Fruits of the Spirit: Faithfulness
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
As with so many of the characteristics listed as fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, faithfulness is first and foremost a key characteristic of God, an idea which is repeated over and over again through the Bible.
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5
Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
The Bible is full of praise to God for his great faithfulness, often closely coupled with his ‘steadfast love’. God’s faithfulness to us means that he is unchangeably committed to us. Because he is faithful, he is utterly trustworthy, completely dependable and we can lean on his faithfulness knowing that it will never let us down and he will never let us fall.
Faithfulness is an intrinsic part of God’s character: it is part of who is he. It is God’s faithfulness which means that his promises always stand and his word can be utterly relied on.
The way in which God demonstrated his faithfulness most powerfully was sending his Son to be born as a human baby, to suffer and die for us, and to rise again. God was faithful to his promises to save the world and to make the way possible for every one of us to live in harmony and love with him.
It’s not surprising then that when his Holy Spirit lives in us, he will produce the same characteristic in us: we are called to be faithful. Our first calling is to be faithful to God. Just as we have been blessed immeasurably by his faithfulness to us, our response should be a growing loyalty to him – and dependency on him.
To be faithful to God is to serve him first above other things, to put the values of his kingdom first in our lives, and to be whole-hearted in his service.
None of this is the result of our own efforts, but by meditating on God’s faithfulness to us and by walking day by day in step with the Spirit. When we do this, it turns out that we will also be more reliable for others – our friends, families and communities.
Reflecting the characteristic of our Father in heaven will mean that those around us know they can trust us – we mean what we say, we do what we say we’ll do, and we can be depended on to be consistent in the way we treat people, and in all that we say and do. Faithfulness turns out to have a lot to do with integrity, treating others with a consistency of love that reflects the constant love of our Father.
Step by step...
1. I’m going to try and meditate more on the wonder of God’s ‘great faithfulness’. I want to try and thank him for it every time I come to him in prayer, reminding myself that it is precisely because of his faithfulness that every time I come to him I know he will hear and answer my prayers.
2. I’m going to ask him to give me strength to be faithful to him, to follow him more closely, and live a life of more consistent commitment to him as my Lord and Saviour.
3. Finally, I’m going to pray for help to grow in this family characteristic. In practice my friends should find me more reliable: keeping my word, being on time, keeping in touch... I definitely need his help in this!
Where I live I often hear the chimes of a bell as it rings out the hours. This reminds me of the unceasing passage of time, the hours coming round predictably, reliably and always on cue. They also remind me of God’s love and faithfulness – every bit as dependable as the turning of the hours. I’m going to let those bells remind me of that every time I hear them, and praise God for his faithful love.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Psalm 89:2
Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.