This is the seventh of nine pieces of fruit in the series on the Fruit of the Spirit. For an overview see, By Their Fruit You Will Recognize Them.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
When examining goodness, it was noted that while each piece of fruit is associated with action in Scripture, it must not be overlooked that these acts originate from a heart full of the Spirit of God. Faithfulness is another example of how we must not hurry to action while neglecting to examine our heart. Although is it true that faith without works is dead, it could also be said that works not bolstered by a growing faith amount to aimless activity. Like riding a stationary bike, there can be plenty of motion and energy being exerted, but after a half hour of activity, you still find yourself in the same place.
My own journey with this piece of fruit has evolved over the years (this is just part of the value of using the fruit of the Spirit as a periodic reflective exercise). I tended to associate faithfulness with a commitment to living out my calling. Am I doing the things God has called me to do? Am I committed to developing my gifts? Certainly, these things are pieces of what it means to embody faithfulness. But I can put a great deal of time and effort into my calling, while my connection with God and his Spirit stagnates. I can find myself peddling rapidly on a stationary bike.
Part of the issue is that the word faithfulness denotes a type of commitment – a determination to see something to completion. “Have you stayed faithful to your exercise routine and commitment to healthy eating?” There is a commitment, a resolve in the will behind that line of questioning. Again, this may well be an aspect of faithfulness.
Yet the word use for this piece of fruit in the original Greek is simply the word faith, or belief. It is more a condition of the heart and mind that precedes sheer determination. “Do you believe that exercise and healthy eating will be beneficial to your quality of life?” Do you see the difference in that question? Even though the same general idea is being expressed, the latter question probes the mindset behind the activity. If the determination is not supported with belief, determination will soon fade.
Is it possible, as ironic as it may seem, that before we jump to the question of our faithfulness to our calling or to our spiritual growth, we need to step back and simply ask, “In what condition is my faith?” There are times when that deeper question seems more daunting than the surface question.
As it relates to faithfulness, both aspects working together – faith sustaining faithfulness, if you will – are essential. So how do you see faith, or faithfulness, developing in your spiritual life?
- Am I growing as a follower of Jesus?
- Which aspect is more challenging to you right now: Simple faith or the working out of that faith?
- Do think there is a difference between faith and faithfulness? Do they convey the same idea to you?