Summary: This is the difference between the fruit of faithfulness, and the gift of faith.
We are continuing with the series on the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . FAITHFULNESS . . .” Today we are looking at the fruit of faithfulness. It is very close to the spiritual gift of faith. So to make sure there is no confusion between faith and faithfulness, we need to clarify the difference. Let’s talk first about faith, the spiritual gift of faith.
The spiritual gift of faith describes something that is within us. Faith as a spiritual gift is something that we are given. It is something that is inside us. It is something that we have. It’s closely related to faithfulness. They both come from the same basic Greek word. But we must not get them mixed up.
In the New Testament there is only one word that really deals with the concept of faith. It has very few words that are related to it. In the Old Testament there are four or five words that speak of faith, and being faithful. They all come from one basic Hebrew word that means to be verified. So our faithfulness verifies the faith that we have. If I say I have faith in God, but I don’t do anything to show my faith, then I am not showing myself faithful to what I believe. Because I have faith in God, I am going to be faithful to that relationship, in good times and in bad.
For instance, our marriage vows are a covenant. When we make our marriage vows, we covenant, not only to have faith in our partner, but to be faithful to our partner. We already have faith in our partner or else we wouldn’t be getting married. We covenant to be faithful to them. We covenant to support them. We covenant to a relationship, and we are promising to be faithful to that covenant.
This is the difference between the fruit of faithfulness, and the gift of faith. Faith as a gift is something that is within. Faith as a gift is something that matures. I have faith that God was with me in the past, that He is with me now, and I can use that foundation, as I walk by faith into the future.
Because I know God was with me in the past and present, I can have faith that God will be with me in the future. So I have an obligation to that faith. My obligation is tied up in the verb, faithful. I have to be faithful to God as He has been faithful to me. That is the distinction between the fruit of the Spirit, and the gift of the Spirit. One is something that we are given as a Gift of the Spirit. The other is something that we offer. The spiritual gift of faith speaks about a belief. It is about a belief that we have in someone or something. We all have strong beliefs in God. We develop that faith to its maturity. We use our present faith to build on the future. That is the gift of faith.
Now let’s talk about faithfulness. The Fruit of faithfulness as a fruit of the spirit, describes a characteristic of commitment. Faithfulness, as a fruit of the Spirit, is a verb. It is something that we must do. It is a state in which we must remain—like when we remain faithful to a cause. Faithful, the fruit of the Spirit, is what we remain to God. Because I have faith in something or someone, I remain faithful to that thing or person. So the spiritual gift of faith is a noun, it is something we have, and the fruit of the spirit, faithfulness, is a verb, it is something we do.
To be faithful is an action based on faith. You might be faithful to a cause, to a person, or to a thing. Many people believe in several different types of charities, for instance. They are faithful to their beliefs. They act on their faith by supporting that charity.
People who support the heart society, for example, have a belief that heart disease and heart attacks can be cured or at least helped. To prove that faith they are faithful to that cause.
So, by faith we believe in God. Because of our relationship to God, we remain faithful. Now that we know that there is difference between the spiritual gift of faith and the fruit of the spirit faithfulness we need to get a better understanding of the fruit of the spirit, faithfulness. This brings us to our passage today. 1 Corinthians 3. I am going to suggest to you today that there are five things included in this passage in 1 Corinthians that speak about faithfulness.
First, to be faithful is a maturing process. READ verses 1-2.