Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His Name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. (3 John 5–7—NKJV)

Preachers have said “your greatest ability is availability.” As valuable as availability is, I would prefer to amend the statement to read, “your greatest ability is dependability.” If you are dependable then you will be available. Dependability is faithfulness. Since it is generally true that people will make time for what they want to do, it is doubly important that Christians choose what they want to do based upon eternal principles.

There is a reason that faith is the root word of faithfulness. Faith means trust, confide, unquestioning belief, loyalty and allegiance. Therefore, faithfulness is keeping faith, being worthy of trust, honest, loyal, reliable and dependable. The implication is that a faithful person is one who steadfastly adheres to a person or thing to whom he is bound by an oath, duty, obligation (like a faithful husband). The opposite of faithful is faithless.

The same word interaction is found in the Greek language as well. The Greek word for faith is pistos. It can be translated by our word faith, faithful, keeping faith, and faithfully. The standard of faithfulness is set by our God for He is fully reliable. 1 John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 assures, “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Timothy 2:13 comforts us with these words, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 1 Peter 4:19 states, “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” At the end of time our Lord will arrive on this earth to set things right as Revelation 19:11 announces, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” Our God is nothing if He is not all powerful and He is not God if He is not faithful.

Loyalty among men is a characteristic that is generated by an internal set of beliefs. Team loyalty usually grows out of the thrill of the contest. Family loyalty is generated by a common last name and heritage. Friend loyalty is generated by common likes and pleasing ways. Covenant loyalty (lovingkindness) is generated by an internal set of beliefs rooted deeply within the character of an individual. This later loyalty is the kind of faithful dependability that is required of those who are transformed in the grace of God into saints of light.

When faithfulness is absent, relationships are painful. Proverbs 25:19 reads, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.” Our Lord evaluates faithfulness in His servants, as Matthew 25:21 states, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 reads, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” Paul addresses the saints in Ephesus and Colosse as faithful (1:1, 1:2) and identifies many by name as faithful in his epistles (Epaphras, Onesimus, and Timothy, among others). These are those who are transformed by the grace of God and display a deep character of faithfulness to God and keeping faith among men.

Our passage above speaks to the idea of keeping faith with men. “You do faithfully” can be translated “you do a faithful thing, whatever you work.” The “faithful thing” is a pledge guarantee. “You do” is how you perform, what you make your business. Vine’s says, “To do a faithful work is to do what is worthy of a faithful man.” Westcott expresses the translation with these words, “thou makest sure whatsoever thou workest.” The deep character of faithfulness will be expressed by words of commitment. Then the chosen obligations are dutifully executed bringing honor to our God (who is worthy of your faith and faithfulness). Keeping faith means to keep our word. Psalm 15:4 teaches, “In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change.”

Choose your obligations reflecting a faithful God’s intended purposes toward (and work in) the world around you. Conform your words to reflect the obligations God has placed upon you. Make it your business to perform your obligations under God. Trust and obey.