Faithfulness (noun): from the Latin fidelis, as in the Marine motto, Semper Fidelis: Always faithful. It means constancy in the performance of duties; not wavering; steady; constant; reliable.
The reason this word has been on my mind a lot lately is because Psalm 37 has been on my mind a lot lately. Specifically, Psalm 37:3- "Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness." Some translations say "Feed on HIS faithfulness" while others say to "Dwell in the land and CULTIVATE faithfulness." I've been pondering both and wondering, well, which is it? Do we feed on His faithfulness or are we to cultivate faithfulness in our own lives?
The first time I read it in the translation where the instruction was to "cultivate faithfulness." Or, as God's Word translation says, "Practice being faithful." As I was going about my daily round I would hear this voice, "Cultivate faithfulness. Practice being faithful." I talked to the kids about it as we went about our days. We talked about what it looks like. It's freezing outside. Do I have to feed and water the chickens? Cultivate faithfulness. I don't want to put my laundry away today! Cultivate faithfulness. We talked about how sometimes we are doing fun stuff that we love, and other times we are cultivating faithfulness by doing the difficult or mundane, necessary things. I felt like His Word was this little cheerleader in my head, reminding me that when I was meeting the constant demands of lots of little nurslings and hungry children and doing that one more load of laundry and getting up for the fourth time of the night to nurse again, I wasn't "just" doing any of those things. I was doing the very important work of cultivating faithfulness. It spurred me on to carry on. I used it to spur the carrying on of everyone I came in contact with. Since I was meditating on it, the words just flowed from my mouth: "You are cultivating faithfulness. Keep on keeping on. Cultivate faithfulness." I looked up cultivate to understand it more, and it's essentially a gardening term for tilling up the land, preparing it for crops. In the 1828 dictionary I found such words to describe it as "to labor on", "to labor to improve or advance". It has this idea of laboring to complete the duties assigned to you with excellence. It's one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. "The fruit of the Spirit is. . . . faithfulness." So as we walk with the Spirit, we become more and more faithful.
Next I looked up where the word "faithfulness" was found in the Bible, and guess what? I was pretty surprised to see that it is used far more often to describe HIM than to describe us. Lamentations 3:23 says that His faithfulness is great. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says that He who calls you is faithful and will sanctify you completely. 2 Timothy 2:13 promises that even when we are not faithful, He is still faithful. We see His faithfulness every day in the rising of the sun once more, in the tides continuing to rise and fall, in the moon continuing to wax and wane. He is still being faithful to keep us. So I started meditating on the version that reads, "Feed on His faithfulness." The Amplified Bible says, "Feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed." I like that. It reminds me of the Israelites who were given manna each morning, exactly enough for each day. They literally fed on His faithfulness. We may not realize it, but we literally feed on His faithfulness daily too. It may sound depressing or weird, but sometimes I like to imagine the very worst things happening and how God would be faithful in it. I told a friend just this weekend that I have an urge to write a story about a momma of seven, living out in the country, and losing her husband in a tragic death, but living through it victoriously by feeding on His faithfulness and seeing Him be good in the midst. Because I know He would! I have confidence that if any of my "what ifs" happened, He would feed me on His faithfulness and I would be sustained. We all would. That's a good feeling.
So, which is it? Do we cultivate faithfulness or do we feed on His faithfulness?
I say yes. Both. :) As we feed on His faithfulness, we are empowered to cultivate faithfulness too. And on the days when we fail to be faithful, He still remains faithful. What solid foundations to stand on. Praise the Lord!