The Greatest Ability is Dependability (faithfulness)
The Fruit of the Spirit Series
“The Greatest Ability Is Dependability”
Galatians 5:22
On the afternoon of September 18, 1870, the members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition were traveling down the Firehole River from the Kepler Cascades and entered the Upper Geyser Basin in what we now know as Yellowstone National Park. The first geyser they saw was Old Faithful. In his 1871 Scribner's account of the expedition, Nathaniel P. Langford wrote:
“ Judge, then, what must have been our astonishment, as we entered the basin at mid-afternoon of our second day's travel, to see in the clear sunlight, at no great distance, an immense volume of clear, sparkling water projected into the air to the height of one hundred and twenty-five feet.
"Geysers! geysers!" exclaimed one of our company, and, spurring our jaded horses, we soon gathered around this wonderful phenomenon. It was indeed a perfect geyser.
The aperture through which the jet was projected was an irregular oval, three feet by seven in diameter. The margin of sinter was curiously piled up, and the exterior crust was filled with little hollows full of water, in which were small globules of sediment, some having gathered around bits of wood and other nuclei.
This geyser is elevated thirty feet above the level of the surrounding plain, and the crater rises five or six feet above the mound. It spouted at regular intervals nine times during our stay, the columns of boiling water being thrown from ninety to one hundred and twenty-five feet at each discharge, which lasted from fifteen to twenty minutes. We gave it the name of "Old Faithful."
There are over 200 geysers in Yellowstone National Park.  But Old Faithful stands out from all the others, not because it is the largest geyser or reaches the greatest height, but because of its dependability.  Once every 90 minutes or so, just like clock-work,  it shoots a stream of boiling water over 145 ft. into the air.  And because of that regularity, they called it “Old Faithful.”
There are many things in life that you could call faithful.  The sun is faithful to rise every morning and to set every night.  The tide is faithful to come in and to go out.  The government is faithful to tax and spend, and then tax and spend some more.  But the only reason we can call those things faithful is because the One Who designed them is faithful.
Lamentations 3:22-23 say, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Every day we as Christians experience the faithfulness of God.  When we are touched by sin, God is faithful to keep us in his family. 
1 Corinthians 1:8-9 says that “God will confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When we are tempted to sin, God is faithful to provide a way of escape.  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
When we get tangled in sin, God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Revelation 19:11 describes the second coming of Jesus, and here is what we read:  “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And he who sat on him was called “Faithful and True.”
We are told that the fruit of the spirit is faithfulness. To understand what faithfulness is, and what faithfulness does, Jesus told a parable to illustrate the fruit of faithfulness.  It is found in Matthew 25.
We call it the parable of the talents and it tells us three great truths about God and his desire, even his demand, for faithfulness. 
First of all, we discover
!. How God Regards Responsibility
Faithfulness is not only something God desires, and something that God admires, but it is also something that God requires.
Matthew 25:14-15
Now talents here refer to a measure of money.  A talent was equivalent to about 6,000 denarii and one denarius was equal to one day’s wage of a common laborer.  Certainly it does deal with money management, but it deals with more than just money management. 
Talents really represent areas of responsibility.  In the parable the master represents god; the servants represent us.  You notice that the talents were given from the master to the servants.  You see, we are owners of nothing.  But we are stewards of everything.
These talents represent responsibilities.  Now responsibility is our response to God’s ability to use what He has given us for His glory. 
The very fact that God has given to each one of us talents and abilities automatically clues us in to the fact that God requires faithfulness.  So let me give you my definition of faithfulness:  Faithfulness is simply doing your duty until your duty is done. 
Robert E. Lee once said, “Duty is the sublimest word in our language.  Do your duty in all things.  You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less”
To put it another way, faithfulness is simply taking every opportunity to use every ability for the glory of God.  You notice that verse 15 tells us that each man was given talents “according to his own ability.”
Now notice that everyone was given at least one talent.  That tells us that every servant was also a steward. 
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “. . .it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
Now we are all stewards, and we are all to be faithful in our stewardship.  The word stewardship simply means management.  I want to repeat, we are owners of nothing; we are managers of everything. 
Not everyone is born with equal ability.  But everyone is born with an equal responsibility to take every opportunity to use the ability you have for the glory of god.  That is why I say that the greatest ability is dependability.  For dependability is simply taking every opportunity to use your ability for the glory and the honor of god.
