• The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19).
  • Friday, 15 March 2013


    We all identify with the concept of making New Year Resolutions. Whether it is to lose weight, get more exercise, read the Scriptures more regularly, prioritise more time to our partner, complete a home renovation job, or finish that sewing we stuffed in a cupboard ages ago. Lots of us make New Year Resolutions. But nearly always we end up breaking the resolve, and we realize afresh that by nature we are not good at following through with intentions. We find it hard to be consistent, and we are easily distracted from pursuing our goals.
    God never needs to make such resolutions. God is completely faithful. Where we have set our resolve to get something accomplished, often falling by the wayside when our task is half-finished, God seamlessly and effortlessly does everything he sets out to accomplish. God’s will is his resolve. What he wants IS.

    • Has always been known as a God of faithfulness. (Deut. 7:9; Hebrews 10:23; Psalm 36:5; Psalm 100:5; 119:90). All of God’s creation depends on his faithfulness. Animals and birds migrate and begin their breeding seasons at certain times because nature’s laws are firm. Plants send out new shoots in expectation of warmer weather. Only human-kind has a hard time knowing whether or not to exercise faith in God.
    • He is faithful toward his children:
    - He does not to allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor 10:13)
    - To protect us from the evil one (2 Thess 3:3)
    - To complete his work of salvation in us (1 Thess 5:23-24)
    - Faithful, because he loves us unconditionally.
    Was faithful in fulfilling his role as the Son of God
    - Just as Moses was faithful as a servant (Hebrews 3:1-2)

    - Jesus was faithful in carrying out the work given to him (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:29)

    - Jesus was faithful unto death. (Phil 2:5-11) This faithfulness of Jesus has inspired the faithfulness of others down through the ages, those martyrs of the faith etc.

    He is also faithful in the role of our high priest (Hebrews 2:17-18)
    - Faithful, because he understands our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-15)

    - Faithful, because he richly supplies us with grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:16)

    God’s Spirit is actively and always working in us to transform us, showing us how much better it is when we do what God would do and say what God would say. Practising this over time, we develop characteristics which are like those of God. This is not because we should do this, or must, but because we choose to, we prefer to, for it is in our character to do so. Faithfulness is one of those traits. Faithfulness (Psalm 119:89-90; Matthew 17:19; 25:21; Romans 1: 17; 5:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 11:1; 1 Thess 5:24) is the‘gluing’ fruit that will preserve our faith and the other characteristics of the Spirit. It is the one fruit that we give to God, whereas the others are from the Spirit working in us. Faithfulness comes about by living consistently in love. The more we are shaped by God, the more faithful we are enabled to become. Faith becomes faithfulness as we let God define what we believe.
    We cannot be faithful to God and do what we please. Faithfulness can change us inside and out. Faithfulness goes against society’s thinking, where it is all about me and my wants, as it requires us to move beyond ourselves. God wants our faithfulness, our obedience, so he can use us more and better. Proverbs 3:3-4:- “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

    Joyce Meyer once said that the fruit of the Spirit can be imagined like books on a shelf, with a strong bookend at each end. The beginning fruit, love, is one bookend, and the fruit of self-control is the other bookend. Faithfulness sits along with joy, peace, patience, kindness etc, in between the two bookends, love and self-control. To grow in faithfulness, we definitely need to access both of those bookends. We need love – love of God, love of self and love of others.

    Yet we also need self-control. Perhaps this fruit, more than some of the others, relies on and cannot develop without self-control. We don’t grow in faithfulness as a matter of course, by the mere passage of time and no effort.

    So how could we define faithfulness - the 7th quality of the fruit of the Spirit?
    The Greek word is ‘pistos’, and is often used in the NT as a conviction or belief which describes God or Christ. The Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament (Louw and Nida) defines it as: “the state of being someone in whom complete confidence can be placed – trustworthiness, dependability, faithfulness.”
    Faithfulness is a staying powerwhich enables us to endure through good and bad times regardless of its difficulty. Mother Teresa of Calcutta remained faithful to God and to her calling in the slums of India even though she had no experience or sense of the presence of God being with her for the last 50 years of her life, apart from one week when she experienced a sense of love and great intimacy with God. This one week occurred about 30 years into this 50 year dryness. Yet what she had previously proved about God’s faithfulness carried her through this dark night of the soul.

    George Muller was faithful in prayer. He began praying for 5 friends. He prayed for 5 years before the first one acknowledged Christ: for the next one he prayed 10 years; the third one 25 years; the fourth one nearly 50 years; and the fifth one was converted at George Muller’s funeral, 52 years later.

