Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

Let us now continue our examination of the manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit with “faithfulness,” as seen in Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

The word here translated as “faithfulness” is the Greek word pistis, the word used throughout the New Testament to refer to “faith,” and it is defined by Thayer’s as:

1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
1a) relating to God
1a1) the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ
1b) relating to Christ
1b1) a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God
1c) the religious beliefs of Christians
1d) belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence)
whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same
2) fidelity, faithfulness
2a) the character of one who can be relied on

Time would fail us if we attempted to examine each time this word is used in the New Testament; the word is constantly used in each respect as seen above and certainly the idea of “faithfulness” as a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit contains all of these definitions, involving faith in God and in Christ and in His promises to mankind through the Gospel and also as a personal characteristic of dependability.

We are fortunate that the idea of “faith” is defined for us in the New Testament itself, as seen in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.

This definition may be easier to understand when we look at the Greek words behind them. The word translated here as “assurance” is the Greek term hupostasis, translated also as “substance,” a word that in its literal form denotes the idea of “standing under” or “setting under.” Therefore, “faith” is the thing that “stands under,” or supports, our hope in Christ. The word here translated as “conviction” is the Greek term elegchos, and it refers to evidence, hence, conviction. Our “faith,” therefore, stands as our evidence regarding things we have not seen.

When we begin to think about this definition, we can see how it makes sense, for our faith is really the basis upon which we live. The human body is confined to the sense perceptions and the mental faculties; we only know with any certainty the things going on around us that we can see, taste, touch, smell, or hear, and the past impressions of what we have seen, tasted, touched, smelled, or heard. Even with these perceptions we can often be wrong, and our reliance on them is in itself a measure of faith. We have faith in our eyes that what we see is truly what is before us; that the vibrations we sense in hearing is truly what another says to us, and so forth. All of our actions in life are based in some measure on faith: we go to work with the faith that we shall be recompensed, and receive that money with the faith that it has value. We cooperate with others in faith, expecting that everyone will fulfill whatever commitments they have regarding us. Even the most “absolute” fields, such as mathematics and science, are really exercises in faith, trusting in the laws of logic and scientific observation to produce valid results.

Seeing that these things are true, it should come as no surprise to us that faith in Christ is a key ingredient in the life of a Christian, for it is upon the basis of that faith in Christ that we live and breathe. We have placed our trust in Jesus, believing that He truly did die for our sins yet was resurrected in power so many years ago. We trust that God exists and did truly exalt Him and that His promise to us is true, that by believing in Him and expressing an obedient faith we might have eternal life with Him in Heaven and be spared an eternity in hell. This faith is the foundation of our hope in Christ, for without this faith, how could we hope in Jesus? Why would we profess eternal life in Him if we did not have the security of faith in His love for us? How can we expect the resurrection in the future if we have no faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago? We can see, therefore, that without faith in God and Christ, we are nothing; should we be surprised, then, at the statement made in Hebrews 11:6?

And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

It is also not surprising, then, to read in Romans 1:17, a quotation from Habbakuk 2:4, that the truly righteous man shall live by faith:

For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.”

It will do a Christian well to dwell upon the “giants of faith” that may be found in the Bible. Hebrews 11 is full of examples of men and women who overcame amazing odds thanks only to their faith in God. Many left their homes, their old gods, and all of their possessions because of their faith in God, and none were disappointed. Many faced physical hardship and suffering for God, but considered it worthwhile. And above all, the Christian should marvel at Hebrews 11:39-40:

And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Elijah standing up to the priests of Baal; the constant torment of Jeremiah regarding the word of the Lord; Abraham willing to sacrifice his only son to God– all of these and countless others who had extraordinary faith in God received less than what we have been given without even asking– the immediate hope of Heaven by the salvation given to us through the blood of Jesus Christ! If all of these people in the Old Testament can have faith in God without having received the promise, why ought we not have even more faith in God than they, since the promise has been given to us? Do we not have more evidence of God’s love for us, and a stronger foundation for our hope of salvation?

We see, then, that if we truly are going to live a life pleasing to God, it is absolutely essential that we have faith in Him and in His promises. It also follows that if we are to be men and women of such great faith, we ought to be found faithful not only in matters pertaining to our Lord but also in our commitments and words to one another. As the Lord has said, “He who is faithful in much, much more shall be given him; but to the one who is faithful in little, even what he has shall be taken from him.” The blood of Jesus Christ has been shed for our sins, and if we believe in Him and display obedient faith He has promised us eternity with Him in Heaven. All that would be lacking is your faith in Him and His promises.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 1:20-21).

ELDV

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