Arthur Pink, 1939
"It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." 1 Corinthians 4:2
From the preceding verse it is clear that the Apostle was having reference to the ministers of Christ, those whom He has appointed to act as officers in His churches. Other virtues are desirable—but fidelity is imperative. No matter how gifted a man may be, if he is untrue to this trust, he is an offense unto Christ and a stumbling block to His people. Ministerial faithfulness includes loyalty to his Master, devotion to His interests, steadfast adherence to the preaching of His Word, dispensing the Truth unto those whose souls are committed to Him—not mixing it with his speculations, much less substituting false doctrine. A far higher motive than the pleasing of his hearers must actuate and regulate ministerial service.
Those who have been much used of God have ever been men in whom this grace of faithfulness was outstandingly prominent. The father of all who believe is expressly designated "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9). Concerning Moses the Lord testified, "who is faithful in all His house" (Num. 12:7). What a blessed witness is that borne to Daniel: "Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible." (Dan. 6:4). Of himself Paul wrote, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry" (1 Tim. 1:12). Concerning Timothy he testified, "For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord" (1 Cor. 4:17). What is now being recorded in the Lord's "book of remembrance" of you and I, fellow-minister?
Loyalty to God has always been a costly matter—but individual faithfulness has never involved more personal sacrifice than it does in this day of abounding disloyalty, hypocrisy and compromise. Faithful preaching will render the minister unpopular, and will 'empty' churches—not 'fill' them. It will close doors against him, and if he is without a charge he will find his services are not wanted. It cost Joseph something to be faithful! It did Daniel; it did Paul; and it does every minister of Christ in this degenerate and adulterous age. How necessary it is then for the minister to strengthen his heart by laying hold of those promises which are specially given to faithfulness. Here is one of them: "the Lord preserves the faithful" (Psalm 31:23)—from those rocks upon which so many self-seekers make shipwreck.
"He who has My Word—let him speak My Word faithfully" (Jer. 23:28), no matter how unpalatable it may be to the flesh, how much of a weariness to those who wish to have their ears tickled with novelties, or how loud the outcry against it is. "An unreliable messenger stumbles into trouble, but a reliable messenger brings healing" (Proverbs 13:17): that is, he maintains his own soul in good health, and exerts a healing influence upon others. "A faithful witness will not lie" (Proverbs 14:5). He who maintains a pure conscience before God will not dare to give forth a testimony which he knows to be untrue. Nor will he represent anything to be other than it is—in order to obtain the good-will of men. Consequently, "He who speaks truth shows forth righteousness" (Proverbs 12:17): that is, by making conscience of veracity and integrity, he makes it clear that he is governed by the principle of righteousness.
How much there is in Scripture to stimulate the minister unto fidelity! "A faithful witness delivers souls" (Proverbs 14:25), and he is the only one who ever does so. Souls are caught fast in the meshes of Satan's lies, and nothing but the sword of God's Truth can cut them free. However unpopular he may be among men, the faithful witness is approved of and is pleasing to God. "As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refreshes the soul of his masters" (Proverbs 25:13). Yes, such are "a sweet savor to God" (2 Cor. 2:15). What holy encouragement is there here for the hearts of the Lord's servants! What rich compensation for the slights and sneers of men!
"Their speech is filled with flattery." (Psalm 5:9). This is the identifying mark of the "hireling," the false pastor. He aims at pleasing his hearers, making them feel satisfied with themselves, ever patting them on the back.
But what are the springs from which integrity and fidelity issue?
First, faith. It is striking to note that both in the Hebrew and the Greek the same word does duty for both "faith" (the noun) and "faithfulness" (the adjective). Unbelief, then, is the root of unfaithfulness.
Second the fear of God: "I gave my brother Hanani charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many" (Neh. 7:2). There is nothing like the fear of God to deliver us from the fear of men.
Third, love of God, for where that is warm there must be the desire to please Him at all costs.
But let not the reader suppose that this grace is something restricted to Christ's ministers—not so, God requires it from all His people. This is clear from the opening verses of Ephesians, which is distinctly addressed to "the faithful in Christ Jesus." Much of what has been said above applies with equal force to the rank and file of the saints. They, too, will find that loyalty to God and fidelity to His Word will cost them much in the world today, where there is so much pretense, sham, and double dealing. It will result in their receiving the "cold shoulder" even from many of those who profess to be fellow-Christians. But this must not deter them: "Be faithful unto death—and I will give you a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10), is the grand word to lay hold of.
Faithful people have always been in a marked minority. "Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!" (Psalm 12:1), cried David. Note how those two characteristics are conjoined, for piety and faithfulness are inseparable. Compare "good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:23). So, too, Solomon exclaimed, "A faithful man—who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6). Why is this? Because it is the part of fallen human nature to take the line of least resistance and choose the path easiest to the flesh. But remember, my reader, whoever you are, "lying lips are abomination to the Lord; but those who deal truly 'faithfully' are His delight" (Proverbs 12:22). Here is another of the Divine promises specially addressed to the faithful: "A faithful man shall abound with blessings" (Proverbs 28:20): the true way to be happy is to be holy and honest. He who is true to God and man—will be blessed by Him. O that it may be said of us, "Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do to the brethren, and to strangers" (3 John 5).