SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 19, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In this edition, we shall focus on FAITHFULNESS as part of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. It is a very important virtue in Christianity for several reasons. But before we go so much into it, let us find out what the word means.
Faithfulness comes from the Greek word pistis πίστις (faith) and connotes fidelity in both words and actions. It means truthfulness and the ability to keep to one’s promises. A person who is able to keep promises or is able to take care of what has been entrusted into his care can be called a faithful person. It can be looked at from two angles, that is, the faithfulness of God and human faithfulness. The faithfulness of man can further be divided into faithfulness of God and faithfulness to our neighbors. When we talk of the faithfulness of God, we are talking of the nature of God which makes him keep all his promises to us and also performs everything he has purported to do. It is this faithfulness of God which makes him utterly dependable by mankind. Man can rely on God because he is faithful- whatever he says comes to pass and what he promises shall surely be performed.
The faithfulness of God is one of the main distinctions between God and man. God is completely faithful, but man is not. God is faithful because he has the power to do whatever he plans to do. He can never lie because he is faithful. In Numbers 23:19, we have a clear distinction between man and God based on his faithfulness.
“GOD IS NOT A MAN THAT HE SHOULD LIE; NOR A SON OF MAN THAT HE SHOULD CHANGE HIS MIND. DOES HE SPEAK AND THEN NOT ACT? DOES HE PROMISE AND NOT FULFILL?”
The answer is simply NO! This shows that God is faithful and therefore reliable, but man is not. Yet, Faithfulness as part of the Fruit of the Spirit is not about the faithfulness of God. I mentioned it to help us have a better understanding of what faithfulness is about.
The faithfulness of man refers to our steady allegiance to God and our trust in Him. A “faithful” man is “full of faith”; he believes in the reality of God as revealed in Scripture. He does not have doubts about what the Bible teaches about creation, God himself, Jesus Christ and many other issues as found in the Bible. Such a person does not hold part of the Bible as more inspired than others. A faithful person believes that Jesus is God’s only begotten son, sinless, and the one through whom we can be reconciled to the Father. The person who has faith in God and his son Jesus Christ believes that there is no other name by which a man could be saved except through God’s son, Jesus Christ. If you find any person who believes that there are many ways to enter the Kingdom of God, you should know that he is a faithless person. He is faithless because he does not believe in what God has done for the world through his son Jesus Christ. A faithful person also believes that he cannot be saved by his own works except through the work of Jesus Christ. Anyone who believes that our works cannot save us unless we believe in the works of God through his son Jesus Christ can be called a faithful follower of Christ.
Apart from faith in the works of God and his son Jesus Christ, a faithful person also relies on the promises of God. He believes that whatever the Lord has said will surely come to pass. Consequently, he has hope in both his present circumstances as well as the future because God is with him. Such a person does not fear the threats of the enemy because he believes God is always with him.
“EVEN THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME. YOUR ROD AND YOUR STAFF THEY COMFORT ME” Psalm 23:4.
He overcomes fear because he believes that he who is in him is greater than the one who is in the world. If anyone believes that the one who is in him (Jesus Christ) is greater than the one who is in the world, he shall not fear evil spirits and believe that evil spirits can have any control over his life.
“HE WILL NOT GO TO ANY MAN TO SEEK FOR PROTECTION AGAINST ENEMIES BECAUSE HE KNOWS THAT AS A CHILD OF GOD HE HAS BEEN GIVEN AUTHORITY TO TRAMPLE ON SNAKES AND SCORPIONS AND TO OVERCOME ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY AND NOTHING WILL HARM HIM” Luke 10:19.
He also fears no evil because he believes in God’s promise which says:
“NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST YOU WILL PREVAIL, AND YOU WILL REFUTE EVERY TONGUE THAT ACCUSES YOU. THIS IS THE HERITAGE OF THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD, AND THIS IS THEIR VINDICATION FROM ME DECLARES THE LORD!” Isaiah 54:17.
If a person has faith in God, he will claim these and the many other promises of God for his children found in scripture.
Faithfulness to God is very much demonstrated through our obedience to him. Anyone who is faithful to God takes what God has commanded in his word seriously and seeks to do as the Lord commands. He does not disobey God’s word at any point in time. It should be understood that God is faithful and expects us to be faithful to him . One way by which we show our faithfulness to God is by keeping his commands. In Deuteronomy 7:9-10 we find this:
“KNOW THEREFORE THAT THE LORD YOUR GOD IS GOD; HE IS THE FAITHFUL GOD, KEEPING HIS COVENANT OF LOVE TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. BUT THOSE WHO HATE HIM HE WILL REPAY TO THEIR FACE BY DESTRUCTION; HE WILL NOT BE SLOW TO REPAY TO THEIR FACE THOSE WHO HATE HIM.”
It is obvious that those who hate the faithful God are those who refuse to be faithful by not loving him and keeping his commandments. Therefore faithful servants of the Lord are not to gloss over anything the Lord has commanded us to do either in the New or the Old Testaments. We should obey the calling to make all people groups his disciples and teach them to obey all that he commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). If we do just as he has commanded us to do, we can be regarded as faithful servants of the Lord. Like the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, those who hold on to what the Lord has entrusted into their care will be told: “WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!” (Matthew 25:21). Failure to obey what the Lord has commanded us makes us unfaithful, unworthy and unreliable servants, and we may not have any place in his kingdom as we find in Matthew 25:26-31. Of course no one can obey anything God has commanded us by his strength; but we can always rely on the Holy Spirit to help us do what is right before the Lord. If we shall hold on to God and trust in him and also submit to him in total obedience, we shall be demonstrating faithfulness as part of the Fruit of the Spirit.
God is looking for faithful people in this generation. He is looking for those who trust in him and his son Jesus Christ and are willing to obey him in all things. He is looking for people who are willing to stand for him even in the midst of sin, pain and persecution. He is looking for people who can say “HERE I AM, SEND ME”, when everyone is silent. He is looking for people who will be faithful to present his word as he has commanded. He is looking for people who love him more than anything else in the world. He is looking for you and me.
Are we ready to be faithful servants of the Lord? We shall consider another aspect of human faithfulness in the next edition. Until then, it is my prayer that the Lord will grant us the grace to remain faithful to him just as he has always been faithful to us.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.