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Summary: This is the third in a series on the fruit of the Spirit. It examines faithfulness and gentleness.

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February 8, 2004 Galatians 5:22-23

“The Spirit-filled Life”

INTRODUCTION

An old couple was sitting by the fireside. He looked over at her, had a romantic thought, and said, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.” The wife’s hearing wasn’t very good, so she said, “What?” He repeated, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.”

[The wife took the cane that was beside her and hit him over the head with it. Then she said,] “After fifty years, I’m tired of you too,” - SOURCE: Adrian Rogers, Ten Secrets for a Successful Family (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1996), 115.

For the last two weeks, we have been talking about the fruit of the Spirit – those characteristics that are going to be produced in our lives as we give over control of our lives to the Holy Spirit. This morning, we come to parts #7 and #8 of the fruit of the Spirit. The old couple I just spoke of is a good example of #7 – faithfulness – and a poor example of #8 – gentleness. Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about both of these and what God expects from us in these areas.

1. Faithfulness is the confidence of the Spirit-filled life.

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. ... A few days after the tragedy, Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived. As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- "Semper Fi" the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." [Whatever the circumstances, even with tubes coming in and out of his broken body, he was determined to remain faithful.] - J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

I can’t give the historical reason why the Marine Corps chose that saying for it’s slogan, but I can tell you the practical reason for it. When a marine goes into battle, he needs to have the confidence that the guy with him is going to watch his back. He’s not going to fade out when things get tough. He’s got to know that the support from his home base is going to be there when he comes under fire, and that he’s not going to be left to fend for himself. The faithfulness of his comrades gives him confidence.

As faithful as marines are to be true to their promises and to support their comrades and their country, there is someone who is even more faithful. That is God himself.

(Deu 7:9 NIV) Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

(1 Cor 1:9 NIV) God...is faithful.

(1 Th 5:24 NIV) The one who calls you is faithful ...

God is faithful to do what He says.

(Psa 145:13 NIV) ... The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.

God is faithful to complete what He starts.

(Phil 1:6 NIV) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God is faithful to forgive when we sin.

(1 John 1:9 NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us...

God is going to do His part. He is going to fulfill all His promises, and that gives us confidence for living the Spirit-filled life every day. But what about you and me? What does God expect of us in the area of faithfulness?

God expects faithfulness from us in...

...marriage

The day before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough. We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her."

Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. "There’s no way they’re getting divorced," she shouted, "I’ll take care of this." She called Phoenix immediately, and said to her father. "You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. "Okay, honey. Your idea worked. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and they’re paying for their own flights."

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