Faithfulness, The Forgotten but Fundamental Virtue
Dean and Jana Dickinson. You don't know them because they live thousands of miles away. They are my parents, married for 54 years. They served at a church in Indianapolis, IN for over four decades. They survived and even thrived in the midst of character crashes by other leaders, church struggles, dad's leukemia and much more. There are many words I could use to describe them, but faithful heads the list. Faithfulness. It Is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. I have been so fortunate to see it embodied in many who follow Jesus. I see it in our praise team at church sowing time and talent into worshipping God through music week in and week out. Every Saturday two of Journey’s volunteers clean a large section of the church building. No one sees them; thank yous are few and far between. The list goes on and on. Maybe it Is just me but It seems like most of the church’s focus is on love and some of the other characteristics. However, faithfulness is a quiet, yet significant virtue.
We can look at the faithfulness of God as the ultimate example. Author Timothy Keller offers an insight about faithfulness based on the Biblical location Dothan. Sometimes God’s faithfulness is hidden such as in the life of Joseph recorded in the book of Genesis. Joseph had been sold into slavery near Dothan and I am sure prayed for deliverance there. God was with Joseph but the complete plan remained hidden for years. Eventually, God positioned Joseph as the second in command of mighty Egypt. In contrast, many generations later at Dothan the Prophet Elisha and his servant were trapped in the city by an enemy army. The servant was absolutely terrified. Elisha prayed and God opened the eyes of the servant to a fuller understanding of reality. The servant sees an army of God’s angels surrounding the city, providing the highest level of protection (2 Kings 6). Sometimes God’s faithfulness is hidden and sometimes it is on full display, but faithful He is. Always!
Faithfulness works the same for us. Sometimes our faithfulness is seen, even celebrated by others but other times we are called to a hidden faithfulness. Are you volunteering another month in your church’s nursery? Thank you. Are you faithfully working with your kids on their education at home? You’re making progress. Yes! Really you are. Are you offering the ministry of your presence and support to a family member fighting for their life against an addiction? God sees your efforts! Are you praying again over those foster children now that they are finally asleep and still? You are making a difference. The Scripture reminds us not to grow weary of doing good.
Faithfulness stands out because it is rare in this world. So many are not even faithful to their word. A painful example would be the more than 500 treaties the U.S. government entered into with Indian nations from 1778 to 1871 and every one of them was “broken, changed or nullified” (Character Still Counts, James Merritt, 214). People will take time and money to actually see faithfulness in action. Up to four million people a year visit Old Faithful, the famous geyser, which is not the tallest or the largest geyser but the most consistent, the most faithful (Character Still Counts, James Merritt, 216). If you don’t think faithfulness is important, tell your spouse that you have been “somewhat faithful,” and see what happens! You see faithfulness is a reliable, consistent form of love towards others. Faithfulness should be celebrated. I think of the baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. when, in 1995 when he showed up for his 2131st consecutive game and set a new record. When he walked out on the field he received a remarkable twenty-two minute standing ovation (Character Still Counts, James Merritt, 227). Right now it may not feel like anyone is noticing your faithfulness, but God sees it all. He is watching and will celebrate it. Someday I hope that you and I will hear our Heavenly Father say, “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). Charisma and talent will sparkle for a moment but faithfulness shines for an eternity. Be Faithful. It really is that simple and that difficult.
Minister, Journey Christian Church