Many misguided notions have tarnished the meaning of faith.
Some believe faith is purely a mental endeavor, devoid of activity; others suggest that faith may be adopted as part of a one-and-done transaction, with no need of continuation; still others argue that faith is not man’s responsibility — that God alone will furnish faith in the heart.
In the Lord’s parable of the talents, the savior rewards the servant who was given five talents, and who, by faith, had gained five more. Here is his famous response:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things; I shall appoint you over many things. Enter into your Lord’s delight” (Mt. 25.21).
Take note of these points:
First, the Lord emphasizes the active nature of faith: “Well done.” Faith is more than a mental exercise, for it makes external gains in the real world. Too, a “good and faithful servant” does not just think — he does (i.e., serves; Jms. 2.18-26).
Second, the Lord stresses the ongoing nature of faith: “you were faithful.” The verb is in the imperfect tense, suggesting sustained activity — you kept being faithful. Faith must be maintained, if it is to be rewarded (cf. 2 Tim. 4.7).
Third, the Lord demonstrates that faith is very much man’s responsibility: “you were faithful…I shall appoint you…” Notice the distinction between what the faithful servant did and what his Lord shall do for him. God will do his part, if only man will do his.