By Kate Ledbetter
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
For as long as I can remember, faithfulness has been defined by attendance. Church members showing up to church and staying has seemed to be the only requirement of which most take note. It is why couples in horrible marriages (that they never work on) still get standing ovations for reaching yearly milestones. Or how someone who verbalized for years that they hated their job still retires with full benefits.
To me, attendance does not describe this amazing word – faithfulness. Faithfulness has a depth that goes far beyond what you say or simply what you do on the outside.
Faithfulness begins in the heart.
The Bible says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Substance means “support or confidence.” Things hoped for means “to expect or confide.” Evidence means “proof or conviction.” By these definitions, faith is the support for what we expect from God based on His Word. It is proof of what we cannot see.
For so long, it seems we kept trying to define the word faithfulness by what we can see. Maybe because it is all we can understand in our flesh. If our definition is always based on outward reflections, then we need to stop giving credence to lip service and start defining the faithful by what they do with God's Word. In this, we fully understand that we cannot see the heart. This is the evidence of things not seen.
Faithfulness must be defined by obedience.
In Matthew 5, Jesus gives us a deeper look at simple obedience. Faithfulness is seen in our motives – why we do what we do, to begin with. Like the child who takes out the trash when told, all the while stomping and slamming doors, our obedience must be one of submission to The Lord and His Word, not actions with the wrong attitude.
I challenge you to study Matthew 5 and look not at your outward actions but look deeper into your heart. Jesus shows that “thou shalt not kill” goes so much deeper than the murder (Matthew 5:21-26). He shows us how adultery can affect us in more ways than we bargain for (Matthew 5:27-32). This chapter gives us all a look at where faithfulness lies and challenges each of us to ask ourselves how obedient we really are to God. It continues into areas that can be a struggle for the strongest of Christians.
It is easy to say we love the Lord and others, but love is not found in unfaithfulness. Love is the gift we give, not the investment we make expecting a return.
Faithfulness is the foundation of charity.