Read: Galatians 5:19-23
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
Faithfulness is an essential fruit of the Spirit. It has to do with our integrity. Faithfulness is staying true to our best understanding of God’s will and word. That may sound easy; it’s not. When Paul found Peter hypocritically eating exclusively with Jews (Galatians 2:11-21) – and not including gentiles (Old Testament laws) Paul challenged Peter face-to-face. It took courage for Paul to confront Peter, even though the issue was supposedly settled (that was Peter’s hypocrisy). Paul practiced faithfulness; Peter failed the test on that occasion.
“Keeping the faith” is the heart of faithfulness, but it is not always easy. Faithfulness is not the popular path; often in the Bible faithfulness brings adversity. We see that pattern repeated in the lives of the Old Testament prophets. They were heroes of the faith, staying true to God’s will and word to the best of their understanding. Yet many of the prophets were killed because their faithfulness challenged the policies and practices of the nation’s king and the “powers that be”.
We live in an age where the “prosperity gospel” is widely taught: Be faithful and God will bless you with abundance and prosperity, that’s the message. But that was not Jesus’ message. In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Our faithfulness is important, not for our prosperity, but for our integrity, and for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.
Pastor Rob Nystrom