That means that being faithful is simply giving one hundred percent of your effort one hundred percent of the time.  We are living in a society that is more and more teaching young people “just to get by.”
May I tell you something?  Even 99.9% is not good enough if that does not represent your best.  The only “good enough” that is good enough for God is your absolute best.  Anything less is being unfaithful.
Think about it this way:  For those of you who think that “just getting by” is good enough, consider that
- 103,260 income tax returns will be processed incorrectly this year.
- 22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next sixty minutes.
- 1,314 phone calls will be mis-routed every minute.
- 12 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.
- 5,517,200 cases of soft drinks produced in the next twelve months will be flatter than a bad tire.
- Two plane landings daily at O’Hare international airport in Chicago will be unsafe.
- 18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled in the next hour.
- 291 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly this year. 
- 880,000 credit cards in circulation will turn out to have incorrect cardholder information on their magnetic strips.
- 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written in the next twelve months.
- 107 incorrect medical procedures will be performed by the end of the day today.
And for most of us, it ain’t no big deal unless it is us.  I know some of you well enough to know you’ll chew out a clerk if your change is off by a few cents!  And if you’re meal is wrong or late, the whole restaurant will know there was a problem! 
And yet you can loaf around and be lazy on God and piddle around with responsibilities at the church because , after all, “getting by” is good enough!
You better keep in mind that being responsible is a big deal with God!  He expects faithfulness in carrying out the responsibilities we have all been given.
We also find out in this text
 2. How God Requires Accountability
Verses 16-19
The master in the parable returns, and we’re simply told in verse 19, “he settled accounts with them”
Now to settle an account simply means to call for an accounting.  That is, you ask for accountability.
You see, what you have God gives you.  What God gives you, you are to use.  You are accountable to use what God gives you for his glory and pleasure. 
God has invested talents in us.  God has invented tasks for us, and God requires a return on his investment.  Do you realize that practically every area of our lives involves the opportunity to take responsibility to be faithful in using our abilities for the glory of God?  Let me just share with you some areas in which God demands and expects us to be faithful.
We ought to be faithful in our work. 
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” That means you show up on time.  You don’t leave early.  You give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage.  You don’t watch the clock.  You do your absolute best.  Anything less is to be unfaithful. 
We ought to be faithful with our wealth
Jesus said in Luke 16:11, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”
In other words, Jesus said if you cannot be trusted with earthly riches, you cannot be trusted with eternal riches. 
The Bible very plainly says that if you are not a tither, you are a robber.  You rob God.  If you are not giving to God what God plainly says in His Word, you are unfaithful.
We are to be faithful in our worship. 
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhort one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.”
May I just say at this point, that the one thing any pastor really wants out of a church member more than anything else, is just old fashion faithfulness. 
I read how one pastor dedicated a book to his people, and this is what he wrote:
I dedicate this book with indescribable gratitude to 'the faithful church member’; that wonderful person whose praises go so largely unsung, but without whose regular attendance, constant dependability, faithful intercession, lasting affection, and unstinted generosity in the giving of time, money, and strength, the work of the pastor would not be possible.
Let me ask all of you a question.  Do you apply the same standards of faithfulness to your Christian activities that you expect from other areas of your life? 
If your car starts once every three times, is it reliable?
If your newspaper is not delivered every Monday and Thursday, is your deliverer trustworthy?
If you don’t go to work once or twice a month, are you a loyal employee?
If your refrigerator stops working for a day or two every now and then, do you say, “on well, it works most of the time?”
If your water heater provides an icy-cold shower every now and then, is it dependable?
If you miss a couple of loan payments every year, does the bank say, “ten out of twelve isn’t bad?”
If you fail to worship God one or two Sundays a month, would you expect to be called a faithful Christian?
Anything less than being here every time we are able is simply being unfaithful. 
And yet it is amazing to me how many never come any time other than Sunday morning.  We have Sunday School teachers and deacons who don’t bother to return on Sunday nights or Wednesday nights.  Many never come to prayer meeting and you are chosen by God and elected by the church to set the standard for faithfulness. 
Listen:  There may be a whole lot of things you aren’t gifted to do, but anybody can come to church, and most everybody can bring some money with them when they come. 
Faithful in our work, faithful with our worship, faithful with our wealth and
We ought to be faithful to our word.
Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
It is really true that you are no better than your word.  I still believe that the weakest handshake should be better than the strongest ink on any contract.  Have you ever thought about the fact that your word is the only thing not worth giving unless you keep it?  To do otherwise is to be unfaithful.
Finally, we ought to be faithful in our witness. 
In Revelation 1:5, Jesus Christ is called “the faithful witness.”
We ought to be faithful in sharing Jesus with those who are lost; not to do so is to be unfaithful, and I remind you in all of these areas and more, God is going to require accountability.
Finally, notice
3.  How God Rewards Dependability
verses 20-23
Do you see here how even though one person had more talents than the other one (and probably more abilities), they each received an equal reward?  Friend, the Lord Jesus is not looking for equal success.  He is looking for total faithfulness. 
Get this down.  Rewards are not going to be given according to ability, nor even according to responsibility, but according to dependability. 
1 Corinthians 3:8 says, “Each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
You are not accountable for being the best, but you are accountable for doing your best. 
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail;
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail;
Be the best of whatever you are.
You see, faithfulness is not a matter of temporary success, church recognition, or popularity.  It is simply a matter of doing your best with the talents, abilities, and opportunities that God has given to you.
Did you know that real faithfulness is seen not in big things; it’s seen in small things.  Do you notice that in verses 21 and 23 the master says to both of these servants, “You were faithful over a few things.”
What’s wrong with most people is that they think they are too good for the small things.  They want to get on with the big things.  Longfellow once said, “Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambition.”   
I heard about a man who was talking to a big tall strapping giant of a fellow.  He said, “If I were as big, tall, and strong as you, I would go out in the woods, find the biggest bear I could find and wrestle him right down to the ground.” That man just looked at him and said, “There are plenty of little bears in the woods.”
Some people say, “If I just had a million dollars all the things I would do for god.” The fact is, you’ll do the same thing with a million that you would do with a hundred.
Jesus said in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
You know, big things are really made up of small things. Did you ever think about that?  Just a few years ago, there was a great fuss about Y2K.  A brand new millennium was beginning.  Well, what is a millennium? 
A millennium is a set of 10 centuries; centuries are made up of decades; decades are made up of years; years are made up of months; months are made up of weeks; weeks are made up of days; days are made of hours; hours are made up of minutes; minutes are made up of seconds; and seconds are made up of moments.  It’s the little things that make up the big things. 
I asked Lisa the other day if she married me for my looks.  She said, “No, I didn’t marry you for your looks, I married you for your brains; it’s the little things that count.”
You may not think it is very important to be faithful in little things, and you may not think it is very important to be unfaithful in little things, but notice what happened to the unfaithful servant:
Verses 24-30
Now here is another great lesson to learn about using your talents for the Lord and being faithful.  You either use it or you lose it.  You all know that atrophy overtakes organs in the body that are not used. 
In mammoth cave in Kentucky, the fish in Echo River have eye sockets but no eyes.  The reason is that living in continual darkness has caused their eyes to disappear because they were not able to function. 
What is true of their eyes is also true of the gifts and abilities God has given you; if you do not use gifts here on earth, you will not have the opportunity to use your gifts up in heaven.      
I don’t know about you, but the only thing I really care about is to come to the end of my life and have the Lord Jesus say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I heard about a man who was eating at a restaurant and he was furious when they brought his steak because it was rare.  He said, “Waiter, come over here.” The waiter came over, and he said, “Didn’t you hear me say 'well done’?” The waiter said, “Oh, thank you very much sir, I hardly ever get a compliment around here.”
Well, I tell you there is no higher compliment or greater reward than simply hearing Jesus say, “Well done.”
We are living in a day when people are trying to get all kinds of academic degrees.  There is the PhD. the D.D., the M.D., the Th.D and on and on the list goes.   But I think we ought to be looking for the W.D., “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
More than two hundred years ago, when the United States Marine Corps was being formed, much time was given to considering an appropriate motto.   
They finally chose the Latin phrase: Semper Fidelis.  Semper Fidelis is engraved on the mind of every United States Marine.  What does it mean?  Always faithful.
Now those are two very powerful words, but the more important of the two is the first because it explains “how “a marine is to be faithful. 
A marine is not to be faithful only when it is convenient, only when he feels like it, only when it will make him happy.  Semper fidelis means always faithful, regardless of the cost.
The fruit of the spirit is faithfulness.  The greatest ability is dependability, and it is to that faithful servant that Jesus will say, “Well done.”
Let’s pray


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