventional sense. I’m referring to the ability to rightly handle something to the glory of God. I am speaking to the fact that we must be able to receive God’s blessing without it doing us harm, and without us doing it harm. This requires a relationship with God of FAITHFULNESS.

What is Faithfulness?

We see the meaning of, "faithful," by simply taking apart the word. FAITH–FULL, or FULL OF FAITH. What does it mean to be, "full of faith," over what God has given us? Really, it means to NOT take ownership over it, but to live in the reality that it all belongs to God. We are to be faithful stewards over all things in this life. Indeed, we don’t even belong to ourselves.

So here we see the matter of motivation – rather than just DOING. Anyone can do, or seem to do, the right thing – just give him a set of rules to follow and attach a rewards and penalty system to them. He’ll obey. But that is not necessarily being faithful to God. It may be no more than being faithful to myself, because I want the reward.

Faithfulness means to live by faith with regards to the thing in question. But again – the issue here is ownership. The moment I take ownership over something I am not being faithful – and it doesn’t matter how many, "good," things I am doing. Faithfulness means I treat everything as if it belongs to God, because everything DOES.

HOLINESS means, "to be set apart for God’s use." In short, it means, "to belong to God." Faithfulness means I live governed by this Truth. Doing so automatically leads to holiness, for obedience would naturally follow.

Too often we think that holiness applies to THINGS or our WORKS. It does. But holiness applies to US. WE are to be holy – to belong to God. We are to live in this world as those who have NO CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS. Translated, it means that we allow God to determine our lives. This not only means that we obey the Bible, but it means that we continually seek Him, His kingdom, His righteousness, and His holiness.

Can we see that faithfulness is a RELATIONSHIP word? I cannot just sit here being faithful! I have to have someone to whom I am loyal, devoted, and being faithful! Faith is dependence and reliance upon God, so if I am full of faith, then my life is characterized by dependence upon God and devotion to Him.

Giving to Get

In Christianity it has always been vogue to find ways to get God to bless you. In the middle ages, you could buy indulgences. Or do some act of penance. Today it is the same. Do you want healing? Just claim it. And ignore your symptoms. Want financial blessing? Just, "plant a seed," into some ministry. Give in order to get. Do in order to get God to do. Push the right button. God will respond.

Of course, what makes such nonsense convincing is that there is Truth to the fact that our faith and obedience DO carry consequences, don’t they? Indeed, God Himself appeals to the fact that if we obey Him, there will be blessings. If we don’t, there will be bad consequences. We will reap what we sow. So why is it wrong to do whatever is you think is necessary to get God to bless you?

First of all, almost ALL of the things we are told to do in order to get blessings from God are bum steers. For example, God does NOT guarantee healing. He says, "Fall into My hands." Then God will do His will regarding health. Neither does God guarantee financial blessing. He says, "Fall into My hands." Then God will do His will regarding money. Note the key: Fall into His hands. Ownership again. Surrender. Falling into God’s hands is the first step in being FAITHFUL.

"Thy will be done," are the words of a faithful steward. "My will be done," is error. Indeed, until we say, and mean, "Thy will be done," even our supposed obedience as a vessel being used to do God’s will is suspect. We are to do God’s will, not our own. The whole thought of doing this or that, or saying this or that, so that God will respond in the way you desire is not only Biblical error, but it JUST DOESN’T WORK. And thank God it doesn’t.

Today’s money raising techniques on Christian television is an abomination in the eyes of God. Not maybe. It is a terrible thing to promise people blessings from God in exchange for money. Furthermore, if we searched for a better example of ministers fleecing the flock for their own benefit – which is THE DEFINITION of a "ravenous wolf" – we could not find one that is more clear. This is not faithfulness. God is not in it. And never will be.

Ask this question: If someone says they are a minister of Jesus Christ, and cannot even honor God with regards to the MONEY used to preach the gospel – if they do not preach the Truth about that – then what does it suggest about everything else that is going on in that ministry? Jesus said if you are not serving God you are serving mammon. Period. There is no in-between. It is one or the other. And to say that these people are sincere but wrong is unacceptable. They have no business being wrong about this. They are saying that they speak for God. They are continually approached by people about these errors and methods. Thus, they not only teach error, but defend it.

If you take away the money, and also the power which comes from the money, and then take away the hype, and the supposed miracles, what is it exactly that is left on Christian television? Is there really much teaching at all? No. When is the last time that you heard someone get up on TBN and preach the Cross of Jesus Christ? When is the last time you heard anyone preach about the need for the CHURCH to be HOLY? All I see today are promises of blessing, predictions of a great revival, and a call to everyone to keep the money coming to make all of it possible. God isn’t in ANY OF IT.

A ministry’s attitude toward money tells MUCH about the relationship with God that governs it – for when we are talking about what makes the survival and perpetuation of that ministry possible. How we handle money tells us how much we really trust God. For if we obey God with regards to money, our ministry will either stand or fall based on GOD’S BLESSING, won’t it? Thus, if we preach error to GET money, then what does this say about whether we are sure God is in our ministry?

God’s Real Way

All of this gets back to what I said about the need to be faithful in little so that God can give more. God is not going to bless me until I have a relationship with Him – called, "faithfulness" – which will handle what He gives to His glory, and consequently, my benefit. God is not going to finance my irresponsibility or feed my unbelief.

For example, if my big problem in life is the love of money – if money governs my life, or my ministry – is God going to bless me with MORE MONEY? NO! That would do me harm. I am in no condition to glorify God with more money. I have not been faithful with what I do have. God cannot give me more.

