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June 27th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

The Fruit of Faithfulness

Dear Friend,

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…

The attributes that are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as fruit which the Holy Spirit seeks to bear in us as Christians are also attributes of God Himself.

Not all of God’s attributes are attributes that we can share. He is omnipresent in time and space. We will never be. He is all powerful over all of the created order. We will never be. These attributes are referred to as his incommunicable attributes. He

cannot communicate them to or share them with us. They are not a part of the image of God that human beings are meant to bear or display.

There are other attributes which He indeed wants to communicate to or share with us. These are referred to as His communicable attributes. These attributes we are to “put on” as we become more and more remade into His image; that is, as we reclaim the image of God that was marred and bent by the fall of man into sin and misery.

Each and every one of the Fruit of the Spirit is such an attribute. God is love. The Fruit of the Spirit is love.

In Himself, within the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is deep unfathomable joy. The Fruit of the Spirit is joy.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the “fruit” of the day, the fruit of faithfulness.

Faithfulness is in essence the marriage of word and deed. It is the commitment one has to one’s word and one’s promises. Speaking of human beings, faithfulness is the commitment to be what one is called to do and meant to be.

Our culture desperately needs us to shine the light of faithfulness and commitment. In this we only stand out as light in a dark place, we display something so central to the nature of God Himself.

Our faith and trust in God is a faith and trust that He will be true to His promises and commitments. He promised Abraham that Abraham’s name would become great, that he would be the father of many nations, and that the entire world would be blessed through him and his descendents. He promises us that as we believe and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior, that He will justify us and grant to us eternal life, and that He will commit Himself to us as His adopted children forever. Christian hope is rooted in God’s faithfulness.

God is able to be faithful in a way that we are not. Only God can guarantee that a promise will be fulfilled, because only God has power and authority over all things. As for us, we can make a promise, and intend to keep it. But who knows, tomorrow we may be struck by a falling meteor. We may have an accident and be severely injured. Our thyroid glands may go crazy and we may go crazy with them. We cannot control all the events of the universe so we cannot guarantee that anything we promise will come to pass. But by His power we can become true to our word and commitments as far as it is within our control to do so.

The faithfulness of God is closely tied to another attribute, an attribute God’s people of old as well as God’s people today rested in and depended upon, and that is His “hesed.” This Hebrew word is translated in different ways – as “steadfast love,” as “love,” as “covenant faithfulness,” as “lovingkindess.” YHWH’s “hesed” was and is the key as His covenant people to our understanding Him. He has made a covenant commitment which He cannot break, and He will relentlessly be faithful to His word and promise. It is the Lord’s “hesed” that gives us hope. It is His “hesed” that enables us to press on in dark times. It is His “hesed,” his unremitting covenant love that is the foundation of our faith.

So committed was the Lord God to His covenant promises to his people and to His creation that He sent His only begotten Son to bear our iniquity in our place so that we could know life free from curse and death. We were helpless, and helplessly lost, and helplessly unfaithful, and He acted in His faithfulness to rescue His people and reclaim His world.

We owe our lives to His covenant faithfulness.

And we are to be faithful. This is what the Spirit is working to bring about in us. What does this faithfulness look like?

First, we are to be obedient and loyal to God Himself and to His commandments. This is our first and foremost commitment.

Second, we are to be faithful to our brother and our neighbor, to our children and our spouses, to our fellow believers whom we are to love with that same love with which He has loved us. There is no love without faithfulness.

Third, we are to be faithful to the vows and promises we make, in marriage, in parenting, in business, in churches, and in friendships.

Nothing – NOT ONE THING – undermines our witness and credibility like unfaithfulness. Ask any person who has been shafted by a professing Christian in business and you will see the turn off and the rejection of all things Christian. When we fail to be true to our word and commitments we fail to bear the image of God. We make Him look bad.

When we are faithful, and are known to be people of our word, people who will hang in there through thick and thin, we shine forth the goodness and glory of God, and people are caused to glorify Him.

We live in a culture of three and out. We are trained to punt when relationships get hard, when we decide that we’re not being fulfilled, when something or someone else looks more interesting, when the new store opens and offers the same service for a dime less. In a faddish consumeristic culture faithfulness has taken it on the chin.

But we can be different. Because we rest in God’s faithfulness we have the hope – and the grit inspired by hope – to be faithful to our callings and commitments. We hang in there. We wait. We are patient. We love even when not loved back. We are faithful to our word even if major decisions and the very structure of our lives must be determined by this faithfulness.

With His steadfast love before our eyes, may we walk in His faithfulness all our days, and bear His image in a broken world, and be different, truly different because of it.

The Fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness.

Joel

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