FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 20
FAITHFULNESS – BELIEVING GOD AND TRUSTING GOD AND HIS WORD
John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory, (Crossway Publishers, 1998) notes:
“Though God’s ways of expressing his faithfulness are sometimes unexpected and bewildering, looking indeed to the casual observer and in the short term more like unfaithfulness, the final testimony of those who walk with God through life’s ups and downs is that “every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
What does Scripture say?
And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”
Joshua 23:14-16. What is the definition of faithfulness? “… not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you.” Seems to me that this is a pretty good definition!
So, what does God’s faithfulness mean to His people?
God’s faithfulness is the attribute where He is ever mindful of His covenant and fulfills all the promises which He has made to His people. This faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God. This faithfulness is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing.
It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, it gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and it fills their hearts with joyful anticipations, even when they are deeply conscious of the fact that they should have forfeited all the blessings of God because of their own wayward actions.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9
The saying is trustworthy, for … if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
II Timothy 2:11-13
How does this apply to my daily life?
Our response to God’s faithfulness is, obviously, faithfulness to God. This is the fruit that the Holy Spirit wants to grow within us as we grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord. He gives us the ability to remain faithful as we seek His strength and lean on our Lord.
Jesus said that we were to be faithful to him in our obedience and allegiance to Him when he said:
“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7.
In Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards quotes this verse and notes that Paul is showing that charity includes a suffering spirit so that it “bears all things;” and that we do this by encouraging the two graces of faith and hope.
Indeed, Edwards states that the fruit of faith through agape love “cannot be conquered by all the opposition the world brings against it, for faith overcomes the world” and also he notes that faith and hope in God enables the Christian to triumph in Christ Jesus.”
Faithfulness in interpersonal relationships is evidenced when, the Holy Spirit gives us the disposition to trust others. We give others the benefit of the doubt and we, ourselves, are trustworthy. We are faithful to our vows, to our commitments and to our world.
An example of faithfulness that is given to us in Scripture is marriage:
Marriage has a unique place because it speaks of an absolute faithfulness, a covenant between radically different persons, male and female; and so it echoes the absolute covenant of God with his chosen, a covenant between radically different partners.
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
In other words, our marriages, our family life, our relationships with those in our intimate circle should reflect the faithfulness and love that characterizes God’s relationship with His people. When people see us in the restaurant, at the mall, in the movies or by the hospital or nursing home bedside – do they see a faithfulness in all circumstances? Is our marriage a witness of our relationship with Jesus? Are you utterly reliable in the little things that no one will notice as well as the big ones that are out in front of others?
Let us pray that the Lord would increase our faithfulness and that we would be able, at the end of the day, to lay our head down and hear His voice say:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master”.
Being called “Old Faithful” is a goal worth achieving in the Lord’s Kingdom!
Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.