Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Dependability, Responsibility, and Faithfulness

Character Traits of the Spiritual Life:

Dependability, Resposibility, Faithfulness

Dependability, Responsibility, and Faithfulness

Richard Hollerman

Let me ask you several frank questions: Can people rely on you?  Do they have reason to trust your word?  Are you an absolutely dependable friend?  Can your supervisor at work rely on you in all circumstances?  Do people consider you to be responsible in all of your actions?  Are you faithful in your marriage, as a parent, as a child, on the job, and with your friends?  Are you a dependable brother or sister to other children of God?

Dependable means, “capable of being depended on; worthy of trust; reliable.”  Reliable is similarly defined: “Capable of being relied on; consistently dependable in character, judgment, performance, or result.”  Responsible also might be noticed: “Accountable, as for something within one’s power” and “chargeable with being the source or occasion of something” and “having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable.”  Faithful denotes “steady in allegiance or affection; loyal,” “reliable, trusted, or believed.”[i][i]

Faith or faithfulness comes from the Greek pistos.  This term “has both an active and a passive use.  In its active sense it means ‘trusting, believing.’  More often, though, it is passive, meaning ‘trustworthy, reliable, faithful.’  Pistos portrays an unshakable loyalty, which is displayed in a number of ways.”[ii][ii]  Barclay says that pistis in Galatians 5:22-23 is “the quality of reliability, trustworthiness, which makes a man a person on whom we can utterly rely and whose word we can utterly accept.”[iii][iii]  He thinks that “loyalty” may be the best translation of all.[iv][iv]

As in all of the virtues that God wants to find in our life, our faithfulness is based on God’s own faithfulness.  Paul declares that “God is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23; 1 Peter 4:19; 1 John 1:9).[v][v]  He manifests this in various ways.  For instance, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (10:13).  God can be relied on since He is absolutely dependable.  Paul affirms, “Faithful is He who calls you” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  Since God is faithful, it is not at all unreasonable for us to be faithful and trustworthy as we follow His example.

We are to be faithful in carrying out our duties.  Paul remarks, “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2).  As stewards of the abilities God has given, we must use these wisely and responsibly.  Timothy was like this, for Paul calls him “my beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (v. 17).  Tychicus was called a “faithful brother” and “faithful servant” Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7), and the believers at Colossae were called “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” (Colossians 1:2).  Jesus said that His devoted servant Antipas was His “witness” and “faithful one,” who even laid down his life for the Lord (Revelation 2:13).

God holds us accountable to Him for being faithful and dependable in all of our relationships and works.  Jesus commends “the faithful and sensible slave” in His parable (Matthew 24:45).  In another parable, Jesus has the master say, “Well done, good and faithful slave.  You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (25:21).  Will the Lord welcome us with a similar commendation—“Well done, John [or Mike, Mary, or Sue], for you have been a good and faithful servant!”  After Lydia was immersed into Christ, she said to Paul and his companions, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay” (Acts 16:15).  When we carry out the will of the Lord in a responsible way, we are considered faithful.  The Lord Jesus promised, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:11).  Indeed, we must be faithful and true in order to be eternally saved.

You may prove your faithfulness, your dependability, by how you labor on your job, how you carry out the duties of a husband or wife, how you honor your parents, how you raise your children, and how you relate to your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.  Someone has said, “Responsibility is not just doing what I said I would do, but doing what I know I should do.”[vi][vi]  Again, “The more responsible I am, the more freedom I will be given; the more freedom I am given, the more responsible I must be.”[vii][vii]  Remember how Joseph was utterly faithful and responsible, and he was given the chief position in Potiphar’s household (Genesis 39:1-6), and later became responsible as the chief of the prisoners (vv. 20-23).

When you are fulfilling your duties on the job, aim to have a good reputation with management as a dependable and responsible employee.  Arrive on time, don’t take advantage of the breaks, never steal anything (even small items), and give a whole day’s work for a whole day’s pay.  On the job, we are to be obedient, “with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ,” and are to be “doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:5-7).  We are to “work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance” (Colossians 3:23-24).

In conclusion, are your truly dependable?  Can people depend on you, on your words, and on your actions?  Are you truly responsible?  Do you refuse to be foolish and careless, but rather do you earnestly seek to live and act in a responsible manner?  Are you reliable?  In other words, can people rely on you to carry out your duties, to fulfill your obligations, and to sincerely care for the poor and needy?  Are you faithful?  Are you trustworthy in your heartfelt carrying out your responsibilities in a timely manner and with a good attitude?

[i][i] Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.

[ii][ii] Richards, Expository Dictionary.

[iii][iii] William Barclay, Flesh and Spirit (London: SCM Press, 1962), p. 108.

[iv][iv] Ibid.

[v][v] Christ is also “faithful” (2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 3:6; Revelation 1:5).

[vi][vi] The Power of True Success, p. 153.

[vii][vii] Ibid.



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