The Fruit of the Spirit (Part 7)
The Fruit of the Spirit (Part 7) John Guzzetta
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:23-25).
The Greek pistis is a broad term usually translated “faith,” signifying the belief in or acceptance of Jesus, or the body of teachings that goes along with it. For example, we are “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8) and we “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3).
But sometimes pistis is translated “faithfulness.” Here in Galatians 5, it is clear that the word signifies a virtue displayed as a result of being in Christ, something like trustworthiness or loyalty. Here it’s not so much faithful to Jesus, but faithful in life. It includes keeping your promises, staying true to your spouse, keeping your word when you shake on it, and even when you don’t.
Old Faithful earned the moniker because, while there are many geysers in Yellowstone, only one erupts with consistency. There are low benches all the way around it, so everyone can assemble at intervals to see it spout 170 feet in the air, about every 70 minutes.
The ancient Greeks thought of their pantheon of gods fickle, capricious, and unpredictable— basically like people. Apollo might promise one thing and change his mind later. Zeus might love you today, and zap you with a thunderbolt tomorrow out of boredom.
But Jehovah God is a faithful God. “God is faithful” is declared six times in the New Testament (1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Thess. 3:3; Hebrews 10:23; 1 John 1:9).
Paul proclaims that “as many are the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Corinthians 1:18–20). Any time God makes a promise He keeps it, even if He bends heaven and earth. He promised Abraham and Sarah a child, and even though it looked impossible, both of them being beyond childbearing age, God made it happen. He promised to save Israel, and even though it looked impossible, God parted the Red Sea to do it. God promised to save Jerusalem and Hezekiah from the Assyrian army, and even though it looked impossible, God sent a plague to kill 185,000 soldiers and chase them away before a single arrow was fired.
Therefore, when God promises Christ will return, it will happen. He is faithful. When God promises we will have a new body, it will happen. He is faithful. When God promises Heaven to the saved, it will happen. He is faithful. But when God promises Hell to the lost, it will happen. He is faithful. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
God is faithful to protect us. Paul asks the brethren to pray, “that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3). God stands with us during times of difficulty. Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God is faithful even when we do wrong. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). “If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
Our faith in God comes from this understanding of God’s character. “By faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11).
So, how does a follower of Jesus display the fruit of the Spirit which is faithfulness?
At work, when you agree to job duties, carry them out to the best of your ability. “With goodwill render service, as to the Lord and not to men” (Ephesians 6:5-7). People will make judgments about your commitment to God based on your commitments to people.
In the church family, when you make a promise, keep it. “Let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes,’ or ‘No, no’ (Matthew 5:37). When you agree to lead singing or lead prayer, be faithful to show up and do it. If a complication arises, give the deacon responsible as much time as possible to arrange a replacement. If you agree to teach class, show up every time, on time, and devote time and energy to preparation.
In your marriage, stay true to your spouse. Don’t just avoid immorality, but “nourish and cherish” (Ephesians 5:29) your spouse. Save for your spouse the best of your time and attention. Be devoted to your children, above overtime, above leisure time, above hobbies and friends.
In your relationship with God, obey Him despite peer pressure. Speak in God’s name despite persecution.