Fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness
Faithfulness. Maintaining faith or allegiance; showing a strong sense of duty or conscientiousness. In biblical Hebrew, “faith” and “faithfulness” are grammatically related. Although both concepts are important in the OT, there is no English word exactly equivalent to the Hebrew terms. The most relevant Hebrew verbal root (related to our word “amen”) carries such meanings as “strengthen,” “support,” or “hold up.” In a physical sense it is used of pillars that provide support for doors (2 Kgs 18:16). Moses used the word when he disclaimed any role as supporter of the Israelites (Nm 11:12). God, however, is an eternally firm support for his people (Dt 7:9; Is 49:7).
With that notion of firm support as the bedrock for faith, words such as “firmness,” “constancy,” or “trustworthiness” best convey the related concept of faithfulness. Trustworthiness, or steadfastness of character, is ascribed to the object of one’s trust. To be unfaithful is to be unworthy of confidence or belief. In the OT a synonym for “faithfulness” is “truth.” Since God is consistently true he is the logical object of human trust (Ps 71:22; Is 61:8). When used of God in the OT, the word “faithfulness” frequently refers to his unwavering commitment to his promises.
Commitment to a relationship with God or fellow human beings; seen in that loyalty, devotion and service which is a reflection of God’s own faithfulness. Scripture points to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ as an example for believers.
When Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, there were many people buried in the ruins. Some were found in cellars, as if they had gone there for security. Some were found in the upper rooms of buildings. But where was the Roman sentinel found? Standing at the city gate where he had been placed by the captain, with his hands still grasping his weapon. There, while the earth shook beneath him—there, while the floods of ashes and cinders covered him—he had stood at his post. And there, after a thousand years, was this faithful man still to be found.482
Faithful progress in the Christian life is a necessity. We should get “better” as time goes on. This is illustrated by what many consider to be the greatest horse race ever run. When Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby, each successive quarter-mile in the race was run faster than the one before. The longer the race went, the faster the horse ran.483
The story is told of an eleventh-century German king, King Henry III, who, having grown tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch, applied to a monastery to be accepted for a life of contemplation. The religious superior of the monastery, Prior Richard, is reported to have said, “Your Majesty, do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”
Henry replied, “I understand. The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”
“Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has placed you.”
When King Henry III died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.”
Like King Henry, we too often tire of our role and responsibility. Like King Henry, we too need to be reminded that God has placed each of us in a particular place to be faithful there. Be it as a plumber, accountant, mother, father, or whatever, God expects us to be faithful where he has placed us.484
Do you apply the same standards of faithfulness to your Christian activities that you expect from other areas of your life?
If your car starts once every three tries, is it reliable?
If your paperboy skips delivery every Monday and Thursday, is he trustworthy?
If you don’t go to work once or twice a month, are you a loyal employee?
If your refrigerator stops working for a day or two every now and then, do you say, “Oh, well, it works most of the time”?
If your water heater provides an icy-cold shower every now and then, is it dependable?
If you miss a couple of loan payments every year, does the bank say, “Ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?
If you fail to worship God one or two Sundays a month, would you expect to be called a faithful Christian?
We expect faithfulness and reliability from things and other people. Does not God expect the same from us? The problem is that in our religious activities we see ourselves as volunteers rather than as duty bound (1 Cor. 9). For a volunteer, almost anything seems acceptable. For a bondservant who is duty bound, faithfulness is expected (Matt. 25:21).485