Summary: Faithfulness is a quality we aspire to, yet there are serious road blocks on the way. How can we overcome those barriers to this essential quality of character?
Sermon for CATM – November 18, 2007 – The Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness
I went for a walk the other day in the crisp autumn air to clear my head and to prepare to work on today’s message.
Do you ever do that? Nobody else around you, or at least nobody there to judge your words or your thoughts…free to walk and think as you like and free to figure out what’s going on in your head.
What I noticed was how amazingly random my thoughts were. I would start here then jump over there and then to something that for the life of me just seemed totally disconnected.
I knew I was to start a series today on the fruit of the Spirit based on Galatians chapter 5. I knew I was going to speak on faithfulness.
When you study preaching, you’re taught that after you’ve prayed a lot, and read the passage and preferably read the book that the passage is in, to think about the problems with the Scripture you’re dealing with. That’s a good thing to do.
So I was thinking a lot about faithfulness and about the problems with that word.
The dictionary says that faithfulness can mean thoroughness in the performance of a duty – like a faithful worker. It means being true to your word or to your promise or your vows. It means being steady in allegiance or affection; being loyal, constant…a faithful friend. It means being reliable, trusted and believed.
As I was walking around my neighbourhood, I thought about times in my life where I had kind of spun out of control or had sinned or had just coasted without a lot of aim or purpose.
It struck me that those were times when I was either not committed to much or when my commitments didn’t mean what they should have meant to me.
And I thought also about people and family members that I know and love who are around my age and who have just never really put the pieces of their life together.
So they drift through life never really happy, never or not too often really terribly sad, never really following through with the plans they made or the dreams that they may still talk about but with less and less excitement.
And it struck me that there are at least two big problems with faithfulness and they are two sides of the same coin: Faithfulness is essential and faithfulness is [kind of] impossible. Stay with me.
Why is faithfulness essential? Simple. Without it, we won’t honour anything that matters in life. The opposite of faithfulness is, of course, unfaithfulness.
It is indulgence. It is doing what my heart wants, right now, without regard to commitments or to values.
Our society puts a lot of value on ‘following your heart’, and ‘let your heart lead you’.
You know, pretty and poetic-sounding words can emanate from the pit of hell, and ‘follow your heart’ is a good example of what I mean. Here’s what the Bible says: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” [Jer 17:9]
Why is faithfulness essential? A way of understanding faithfulness is “follow through”, and it is the foundation upon which trust is built. I remember years back when I was front line street youth worker and I spent a great deal of time in Evergreen’s drop in, working with youth.
Once in a while we’d be evaluated by our supervisors. Other staff would be told they were amazing working with youth, that they were energetic and spontaneous with the youth. I kept getting the same evaluation. “Matthew always shows up on time. He is always there.”.
And frankly I would sometimes be jealous of the other staff who seemed so much more well-spoken and seemed to have youth flock around them. Who got more sparkling evaluations. Then at some point I realized that there was value in always being present. Always being there.
Our own Pastor Jan is an amazing woman with a ministry to youth and to street women and to the rest of us that is second to none. If you know her you know what I mean. We are so blessed to have her here as our sister in Christ and as a pastor.
What’s Jan’s secret? She’s been asked that and she says: “I just show up”. Just show up. Do what you say your going to do. Follow through with that commitment you’ve made. Have the self-respect to honour your commitments. But there’s a problem still.
Here’s a familiar phrase: “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife to love her, honour her and cherish her and care for her in Sickness and In health til death do you part”?