An Exploration of Galatians: Fruit of the Spirit Part 8
Galatians 5:22-23 - Our faithfulness to others is a reflection of God’s faithfulness to His creation.
”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.“
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB1995
We have arrived at the seventh fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness. Faithfulness comes from Greek word πίστις or pistis, with the following Biblical usages:
conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
relating to God
the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ
relating to Christ
a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God
the religious beliefs of Christians
belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same
the character of one who can be relied on
In the context of this laundry list of fruit of the Spirit, this faithfulness is not only concerned with our convictions and belief in God and Jesus, it is our own personal reliability and fidelity between us and others. Here’s what Precept Austin has to say about this usage of the word pistis (links go to Precept Austin or Biblia):
In the present context pistis takes on a different meaning, instead referring to that virtue which makes a person one on whom others can rely (dependability). This fruit in man is predicated on the truth about God - His faithfulness. So when a believer manifests this trait in interpersonal relationships, he or she is becoming a "partaker of the divine nature" (2Pe 1:4-note), acting in godliness or "God-likeness". Even as a child exhibits family resemblances, loyalty, trustworthiness and fidelity in a believer presents to others an accurate (Spirit empowered) manifestation of the unseen God (cp Mt 5:16-note).
In a word this component of the fruit of the Spirit describes one's trustworthiness, loyalty, reliability, adherence, constancy, dependability, devotedness. Another synonym is the word fidelity (from Latin fides = faith, fidere = to trust) is strict, careful, continuing and exact observance of duty, or performance of obligations.
The person with this quality keeps his word, his promises, and his vows. This sense is conveyed in Titus 2 where Paul is speaking of believing slaves as "not pilfering, but showing all good faith (Titus 2:10KJV = fidelity) that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. (Titus 2:10-note)
Oh, happy day!! I have finally found a fruit of the Spirit that I have emulated my whole life! When describing faithfulness in this way, I can think back on performance reviews and other measures of my life and recall that I was always cited and rewarded for two main points of integrity: Honesty and reliability/dependability. I rarely ever missed a deadline (unless I was relying on someone else) and I was told during a polygraph for a work clearance that I was essentially incapable of telling a lie (this was both good and bad, as advanced classified programs ask for your discretion at all times, which may in unique circumstances require a lie). I was like the dog with the stick, always wanting to go grab it and bring it home.
I often did more than required for a task, knowing that I would probably be asked for the additional data or analysis anyway so I prepared it in advance. I remember a person that we worked with at one of the launch sites who always called me first to report a problem because he said that the other people in the group never answered their phones or returned his call. My Mom was the one who drilled this dependability into my character; she was a stickler for hard work and honesty (My Dad sometimes snuck away from work in his younger days to go fishing or check out an airplane). I rarely called in sick; in the later days of my career I actually would work at home if I wasn’t feeling well, unless it was a severe illness. I was a straight shooter with our customers (government) and because I worked technical problem management for most of my career, they liked the honesty and reliability of the answers I made. Sometimes the bosses secretly frowned at that honesty during a review.
This fidelity to work came with a cost, however. I was short-tempered, stressed out, usually annoyed and impatient with others for not holding up their part of a task, deeply ashamed if something did fall through the cracks, sometimes overworked and I wasn’t fond of multitasking, although I did it often enough. And the problem is that the fidelity was usually to a goal, not necessarily because I wanted to serve another person or even thought about my work as serving God. My honesty also made for difficult interpersonal relationships, as it was not tempered by patience and kindness.
When the Holy Spirit instills faithfulness in a believer, nothing is impossible. It changes your perspective on fulfilling a commitment, because that is now made to God, and He has always been faithful to you. I used to grumble under my breath when I got a new, complicated work task, wondering how much of my effort would be a waste of time, rather than taking it on and always working it for God. Now, I’m seeing these things in a whole new light. Steve and I started these devotionals almost two years ago. I have NEVER seen the task of doing a devotional as a burden, but as something to look forward to, regardless of how busy we are or how few readers we have. We have done them when we are traveling or when we are under the weather and I even kept up the pace I was in the hospital in 2023. I also keep up with the self-imposed tasks for my retiree group as their historian, keeping pace with current events and writing and researching about our company history.
God gave us this devotional task to help us both get much more out of Scripture than just re-reading a “Bible in One Year” plan. By using my analytical skills and assessing myself critically in light of God’s precepts and through the help of the Holy Spirit, I have come to a much different place than I was even a short few years ago. My character of honesty and dependability was a good baseline for at least this one fruit of the Spirit to find fertile soil!
My next devotional examines the fruit of the Spirit of gentleness.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Thank you for instilling my character with honesty and dependability and for guiding me into faithfulness through the Holy Spirit. Now I ask, in all seriousness, for a rapid increase in the other fruit of the Spirit in my soul! Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.
The Blue Letter Bible was accessed on 1/18/2024 to review the lexicon for faithfulness.
The personal testimony of Bruce Hurt, creator of Precept Austin, can be found Here.