A great many people get faith and faithfulness mixed up. It’s not that they transpose the two terms in the way they use them. Rather, they use the terms as though they have exactly the same meaning. They do not! While related, faith and faithfulness nonetheless describe different concepts. Faith is not faithfulness. Many people have faith in God but live a life that exhibits anything but faithfulness to Him.
A classic illustration is something that James stated along this line: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!” (Jas. 2:19). The demons are absolutely certain of God’s existence. They believe, they have that much faith, but they’re obviously not faithful to God.
James wrote in detail of the possibility of a person having faith that is inactive. He identified it as “faith without works” and declared such faith to be “dead” (Jas. 2:20). Indeed, James made that declaration two more times within a fairly short context of scripture (Jas. 2:17, 26). He noted further that faith is “made perfect” by works (Jas. 2:22). The works of which James wrote is equated with the concept of faithfulness. Faith, by itself, is impotent. “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). In order for faith to be effective it must be linked to faithfulness.
Obedience to God’s teachings is also inseparably tied to the concept of faithfulness. John the apostle wrote, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 1:9). To “abide in the doctrine of Christ” is to live in, or by, His teachings. Living by the teachings of Christ is central to what faithfulness is all about. To not live by His teachings separates one from God. Such a person is unfaithful.
In order for the Savior to be able to present us “holy, and blameless, and above reproach” at judgment, we must “continue in the faith…” (Col. 1:21-23). To continue in the faith is to live a life of faithfulness. According to the divinely inspired writing of the apostle Paul, faithfulness is not optional; it is required of us by God. “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). Jesus, in His letter to the church at Smyrna, penned by John, put it succinctly: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
Without faith we cannot be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). But faith without faithfulness is ineffective. Faithfulness is the power of faith, and without it faith is dead! Are you listening?…
Gary L. Hutchens