Summary: The Holy Spirit produces faithfulness in us, and while this is not highly valued in our culture, it is worth it!
Faithfulness and Goodness: Fruits of the Spirit
Gal 5:13-26 November 14, 2004
We are not always aware that we live in a Spiritual world as well as a physical one. Sometimes we all get immersed in life, in the groceries and laundry and meals, the soccer games and piano lessons and doctors appointments, the commitments and demands and goals, and it is easy for us to miss the reality that, though unseen, we live also in a world where God is real and active and around us, where there is a spiritual conflict, and where the Holy Spirit is active and powerful and desiring to bring about the will of God in our lives. But that is the truth, we know it deep down, we know it powerfully and tangibly at certain moments of our lives, and we recognize it even in the daily ups and downs of life.
And so the Apostle Paul says to us, in Gal 5:16-26, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
The Spirit within:
“The fruit of the Spirit” – what Paul means by that is that as God’s Spirit lives within us, and as we choose to allow God to work in us, God produces character qualities like the ones I just read. We have been looking at each of these in turn over the last little while, and continue today focusing on two of those fruits. Let me emphasize again: these are God’s works in us. They are what God does, what God creates, what God produces – they are not characteristics that we work on, that we create, that we somehow produce within ourselves. These are the work of God, the grace of God, the creation of God within us as we “live by the Spirit”, to borrow Paul’s phrase. Today let’s consider the fruit of faithfulness.
Faithfulness seems to me another quality not highly regarded by our culture today – that seems to be a theme as we’ve walked through Paul’s list! Today, if something isn’t working you don’t stick it out, you dump it and move on to the next thing. If one job isn’t the greatest, quit and find something else. If a relationship, even a marriage, isn’t meeting all your dreams and desires, get out and find something that “makes you happy”. If something breaks, most of the time it isn’t worth it to fix, we just chuck it and buy a new one. Commitment seems temporary, seems to last only as long as “it’s working for me.” When things get difficult, our world tells us to cut and run.
It is different when we live by the Spirit. When we live by the Spirit, one of the things He produces within us is the fruit of faithfulness.
Faithfulness means keeping our word, doing what we said we would do.
Faithfulness means sticking with someone or something through the difficulties.
Faithfulness means remaining in a relationship through the seasons where you give more than you get, where you sacrifice, where you set aside your needs for the needs of others.
Faithfulness means staying with your church through challenging times, keeping encouraging your team even when they are losing, sticking by a friend when they make yet another poor decision.
Our world needs more of that kind of faithfulness, don’t you agree? In a world where every thing seems tentative, uncertain, temporary, I think we each need people around us who exhibit the fruit of faithfulness. People we can trust, we are safe with, and we know will stand by us through all the seasons of life.
When I think of faithfulness, I think of the humble apple. Apples are always around – all the other fruits may be out of season, but the grocery store always seems to have apples around, and almost always at a good price. They are just always there. Sometimes, they are there and we don’t even really notice: here is a strawberry fruit leather – first ingredient, apples. Here is raspberry juice – first ingredient, apples. Here is…