Faithful - what does that word mean to you when you hear it spoken? To many, it carries the idea of being thorough in the performance of one's duty - there is such a strong adherence to the way things are done, not a thing is overlooked or missed. To others, it may carry the idea of being true to one's word - the person can be counted on to do as he or she has said, simply because they always have. It also carries the idea of being trusted and reliable - signifying a little bit of both of these meanings - carrying out one's duties with consistency and always being true to one's word. When we think of the faithfulness of God, do we put him in either of these "boxes", or does his faithfulness bespeak something else? I wonder how many of us simply look to God as the one who consistently performs his "duties" as God and simply leave it at that. Whatever those duties may be, he is there doing them. If this is our impression of God's faithfulness, we are missing out on some very important things in our relationship with him. On the other hand, if we simply think of him as the one who is true to his word, we may also miss out on much of what goes into describing God as "Faithful".
God! Let the cosmos praise your wonderful ways, the choir of holy angels sing anthems to your faithful ways! Search high and low, scan skies and land, you’ll find nothing and no one quite like God. The holy angels are in awe before him; he looms immense and august over everyone around him. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who is like you, powerful and faithful from every angle? (Psalm 89:5-8 MSG)
As we consider the faithfulness of God, it may help to use an acrostic to help us remember these points:
Forthright - God doesn't beat around the bush with us. In his faithfulness, he puts things as they are and helps us to see them for what they are. He goes straight to the point - because he knows we don't always "get stuff" when it isn't clear. To the Pharisees (the religious, self-righteous leaders), he spoke in parables - stories designed to illustrate a point to those who would actually pay attention to them. To the disciples (those who willingly sat at his feet as his students), he shared the depths of those stories. Why? He wanted them to "get them".
All Knowing - Another word for this aspect of God's faithfulness is his omniscience. Yep, he knows what we will do and how we will respond even before we do. Maybe this is why we can count on him without wavering - because he knows the end from the beginning and will not let his kids down along the way.
Immutable - A fancy word to describe him as unchanging. Nothing describes faithfulness better than this idea of being unchanging - consistent, constant, and coherent in all ways. This aspect of God's faithfulness helps us to hold on to what we have learned in the past and helps us to see the elements of his handiwork in the present.
Truthful - There is no way God will ever lie to us. His word has been consistently the same since the beginning of time. The way he does things is consistently the same since the beginning of time. The circumstances may change, but his truth remains. What he says, he does. What he proclaims, comes to pass. What he promises, he will perform.
Holy - To some this may not seem to "fit" in our defining God as faithful, but if we stop for a moment to consider that he would never veer from that which is upright, honest, perfect, and pure then we might just see how this describes his faithfulness. God cannot change his character - so he will not tolerate sin - but because he desires closeness with us, he counters our sinfulness by bringing those who have a sinful nature to the place of grace in his Son.
Forgiving - It is definitely part of his faithfulness to be forgiving. In fact, God's mercies are new every morning - as many times as we need to seek his mercies (and they are many), he remains ready to forgive. No sin is too great, no life is too insignificant. He stands at the ready - we just have to come.
Unmatched - Another word for this would be omnipotent. He is all-powerful and as such, no one and nothing compares to his greatness, nor his ability displayed on our behalf.
Loving - If we were to stop long enough to think about what every action of faithfulness really means, we might just find a root to those actions which stems from the intensity of love expressed by those actions. As we consider God's faithfulness, it is beyond any comparison we have in the earthly sense of love, for his love surpasses all other love. It is magnified in the actions of his grace being new every time we need it. It is put on display in the majesty of transformed lives. His love transforms the cold, hard hearts of mankind and opens the doorways to heaven's majesty. I call this faithfulness in action, don't you?
God is faithful in all ways. He is present everywhere, knowledgeable about all things, and more powerful than any other powers that exist. He is unchanging and the ultimate authority in our lives. He possesses all wisdom and is not afraid to share it with his kids. He remains holy and provides a way for his kids to enter into that holiness through the exchange of their sinful nature for that of a new nature in Christ Jesus. He rules with all righteousness and justice, never wavering from his standards of righteousness. He is both truth and true - the beginning and the end. His goodness and mercy cannot be fully comprehended, but it is as near as our breath. His graciousness and love are ever-reaching and all-encompassing. Now, if this doesn't describe "faithful", I don't know what does. Just sayin!