Faithfulness—A Way of Life
“What is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.”—1 Cor. 4:2.
1, 2. (a) What is “Old Faithful,” and how did it get its name? (b) But what is admired even more than the regularity of a geyser?
“OLD FAITHFUL” is the name of one of the many geysers in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It got its name from the fact that during the 1920’s and 1930’s it erupted more or less regularly every sixty-five minutes. And due to this fact, it became famous as a tourist attraction.
2 People admire faithfulness not only in a geyser that regularly sends up 10,000 gallons of steam and hot water to a height of 100 to 150 feet, but especially in persons who have a way of life that makes them dependable and trustworthy. Even in the business world what is looked for in a person entrusted with responsibility is faithfulness. It is probably for such a reason that the U.S. Marine Corps chose as its motto Semper fidelis, “ever faithful.”—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:2.
3, 4. Who is the greatest example of faithfulness, and what are appropriate symbols of the dependability of his purpose?
3 But when it comes to demonstrating a superlative degree of faithfulness, who particularly comes to your mind? It should be none other than Jehovah God, the “faithful Creator” of the heavens and the earth. (1 Pet. 4:19) Whereas a geyser might be a fitting symbol of faithfulness for humans, it certainly would be a poor representation of the unchanging faithfulness of Jehovah. Geysers all become erratic or inactive with the passing of time. Not so with Jehovah. Hence, the enduring sun and moon are more appropriate tokens of the unchangeableness of his purpose, his trustworthiness and flawless dependability.—Ps. 89:36, 37; 104:19.
4 Man can plan and work with confidence, trusting in the stability of the Creator’s works, whether man is planting a vegetable garden or designing a computer that will guide him to the moon and back. It stands to reason that man can also learn infinitely much from a faithful God who has proved so reliable, not only in what he has said, but also in what he has done. Concerning this faithful God, we read: “Do you attribute greatness to our God! The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.”—Deut. 32:3, 4.
5. Among worshipers of God, what characteristic is expected, and what does He observe?
5 It should be expected that this “God of faithfulness” would look for this same characteristic among those who truly worship him. He is, in fact, the God and Savior “especially of faithful ones.” (1 Tim. 4:10) With his complete powers of observation, the living God Jehovah discerns with accuracy the earnest efforts of those who endeavor to serve him. His eyes are open to see all the ways of the sons of men, and it is to him that an accounting must be made. (Jer. 32:19; Heb. 4:13) As the Proverb says: “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.”—Prov. 15:3.
6. This being so, what questions should we ask ourselves?
6 Jehovah’s loving care and watchfulness for the welfare of his people are most evident. Realizing this fact, that the loving Creator is fully aware of the good ones as well as the bad, and what each is doing, a person does well to ask himself: ‘If Jehovah is looking for faithfulness among his people, does he view me as such a worshiper? Is my way of life one of faithfulness? How am I to know if he approves of me?’
A FAITHFUL STANDARD
7. What code or standard has Jehovah made available for mankind in general?
7 Is it not reasonable to suppose that the God of faithfulness would have a code or standard that would define for his worshipers what is right and what is wrong, good and bad, true and false? Yes, it is. And more than that, the God of order and peace has provided just such a divine standard, the Holy Bible, for the instruction and guidance of all mankind. No other book of instruction has been given such a worldwide distribution or is accessible to the great majority of mankind.—1 Cor. 14:33.
8, 9. Why is a faithful adherence to God’s Word not always easy?
8 How, then, does your way of life compare with that approved in the Scriptures? In your imperfection you need not be discouraged when facing up to the perfect standards set forth in God’s Word. The assuring words of Psalm 103:14 say: “For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” Jehovah recognizes our inherited imperfections. His demands never exceed our limits to perform.
9 Nevertheless, holding to a faithful course is not always easy to do; especially is this true today when it is popular to do what is right in one’s own eyes and to go the way of the world. Simple, wholehearted faithfulness, however, is encouraged regardless of the magnitude of the test.
10, 11. (a) Do we necessarily have to undergo great trials and difficulties in order to prove our faithfulness? Illustrate. (b) How may we apply in our daily lives the principle stated by Jesus on the matter of faithfulness, and with what beneficial results?
