Summary: How to develop faithfulness in the body of Christ
As we’ve done each week, we’ll begin with a quick review of several important characteristics of the…
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
1) Is demonstrated by being not doing
2) Is developed as Christ followers cooperate with the Holy Spirit
3) Is to be delightful to an unbelieving world
The way we do that as a body is reflected in two aspects of our life together in the body:
• The way we treat each other
• Our corporate worship
Today we’ll be focusing on kindness as one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. This morning’s story from Home Town Tales is called “Dreamers All”.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS…FAITHFULNESS
Once again, we’ll begin this morning by defining the term “faithfulness”. The word that Paul uses to describe this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is “pistis”. It literally means:
“firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing”
The word “pistis” is used over 240 times in the New Testament and in most places it is translated “faith” rather than “faithfulness”. In fact, the KJV uses the word “faith” rather than faithfulness’ in Galatians 5 where Paul lists the nine aspects of the fruit of the Sprit. So which is correct? Is it faith or faithfulness that Paul has in mind here? Let’s look at some other passages that use the same Greek word and see if we can’t get a better handle on that.
The first passage we’ll look at is the definition of faith by the writer of Hebrews:
Now faith [pistis] is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
In that same chapter, the writer of Hebrews gives us several examples of faith that provide some further insight into its meaning. Let’s look at just one of those:
By faith [pistis] Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith [pistis] he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrew 11:8-10 (ESV)
This passage very clearly shows that there are two aspects of faith that cannot be separated. First there is the idea of belief, trust and loyalty – which in English we would describe as faith. But there is also the idea of being reliable and trustworthy toward God which is evidenced by Abraham’s obedience – which we would describe as faithfulness. So what we find there is that these two aspects of pistis are really inseparable.
Let’s look at one more passage that will help us confirm that connection:
What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness [pistis] of God? By no means!
Romans 3:3, 4 (ESV)
Here the word pistis is translated faithfulness when it is applied to God. Obviously that is the most accurate translation since God is certainly faithful, but He would obviously not have the need to exercise faith since He would never need to have belief and trust in anyone or anything else.
When we put all this together, we see that it just isn’t possible to separate our faith from our faithfulness. So this morning, as we examine this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, it will be important for us to keep both our faith and faithfulness in view.
With that background, we are now ready to develop some practical principles regarding how to develop faith/faithfulness in our body.
• Developing faithfulness in the way we treat each other
1) Develop our trust in God through His Word
We’ve all heard the term “blind faith”, but when it comes to our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, our faith is far from blind. Although, as we saw in Hebrews 11, faith requires us to have conviction about things that are unseen, we have much evidence to show us that those unseen things are indeed real and true.
It is much like the wind. Although we can’t see the wind, we can observe evidence around us that gives testimony to the reality of the wind. We can feel it on our skin. We can see the movement of the trees or the unfurled flag on the flagpole or the spinning blades on the windmill.
The same is true with our faith. We can’t see God. But we can observe the evidence that He is real all around us. In Romans 1, Paul describes how His creation reveals God to us, for instance. But the primary means by which God reveals Himself to us is through His Word.