“Faithfulness”—Can It Help You?
“I’M FED UP! I can’t take it anymore!” How often have you heard someone make such an exclamation or been tempted to make it yourself? Huge increases in crime, violence, injustice and other oppressive conditions have brought many to the point of giving up on life.
But it is possible to maintain a cheerful disposition in spite of distressing circumstances. In this regard, the Scriptures highlight the importance of “faithfulness.” Showing how helpful this quality can be is an experience of the prophet Habakkuk.
Though he evidently lived during the seventh century B.C.E., Habakkuk faced circumstances very similar to those that masses of people face today. The prophet lamented the violence, pillaging and strife that were everywhere to be seen. (Hab. 1:1-3) “Therefore law grows numb, and justice never goes forth,” exclaimed Habakkuk, adding: “Because the wicked one is surrounding the righteous one, for that reason justice goes forth crooked.”—Hab. 1:4.
Like many today, God’s prophet wanted to know why the Most High tolerates such wickedness. (Hab. 1:13, 14) The Creator provided the following answer:
“Write down the vision, and set it out plainly upon tablets, in order that the one reading aloud from it may do so fluently. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Hab. 2:2, 3.
The “vision” that appeared to be delaying as to fulfillment concerned the destruction of the wicked, both those among God’s people and those who did not claim to be worshipers of Jehovah. Though seemingly delayed, that vision was certain to be fulfilled.
But while waiting for it, how should God’s prophet conduct himself? This is where the Scriptures mention faithfulness. Habakkuk was told: “Look! His soul has been swelled up; it has not been upright within him. But as for the righteous one, by his faithfulness he will keep living.” (Hab. 2:4) How does “faithfulness” make it possible for a person to “keep living”? There is an important lesson in this even for people alive today.
Faithfulness in this context does not mean simply a mental acknowledgment that God exists. Rather, it means faith or firm confidence in God’s promise to bring an end to oppressive conditions. Repeatedly the Scriptures highlight the pleasure that God takes in those who confidently believe such promises, as well as his displeasure in persons who lack faith. This is well stated at Hebrews 11:6, where we read: “Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”
How, then, will the faithful one “keep living”? This has reference both to the present and to the future.
According to the lexicon by William Gesenius, often the Hebrew word for “live” means “to live well, prosperously, to prosper, to thrive.” One with firm faith in God’s promise to abolish evildoers from the earth will enjoy a much happier life in the meantime. The prophet Micah, who lived during times so treacherous that a person could not trust even his marriage mate (“her who is lying in your bosom”), displayed a fine attitude when he said: “But as for me, it is for Jehovah that I shall keep on the lookout. I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation.” (Mic. 7:5-7) Likewise, those who show “a waiting attitude” toward God today will find that widespread evildoing does not get the better of them.
Another benefit of faithfulness is the fact that God will ‘preserve alive’ the congregation of his faithful servants during calamitous situations, including even the threat of death. (Ps. 33:18, 19; 41:1, 2; 138:7) Examples of this are Jeremiah and Ebed-melech, who apparently were contemporaries of Habakkuk. Both survived the overthrow of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which was part of the vision of God’s judgments mentioned by Habakkuk.—Hab. 1:6-11; compare Jeremiah 39:11-18; 40:1-10.
The prediction that men of faithfulness will keep living is especially meaningful for Christians. The apostle Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek; for in it God’s righteousness is being revealed by reason of faith and toward faith, just as it is written: ‘But the righteous one—by means of faith he will live.’”—Rom. 1:16, 17.
With these words Paul emphasized special benefits that come to persons who exercise faith in the sin-atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Such faith not only brings God’s blessing on its possessors while they await the end of wickedness, but also leads to forgiveness of sins, a righteous standing with God and “salvation”—yes, the opportunity to “keep living” eternally in perfection.—Hab. 2:4; John 3:16; Acts 10:43; 26:18; Gal. 2:15, 16.
In view of these happy prospects, all lovers of God today will profit from this further Scriptural admonition concerning faith: “Do not, therefore, throw away your freeness of speech, which has a great reward to be paid it. For you have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise. For yet ‘a very little while,’ and ‘he who is coming will arrive and will not delay.’ ‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Heb. 10:35-39.
Indeed, faithfulness to God can help you. Faithful ones will “keep living” both by enjoying the blessings of a godly life now and by gaining eternal life in the new order of “new heavens and a new earth,” foretold in Bible prophecy. (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-5) With this in view, all lovers of God will faithfully heed the inspired admonition: “Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true.”—Hab. 2:3.
“A man of faithful acts will get many blessings, but he that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.”—Prov. 28:20.
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“Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true.”—Hab. 2:3.
WHAT DID THE PROPHET HABAKKUK MEAN BY THAT?