10 On the other hand, doing something great is not always a requirement to prove our faithfulness or for us to have Jehovah’s blessing and approval. It was not a great test that Jehovah put upon Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The simplicity of that test involving the first human couple serves as an excellent illustration of the principle stated over four thousand years later by God’s own Son, namely, “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.”—Luke 16:10.
11 Today, some nineteen hundred years after those words were uttered, they still ring as true as ever, and the same principle applies in every facet of life among genuine worshipers of Jehovah God. You often observe it in the little things one does day by day and which reflect the goodness of a heart that is loyal and true to Jehovah. It may be that you will never be called on to take some stand demonstrating what observers might call outstanding faithfulness. But your constancy in doing what is right, your regularity and dependability in small things, will give a fine testimony and evidence of your deep appreciation of the divine standards of what is true and faithful. It is the ones faithful even in small matters that “Jehovah is safeguarding.”—Ps. 31:23.
12. Describe how time and circumstances are related to this matter of faithfulness.
12 So one does not have to hold a position of prominence in the Christian congregation in order to enjoy Jehovah’s blessing that he pours out on those who are faithful. In your daily activity, whether it involves business or pleasure, either among others or just by yourself, faithfulness and integrity on your part will mirror the God who is righteous and faithful. As with proving endurance, so too it takes time to prove one’s faithfulness. It means practicing the truth day after day, making obedience to Scriptural laws and principles your way of life. In turn, Jehovah blesses you, as it is written: “A man of faithful acts will get many blessings.”—Prov. 28:20.
13, 14. (a) By what should we measure the degree of our faithfulness? (b) What are some of the areas in which we can appraise our faithfulness to Jehovah?
13 Looking back for a moment, you may not think that anything of really great consequence has happened in your life. Judging by the world’s standards of achievement and success, probably you have not accomplished anything really great. But whose ways are you trying to copy? To whose standards have you been trying to attain? If you have been building a life record to please Jehovah, it will not be quickly forgotten by that God of faithfulness.
14 Stop and think. How do others view you? What is your reputation among your contemporaries and associates? Do they observe that you are one who strictly keeps his word? Do you have the reputation of one who pays his debts and who follows the policy of being prompt about everything? Perhaps it is a matter of being regular in Kingdom service and at meetings for worship. These may seem to be little things, but they could lead others to view you as someone faithful. Now, if others have noticed the way you have been conducting your life, has not your Father in the heavens seen and noted it too?
DOES NATURAL ABILITY PLAY A PART?
15, 16. (a) How may ability be defined, and does it have any bearing on the selection of elders in the congregation? (b) Besides natural abilities, what more important qualifications must appointed elders have?
15 Ability is said to be the power to perform. There is no question but that natural aptitude can be a great blessing. But is natural ability the important thing that God is looking for among his people?
16 It is true, in selecting elders in the congregation, ability is given consideration. Some may be gifted in certain ways. For example, to be an elder one must be “qualified to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:2) But this involves more than natural ability. A qualified teacher in the congregation needs to have accurate knowledge. He must know the whys and wherefores and have a deep insight into the Holy Scriptures. And more than having knowledge, he must be tactful, patient and interested in other people in order to be an effective teacher. The apostle Paul instructed Titus to make appointments of older men, stating that an overseer must be “holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9) Such accredited ones do not rely on their natural abilities but look to their Grand Instructor for guidance in assisting others in the congregation.
17. Those with natural abilities and special talents need to guard against what?
17 A measure of ability is often required to do certain other types of work in the congregation. But the results that are obtained should not be attributed just to personal ability or talent. In fact, those blessed with natural abilities need to be careful not to rely on their own understanding, but, rather, to lean on Jehovah, asking him to direct their steps. (Prov. 3:5, 6) Observation will usually show that those serving among us as elders, and others who are working hard, qualify through diligent study and application of what they learn. Over a period of time they have paid close attention to themselves and to their teaching, inclining their ears to God’s instruction. They have wanted to do his work as he wishes it to be done, and it is commendable to see how they allow Jehovah to use their time and talents in various ways to promote his worship.
