Summary: As we are filled with His Spirit, others will find in us a reliability, a trustworthiness, a staying power, a faithfulness that the world doesn’t understand.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. In his letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, vs. 22, the Apostle Paul writes, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control." And this morning we’re going to focus on "faithfulness."
ILL. Almost exactly two years ago the headline of a major supermarket tabloid proclaimed, "And they said it wouldn’t last!" The paper was celebrating the first wedding anniversary of a very well-known couple whose marriage many had predicted wouldn’t last. The tabloid was gleefully proclaiming that the predictions were all wrong, & that the marriage was healthy & strong.
Who were they talking about? Who was this famous couple? It was Michael Jackson & Lisa Marie Presley, whose marriage ended soon afterwards.
Now not only was the tabloid absolutely wrong about the state of their marriage, but it also revealed the weakness of modern society in suggesting that if a marriage lasts one year, it has really lasted.
ILL. Hallmark has a card that fits the mood of our time by saying, "I can’t promise you forever, but I can promise you today." That’s about as deep a commitment as some are willing to make.
B. But in contrast to that, God exhibits & honors faithfulness. Psalm 100:5 says, "The Lord is good & His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."
Every time you see a rainbow, remember that God is faithful - He keeps His promises. Every time you pick up a Bible, remember that He said, "Heaven & earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" [Matthew 24:35].
Every time you gather to worship with brothers & sisters in Christ, remember that He said, "Where 2 or 3 come together in my name, there am I with them" [Matthew 18:20].
Every time you partake of communion, every time someone answers the invitation, remember that He said, "I will be with you always, even to the end of the world."
And when you stand on the brink of death, remember His promise, "In my Father’s house are many rooms...I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go & prepare a place for you, I will come back & take you to be with me. For where I am, there you will be also" [Matthew 14:2-4].
ILL. The songwriter is right:
"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father...
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me."
Oh, I wish could do justice to singing that! But even though I can’t, I can still proclaim that our God is a faithful God, that "His faithfulness continues through all generations."
APPL. And if we allow His Spirit to work within us, then the fruit of faithfulness will be real & evident in our lives, too. The more we yield to His guidance, the less fickle, the less vulnerable to discouragement & temptation we’ll become.
And as we are filled with His Spirit, others will find in us a reliability, a trustworthiness, a staying power through both good & bad, a faithfulness that the world doesn’t understand.
I. A DEFINITION OF FAITHFULNESS
A. To begin with, let’s define "faithfulness" & make sure that we’re talking about the same thing.
If you were going to define faithfulness, as Paul uses it in the N.T., how would you do it? Well, if you looked in the dictionary, you would find a technical definition that says, "To follow through with a commitment regardless of difficulty." That’s a good definition.
But let me give you one that may be easier to remember, "Faithfulness is love hanging on." It is love saying, "I will not quit. There may be misunderstandings, there may be disappointments, there may be discouragements, but I will not quit." It is love hanging on.
ILL. If a husband says, "I really love my wife," & then he goes out & has an affair, you may call him a liar. You may call him a cheat. But most of all, you will say, "He is unfaithful." Because that is what he has been. And no matter how strong his arguments may be, no matter how loudly he proclaims his love for his wife, you will not believe him because his unfaithfulness negates his proclamation of love.
ILL. And if someone says, "I really love the Lord," or "I really love the church," & then is unfaithful, then it’s hard to believe that he really does love the Lord. Because, you see, faithfulness & love always go hand in hand. Faithfulness is love hanging on.
You may get discouraged. You may be disappointed. But faithfulness says, "Even though there is discouragement & disappointment, I will not let go, I will not quit. I will keep on attending & giving & serving, because God has called me to be faithful."