So what is the key here? God must FIRST deal with ME – ME – ME. God must bring me into a relationship with Himself – through repentance and growth – whereby I can become faithful to Him with money. (or whatever we might be talking about as the issue.) I must first become faithful in little, and then God will be free to bless me with MORE.

Now note: I am not talking merely talking about, "doing the right thing with money." That is purely on the surface. Anyone can do the right thing with money if they know it will push God’s button and get them more money. I am here talking about a relationship of faithfulness towards God which will govern money, and everything else. Can God trust me with money – such that having it will not do me spiritual harm? Can God trust me to glorify Him in what He gives me?

Once we understand that this is the key to God’s blessing: Faithfulness, it begins to clear things up. It means that it is folly to, "give in order to get." The fact that you are, "giving to get," may indicate that you lack the very thing which God is looking for before He will bless you: Faithfulness. Faithfulness doesn’t, "give to get." Faithfulness GIVES – and leaves any possible blessing to God. There is a freedom and liberty involved. God can trust such a one with a blessing.

Jesus said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) He did not say, "name it and claim it." He did not say, "If you plant a seed of ten dollars, I’ll give you a hundred in return." No. He did say, "Give and it shall be given unto you." But He said, "Give as the outcome of seeking first the kingdom of God. Give out of a cheerful heart. And leave it to God to add to you what HE WANTS YOU TO HAVE."

God says, "When a person gives, expecting NOTHING in return, simply because they are faithful to Me, I am free to bless such a one. For I know that there is a faithfulness in them which will not take what I give and bring corruption to it." In effect, despite the fact God promises to give us what we need, our giving is to be completely DETACHED from any possible reward. We might paraphrase another statement of Jesus, "Whoever loses any thought of a reward for my sake, will find it. But whoever seeks rewards will, in the end, lose it."

The First Occasion of Giving

Just after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in the book of Acts, we are told of the very FIRST occasion of giving. In the Bible, "firsts" are important. We don’t always want to carve them in stone and make laws out of them, but usually they are significant. It would seem that the first occasion of giving is especially important because it is referred to again and again in the early chapters of Acts.

What were some of the characteristics of this first occasion of giving? The first thing that stands out is that it was purely OF GOD. There were no laws laid down about giving, and no commands quoted. No one said, "You must give." No. The Holy Spirit moved and the people were caught up in it – it was totally voluntary and free. This is verified in the words which the apostle Paul said to Ananais. He told him that at not time was his property not his, nor his money not his. It was the LIE about it all that was his sin.

The second thing which stands out is that there were NO promises made of a blessing to those who would give. None. They gave because they wanted to – and any blessing was up to God. That is faithfulness. It is the kind of motivation which the Holy Spirit inspires.

These two points are in harmony with the rest of the NT teaching on giving. Jesus and Paul never demand giving as a law. Neither do they ever teach a direct correlation between how much you give and how much you get from God. They do say, as a general principle, "give and it will be given." But they are not talking about AMOUNT. They are not talking about just the ACT of giving. They are talking about the FAITHFULNESS behind the giving. In other words, they are saying, "If you give out of faithfulness to God, God can bless you with more because you are faithful in little."

Think of this in terms of a pipeline. A faithful person does not take ownership over what God has given him. His pipeline, in other words, is not clogged up. His heart, or, "facet," is always open to giving. There is a free flow, down from God, to him, and then outward to others, as God directs. Because the, "facet," is open, there is a continual flow. This makes it possible for God to keep the flow coming from His end, the source. But the moment I take ownership over what God gives, there is a clogging up. And God cannot keep the flow coming. It would do me harm.

Again, and this is so important to see: It isn’t just the fact of giving. It is the faithfulness unto God in the giving. Unless my giving is, in the eyes of God, the outcome of my faithful relationship to God, it really isn’t something He can bless. I am, in that sad case, giving to get. The act of giving may be there. But my act is not a faithful act. It is a selfish act.

I would suggest that these occasions of giving, just after the birth of the church, is God’s Word to us on the subject. It is His pure and holy example. It is how He would like it – how it would be if the Holy Spirit were allowed to move. The point is this: God will always bless what it of Him. He will never bless what is not of Him. Are we willing to give God this freedom?

We see here a big need for faith. For if I take my hands off, and let God decide to bless, or not bless, the only things which will survive is that which is OF GOD. This would mean that every ministry, or church, which God chooses NOT to bless will die. The survival of all would depend, not upon money raising ploys, or false promises of blessing, but the blessing of God Himself.

Never think that ministries and churches cannot thrive OUTSIDE of the will and blessing of God. They can. All they need is a lot of money. This is precisely what a person’s, or a ministry’s attitude toward money – their faithfulness over it – says so much about their attitude towards God Himself.

Faithfulness is Personal

Faithfulness is a relationship word which describes a person who does not take ownership over anything, but lives in the reality that even he himself belongs to God. This leads to obedience and holiness. But it starts in the heart.

God will not bless us unless we are faithful. He cannot give us more until we become faithful over the little. This is certain, even though it is quite possible that any of us can step outside of God’s will and use the world’s methods for getting the blessing on our own terms. Part of what it means to be faithful is to refuse to make our own blessing, but to submit to God without a present blessing, so that He might make us fit for the blessing which is of Him.

Faithfulness means being willing to receive only that which God is willing to give. Faithfulness means that nothing I receive becomes mine. Faithfulness means that the blessings of God never take precedent over God Himself. God is able to bless those who enter into such a relationship with Him.*

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