THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
- SEVENTH GRAPE OF THE CLUSTER
Faith — in God and People Is Sustained by the Faithfulness of the Heavenly Father
We have all heard or maybe we have even said it ourselves, “Who can you trust?” or “You just can't trust anyone anymore!” Can people be trusted? Can God be trusted? Trust and faith is what we are going to reflect on this time.
Faith is talked about often and discussed frequently in regard to the Christian‘s life. We use different words or phrases to describe a person‘s religious beliefs. Faith journey or spiritual pilgrimage are several of the phrases I hear today. Faith walk or spirituality is also used to describe one‘s Christian beliefs. What is so curious or interesting is that such uses of the word faith can describe more than just the followers of Christianity. Faith is even used in Christianity to describe a person from a different denominational, Protestant or Catholic background. It becomes apparent when people say that someone is from a different faith.
The seventh grape in the cluster group and fruit of God‘s Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is called faith or faithfulness. W. Phillip Keller says this in his book entitled A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, in Chapter 11, Faith and Faithfulness in Christians. “Faith is the work of God‘s Gracious Spirit within us and it can spring only from the fountain source of God‘s own generous love shed abroad in our lives. Having its‘ source in Him, it flows freely to us. It becomes active in our innermost being, then flows out in our self-giving back to Him and others.”
Christian faith is a personal commitment and trust—in the saving work of Christ‘s life, His loving, sacrificial death on the cross, His descent to hell for ones‘ sins, His resurrection, His ascension and His promised return. The beliefs of such a faith are the fruit of God‘s Spirit in us and is evidenced by faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the loving and sacrificial giving of oneself, time, abilities and materials treasures to others.
Faith in the Lord and the resulting deeds of love and obedience are the commitment and trust a person has in His everlasting and steadfast love. When we see the faithfulness and steadfast love of God in many different ways in our lives, it will cause us to grow and deepen our faith in Him. It will inspire, motivate and empower us to be an instrument and channel of His faithfulness, patience, loyalty and consistency to others.
“Active faith sees the possibilities and potential in people. Such faith puts the best construction on every situation and looks for the silver edge on every dark cloud. It searches for any hint of honor and dignity. It believes that with God, all things are possible. It pushes on, perseveres, remains loyal in spite of reverses and disappointments. Such faith is steadfast in spite of shaking experiences and has its gaze fastened upon Him who is faithful, not upon the chaos and confusion of circumstances around us. It is in the atmosphere of this confidence in Christ that the faithful person (a person full of faith) quietly carries on living in serenity, strength and stability. He/she is not shaken by the stormy events or unpredictable behavior of others around them. Gently, calmly, without fanfare they simply give and give and give themselves to God and others.” A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, p.158-159.
A Christian farmer was constantly jeered at and ridiculed by a non-Christian; because he would not work on Sunday, since he worshipped with God's people weekly, gave his tithes to the Lord's work, read his Bible daily, prayed diligently, etc. At the end of a poor harvest season the non-Christian said to him, “Where is your God? He has certainly failed you, hasn't he?” “Oh, no,” the Christian replied, “my God does not close His books at the end of the harvest season.”
Here is a person, who had faith in the steadfast love of the Lord and relied on His faithfulness. His trust in the Lord‘s faithfulness was not seasonal, was not easily swayed by the ridicule of others or difficult circumstances.
Oh, how we need to have this faith today. Such faith and faithfulness seems to be rare. When we lack faith during those times, when we doubt the faithfulness of God, we need to go to the Lord in prayer. We need to talk with Him and ask for the gracious work of His Spirit in the rocky, weedy and barren moments and places in the garden of our lives. Then we will know and experience the seventh grape in the fruit cluster of His Spirit.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
How faithful and wonderful is He in His mercies.
Pastor Perry DeGroot