“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” —Matthew 23:23
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” —1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Four times a year we renew our baptismal covenant: on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, and on All Saints’ Sunday. In that covenant renewal we profess our faith by reciting the Apostles’ Creed, then we make a series of five vows (BCP p. 304). We promise that “with God’s help” we will:
- continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers
- persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord
- proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ
- seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves
- strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being
Faithfulness is keeping the promises and vows that we make. Are we keeping these vows that we renew quarterly each year? Or are we slipping on a few, making excuses for why that might not be a problem? A husband or wife who slips on the vows of matrimony to “be faithful to him (her) as long as you both shall live” (BCP p. 424) is considered an unfaithful spouse. We are the Bride of Christ. Are we being a faithful spouse, keeping the vows we have made?
Faithfulness is not easy when we try to do it in our own strength. That is why the Apostles’ Creed is contained in the Daily Office services of Morning and Evening Prayer. We renew our covenant four times a year, and we renew our commitment to God twice a day! We need to make a commitment daily to remain in faithfulness in our walk with Jesus Christ. Faithfulness is to be loyal, dependable, and true to one’s commitments.
The Greek word for faithfulness means dependability, trustworthiness. Can those around you depend on you to keep your word? Are you trustworthy? Do you do what you say you will do, when you said you would do it? Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). True faithfulness begins with your commitment to Jesus. Are you faithful in keeping your commitment to worship, to the breaking of bread, and to your daily prayers? Without that relationship with God all other commitments will falter.
We are striving to be Christlike, servants of the Most High God. Our Christ is the God who keeps covenant, and He is faithful. Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 2:13) that even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny himself.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 he said, “He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” Literally, faithfulness is the state of being full of faith in the sense of steady devotion to God and to those around us.
If the walls of the Temple are to stand we need to know that those around us are going to stand with us. And the other “bricks” in the wall around us need to have the confidence that we will stand fast in the faith regardless of the circumstances. Will we continue in the worship and prayers of the Church? Will we resist evil, proclaiming and living the Word, loving our neighbors as ourselves? Will we strive for justice, and respect the dignity of every human being? In a nutshell will our hearts be knit to the One who has called us into covenant relationship?
To be Christlike we must be in Christ. That is the covenant that we profess and renew four times a year. Are we living in that covenant relationship?