18. Does God look upon elders and ministerial servants as men of greater faithfulness in the congregation? Explain.
18 How, then, does God view those who are serving as appointed overseers? Does he look upon them as more precious than others? As more faithful than others? No, it is good to keep things in proper perspective. Those selected to oversee are actually there to serve as slaves or servants, and as such they must wholeheartedly use their abilities and talents to the full in proving their faithfulness. They enjoy their privileges, not primarily because of what or who they are. Rather, they are in their respective positions because of a need created by the Kingdom proclaimers. Following the advice of Jesus, they minister to those in the congregation toward whom they are slaves. (Luke 22:26; Gal. 5:13) Faithful overseers recognize that their work is in connection with their fellow publishers of the good news, all of whom are precious in God’s sight when they demonstrate faithfulness.
19. What, then, is looked for in appointed overseers in the Christian congregation?
19 The responsibility and administrative duties of a steward suitably illustrate the ministry of a Christian overseer. Faithfulness is strictly required of them, as emphasized by what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, when he said: “What is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2) This same apostle wrote to Titus, saying: “For an overseer must be free from accusation as God’s steward . . . hospitable, a lover of goodness, sound in mind, righteous, loyal, self-controlled.” (Titus 1:7, 8) It follows, then, that any ability a steward may have, natural or acquired, if it is to be of real value to God, must be coupled with the sterling quality of faithfulness. Even David, who pictured Christ Jesus, said: “My eyes are upon the faithful ones of the earth, that they may dwell with me. The one walking in a faultless way, he it is who will minister to me.”—Ps. 101:6.
20. Why is faithfulness, and not ability, the thing Jehovah is looking for among those he approves?
20 Ability is something that one can receive from Jehovah as a gift. In Exodus, for example, we read how Jehovah gave wisdom, understanding and knowledge to certain ones who worked in building the beautiful tabernacle there in the wilderness. (See Exodus 35:30–36:1.) But when it comes to faithfulness, this is not something that God gives a person. Nor is it something that is inherited or that is automatically received at baptism. It must be worked at, developed. It takes time, effort, endurance to build up a record testifying to one’s way of life. It is up to the worshiper himself to display it as he does his work, carrying out his stewardship in faithfulness.—1 Pet. 4:10.
THE PART MODESTY PLAYS
21. When it comes to boasting, what do the Scriptures counsel?
21 When it comes to a proper estimate of oneself, Jehovah gives this fine counsel: “Wisdom is with the modest ones.” (Prov. 11:2) One walking modestly with God realizes that he has nothing to brag about in himself, regardless of his ability or accomplishments. If he wants to boast, let him boast about the wonderful God he serves. This is what the Bible urges when it says that one should not brag about himself because of his mightiness or his riches. But, rather, let him brag about the fact that he knows Jehovah as a God of loving-kindness, justice and mercy.—Jer. 9:23, 24.
22, 23. (a) How should we look upon any material possessions we might have? (b) Having done all we can, still how should we view ourselves? (c) What will help a person to keep from becoming bored and discouraged?
22 Some may have a little more of this world’s goods than others. Some may seemingly have a better station in life. But the instruction is most straightforward that the Christian must not be overconfident, relying on the things he possesses, but, rather, must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. (Luke 12:15; Phil. 2:12) This recommended way of life means staying totally involved in pure worship, being rich in fine works.—1 Tim. 6:17-19.
23 Any resources or talents that a person has should be viewed as a treasure held in trust, to be used to God’s honor and glory. In this way it will protect a person from getting puffed up because of his accomplishments in serving Jehovah. A fine attitude that everyone should cultivate after having done what was assigned is: “We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.” (Luke 17:10) Serving as God directs, doing so gladly and willingly and dependably, whether prominently or not, is something that is agreeable to him. No one, however, should have a feeling of frustration or uselessness, even though there may be a certain sameness or monotony about the routine of work performed. Remember, what Jehovah continues to look for among his servants is that they be found always faithful in whatever he gives them to do.
