Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness
Scripture: Matt 24:35 - 25:30
Text: 2 Tim. 4:7
We’ve just read a good deal of what God’s Word - the Bible - has to say about faithfulness. And we’ll look at that in just a moment. But first I want to answer the question as to WHY we remain faithful. And that comes from the text for this morning. Paul’s words, in that later years of his life and what he knew to be the final stages of his ministry.
I have fought the fight. I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me - the crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:7).
When we get to the final stages of our ministry - when we look back on the time the Lord has given us on this earth, if we want to be all that God wants us to be - if we want to have the joy and peace that Paul, despite all his struggles, and all the troubles he went through, had - we will want to be able to say, with Paul, that we have remained faithful. Why? Because it is in remaining faithful that we can look forward to the prize, the hope, which is a crown of righteousness, or right standing, with God. And we’re going to look at the earthly rewards of faithfulness in just a few minutes.
Now I just mentioned getting to the final stages of our ministry. I mentioned looking back on the time the Lord has given us. But really, for you and for me, TODAY we may be IN the final stages of our ministry. Because the Bible says no one knows the time or day, except the Father himself.
The critical time for faithfulness is:
1. When everything appears normal. The Bible says in chapter 24:37, “When the son of man returns.” In other words, the final days of our ministry - “it will be like it was in Noah’s day. ...the people were enjoying banquets and parties an weddings.” Everything normal.
So the critical time for faithfulness, is now, when everything appears normal. One day follows the next, gas prices are on the rise, presidential candidates are debating, school is starting and people are marrying and getting divorced, and going shopping and buying stuff, and bringing stuff back... Everything normal.
How are we going to know if the Spirit is developing in us, the fruit of faithfulness? We will know the Spirit is developing faithfulness in us, when we realize certain things are happening in our lives that are indicators, or attributes of faithfulness.
Attributes of the Faithful:
First of all, the fruit of the spirit of faithfulness is:
1. Protective. (24:43) The Bible says in verse 43 of chapter 24, that a homeowner would not permit his house to be broken into. In other words, he would be watching and protecting those things which have been given into his care. In verse 45 of that same chapter, the Bible says that the faithful, sensible servant can be given the responsibility of management. He will take care of, and protect, that which has been entrusted to him.
Secondly, if we want to know if the Spirit is developing faithfulness in us, we will want to examine whether or not we are good providers.
A faithful servant will be a:
2. Provider. We know that because the Bible says in that same verse - verse 45 of chapter 24, that the servant manages the other household servants and feeds them. So in managing what has been entrusted to him, the faithful servant provides for the needs of those in his care.
Thirdly, if we are to be considered faithful. If we want to know if the Spirit is developing within us, the fruit of faithfulness, we need to look to see if we are:
3. Genuine. Are we genuine? Or do we put on an act - are we not our true selves in front of certain people - or at church? You see, verse 51 of chapter 24 says that the unfaithful servant was assigned a place with the hypocrites.
Now churches, every church - every church on the face of this planet has, most likely, at one time or another, been accused of having hypocrites. Some churches are even accused of being FULL of hypocrites!!
Do you know what other places have hypocrites?
You see, hypocrites are everywhere! Church doesn’t have a corner on hypocrites. It just seems like it. And it makes a good excuse for people who don’t want to go. How many times have you heard someone say they’re not going to the baseball game because there will be hypocrites there?
And you see, Christians, if we’re going to be faithful and have the fruit of the spirit of faithfulness - we are to be radically different than all those other places. We’re to be genuine - honest - real.
A saloon keeper sold his old tavern to a local church. Enthusiastic church members tore out the bar, added some lights, gave the whole place a fresh coat of paint, and installed some pews.
Somehow a parrot which belonged to the saloon keeper was left behind. On Sunday morning the parrot was watching from the rafters. When the minister appeared, he squawked, “New proprietor!” When the worship band marched to the platform, the bird piped up, “New floor show!” But when the parrot looked out over the congregation, he screeched, “Same old crowd!”
We must not be something on Sunday, that we aren’t on Friday night. Amen?