24. Of what benefit to those faithful to Jehovah is the counsel at Romans 12:16?
24 Accurate knowledge of God’s ways helps to keep one humble and to prevent one from minding lofty things. (Rom. 12:16) It safeguards a person from boasting in what he has done and aids him faithfully to direct attention to the Source of goodness and greatness. If one is prominent, let it be because of loyal service to the true God and because of unselfishly giving of oneself on behalf of others. A favorable name with Jehovah should be the thing desired, having a reputation for faithfulness—that is the way of life God approves.—Eccl. 7:1.
HAVING A GOOD NAME WITH JEHOVAH
25. Following Pentecost 33 C.E., what assurance do we have that the twelve apostles were all faithful down to their death?
25 Even though the Bible makes no mention after Pentecost of 33 C.E. of most of the twelve apostles, and though there is no Biblical record of how they died, aside from James and a prophetic statement concerning Peter, the evidence indicates that they all maintained their faithfulness until death. We can be sure that they used their “all” in sacred service to the living God. And we can be sure that Jehovah did not forget any of them either. As enduring testimony to their faithfulness their names are inscribed on the foundations of the New Jerusalem.—Rev. 21:14.
26. What encouragement are “old-timers” able to give to their younger brothers and sisters?
26 Today we have many “old-timers” associated with the Christian congregations who for many years have remained steadfastly faithful to Jehovah in the face of many obstacles. Now they are getting old and infirm and many of them are not able to accept heavy responsibilities in the congregation. But what a blessing to have them around! Their love and zeal are an incentive for fellow publishers to press on in the Lord’s work. Though some are quite limited in physical strength, it is an encouragement to see them save some energy for Christian meetings and the field service.
27, 28. (a) What valuable service do the sisters in the congregations perform? (b) Describe how the human body is a good example of the Christian congregation.
27 Additionally, there are many women in the congregations and these do not qualify as elders or ministerial servants. They too are very much needed and are a great assistance in getting the “good news” of the Kingdom preached in all the world before the end comes. One is reminded of Psalm 68:11, 12: “Jehovah himself gives the saying; the women telling the good news are a large army. . . . As for her who abides at home, she shares in the spoil.”
28 There are many functions to be performed by various organs in the human body. So also in the Christian congregation there are various duties that different ones may perform. No one should feel unwanted or say to another, “I have no need of you.” The entire congregational arrangement serves to produce mature Christians for God’s glory.—1 Cor. 12:4-7, 21, 22.
29. When all in the congregation work together in peace and unity, what is accomplished? Illustrate.
29 Monumental results are obtained when old and young diligently work together in fulfilling their commission to preach the Word. You may create a spark of interest by encouraging someone to read a Bible study aid. Time passes and someone else may water the seed of interest. Another may cultivate from time to time, and God keeps making it grow. (1 Cor. 3:6) Later, perhaps years later, at an assembly you may be introduced to this same individual—now your spiritual brother or sister! So, if it takes time to see the results of our preaching, let this not discourage us from speaking to everyone we meet, doing so from a heart full of love for Jehovah. (Rom. 10:10) You can also attract friends and neighbors to the message about our God Jehovah by letting them observe your pure Christian conduct.—2 Pet. 3:11, 12.
30. What should be our determination as we stand on the threshold of Har–Magedon?
30 It is marvelous to watch so many turning to righteousness and the service of our God, dedicating their lives to the doing of the divine will in these “last days.” Soon we see them, in turn, helping others to cultivate a love for Jehovah. There is great joy to have any part, even a very small part, in this ingathering work that is taking place in all parts of the earth. As we stand at the threshold of Har–Magedon and behold the incomparable blessings soon to follow, now is no time to be looking back with regrets. It is a time to build a fine reputation of faithfulness, for that is what God is looking for in those who have made up their minds to worship him wholeheartedly.
31. What is more to be desired than material riches, and how may it be obtained?
31 All the riches one might accumulate cannot compare with the name and reputation one makes with one’s Creator the Life-Giver. “A good name is more to be desired than great riches.” (Prov. 22:1, New English Bible) With the Bible’s standard to help us to distinguish right from wrong, may we be diligent in following a way of life that God approves, namely, one of faithfulness.
[Picture on page 529]
Since Jehovah demonstrates the superlative degree of faithfulness, the sun and moon are fitting symbols of the unchangeableness of his purpose