The fourth attribute of faithfulness is being:
4. Prepared. The faithful servant will be prepared. The Bible tells us to be prepared in season and out, to give an answer for the faith that is within us. And if you look now in your Bible to the second story we read this morning, you will see in verse 4 of chapter 25 that the bridesmaids were wise enough to take along extra oil. They prepared for the future. They planned for the unexpected. A faithful servant will be prepared.
While the faithful servant is prepared, they are also:
5. Prudent. Look at verse 9. The Bible says, “the others (those who were prepared) replied, “We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.” Now there’s a huge lesson in there for us today. We live in a society, and in a day and age, where generally, people want others to take responsibility for their decisions. (repeat) We see that in the bridesmaids - they didn’t have any oil. They hadn’t taken their responsibility as bridesmaids and prepared properly for the anticipated arrival of the bridegroom. So they asked the other bridesmaids for what they had. And they were told “no.” In today’s language, they said, "Go get your own."
Doesn’t sound very Christian does it. They’re not sharing. But your lack of faithfulness - my lack of faithfulness, cannot be accommodated by anybody else. And if you and I continually provide for, or cover up, what is lacking in someone else, we will eventually, come up short ourselves. And we will end up losing the very best that God has for us. And not only will we lose it for ourselves, we will lose it for those for whom we’ve been covering up.
Let me say it this way. If we give up what God has given us. If we give up the oil we have been given. Oil in the Bible represents the Holy Spirit. And if we give up what the Holy Spirit has provided to us in guiding and directing us in the right way. If we give that up in order to accommodate those who have no oil - in other words, the world, then when the bridegroom comes, he will no longer recognize us as HIS BRIDE and the door will be shut and locked and we will hear the words, “I don’t know you.” When the shout is heard, "Behold, the bridegroom comes!" We’ll cry, "Lord, Lord!" And if we’ve given up the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives - the Bible in one place says, "quench" the Holy Spirit, we’ll hear saddest words in all of eternity, "I don’t recognize you. I don’t know you."
We have to be prudent in regard to the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Number 6: Productive. A faithful servant is
After the parable of the bridesmaids, there is the parable of three servants. All three servants were entrusted with a certain amount of money. And we see in verses 16 and 17 of the story that two of the servants invested their money and earned more. The other servant didn’t do anything with what he had been given. In fact, he hid it. And so the Bible says he was called “lazy.” So lazy in fact, he didn’t even put his money in a bank where it could at least draw interest. The other two servants were action-oriented. They took a risk, invested what they had, doubled their money and had something to show for what they had been given when the master returned. And as a result of their productivity, they received a reward.
In fact in all of the examples we looked at this morning, from the Bible, we learn that:
Those who remain faithful will receive a reward. (24:46)
The reward of faithfulness includes:
1. Increased trust. The Bible says in verse 47 of chapter 24 that the faithful and sensible servant who was put in charge of his masters household was, after proving himself faithful, put in charge of everything the master owned. So when we are faithful, our trustworthiness increases.
We also get to
2. Participate in God’s blessings. The bridesmaids went in with the bridegroom to the marriage feast. And you and I, when we are faithful, will receive blessing after blessing after blessing. Oh, it doesn’t mean we won’t have struggles, but in remaining faithful through those struggles, we will feast at the table spread for us from the Lord’s bountiful supply.
Another thing that comes from being faithful is:
3. Added responsibilities. Look very quickly at chapter 25, verse 23. The master says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.” Now notice this next sentence. “Let’s celebrate together!”
When we are faithful, we not only get added responsibilities we experience:
4. Deeper intimacy with the master. Wow! The boss is saying, “Let’s party!” And he’s saying, “I’ll join in! Let’s celebrate together!” Why? Because the servant was faithful. Oh how wonderful it will be to hear the words, “Come my child - let’s celebrate together.”
Finally, and most important. Faithful servants receive:
5. Eternal life. (25:46) We didn’t read it this morning, but jump over to the end of chapter 25. The Bible says, those who were unfaithful to their calling through the stories told in these chapters, were sent away to eternal punishment, “but the righteous” - those with right standing with God - due to their faithfulness - “go into eternal life.”
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these things no charges can be brought.
May all who come behind us, find us faithful.