    A faithful person lives in a way which honors God. We begin in small ways to live faithfully “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much”(Luke 16:10ff). We need to start small, and show our faithfulness in the menial tasks of life. Then we are in a position to be entrusted with something bigger. We need to be faithful with what we have now, right at this point in our lives, so that we can be trusted to be faithful down the track. As we grow more faithful in one area of our lives, that characteristic will begin to flow over into other areas. Faithful people consistently do their best, are conscientious without being driven.

    Faithful people are true to their real beings and purposes. As we realize that we are all made in the image of God, and that God’s holiness was imparted to us, we begin to understand that we are dearly loved, forgiven and accepted by God. Who we REALLY are, is a beloved child of God. In holding ourselves as Beloved of God, and others as also the Beloved of God, we naturally reach out to ourselves and others in compassion and concern. I personally do not believe in original sin; I believe, as Richard Rohr says, in original blessing. When God created us, we were perfect, innocent, pure. Just look at any newborn baby and it seems very clear to me.

    Faithfulness towards ourselvesis vital. It is living with ourselves in harmony with whom we are, who we really are deep down at our core. All of us have learnt from our infancy to wear a protective coat or armor in order to protect our inner, true selves. To dismantle this false self takes courage and self-awareness, yet it is that true inner self, the personality we were born with, which Jesus died to save. This true inner self is the person God designed us to be, and when we live from this true centre we find it possible to live with inner and outer congruency. In order to live this way means a continual and progressive peeling back of the layers of the false self– all of those ways we behave to get approval or attention or love or security. We offer our true selves to God and others – no pretending or hiding.

    When is this kind of faithfulness a bad/unsafe way to live? To remain faithful to a toxic relationship or an abusive one or one where we are not enabled to grow or live true to ourselves is not the faithfulness of the Scripture. Faithfulness is not co-dependency either. All of these relationships display a kind of pseudo-faithfulness. We need to discern from God when to remain and when to leave in these sorts of situations, open and obedient to the Spirit. In many if not most cases leaving an unhealthy relationship requires more trust and more effort than remaining.

    We also need to realize that some people could be overwhelmed or hurt if we said everything we thought! Likewise, if we are truly open and vulnerable, some others could ‘trample’ upon us and we could be hurt or abused. So we need to know our true selves – the work often which is done in the second half of life – and then use great wisdom in how and when to allow our true selves to shine, and when to protect ourselves or others. However it is really important to become true, honest and vulnerable with God. God is completely faithful and with God we can pour our true feelings out at any time. God died for that true self within and wants us to communicate with him at this deep level of intimacy.

    When we are faithful to ourselves, what we say perfectly reflects what we think, feel and desire. I read a quote on Facebook this week: ‘’Happiness is when all I think, all I do and all I say are in complete harmony’’. What we do beautifully displays our nature and inner resolve. There is a seamless blending of the inner and outer lives. So what we say or think is consistently the way we are. There is complete congruency, authenticity, transparency. By faithfulness we are collected and wound up into unity within ourselves.” - Saint Augustine.

    The Gospel of Matthew depicts a beautiful picture of Jesus as such a person. In Matthew the Gospel is broken up into five discourses, or teachings, of Jesus, each one of which is followed then with a practical outworking of that teaching. Jesus’ behaviour reflects what he has just taught about. Then there is another teaching, another message, followed up with more practical behaviour. In this way Matthew depicts Jesus as the perfect teacher – one who practices everything he preaches. (By the way, many mental health problems begin when we live in a way which does not reflect who we are – we grow out of balance and get sick).

    We have looked at the faithfulness of God, and of our responsibility to be faithful to our true selves. We now look at how we can show faithfulness to others.

    Thayer describes faithful people as having “the character of one who can be relied on...’’

    We get home when we say we will (or ring with a good and honest reason). We remember to pick up the milk and eggs on the way home like we said we would. We make every effort to be punctual. We use diaries or lists to help us remember important details in the lives of others – birthdays, dates folk are going in for surgery, anniversaries, etc. We are reliable. We are completely dependable. All of this requires self-control, as well as love.

    Vine describes faithful as “to be trusted”. Jesus said it “Let your Yes be Yes and your No, be No’’. So we need to say what we mean and mean what we say. This helps others to find us believable. When we speak, whatever we say can be trusted, depended on. When we make a friend, we stay true to them. We keep confidences and never gossip. Our word is our honour. We don’t shirk responsibility or pass the buck or pretend we’ve forgotten when we know we haven’t. When we begin something we follow it through to the end. This gives us authenticity. To do this we need to have a clear understanding of our own boundaries and limitations.

    Faithful people are loyal. My husband David has faithfully followed his football team, Melbourne, since he was a little boy. Despite a few years of delight in the 50’s and early 60’s, Melbourne has been pretty much in the doldrums for decades now. Yet David is loyal. Every year he has fresh hope, expectation that his team will improve. He knows a lot about the players and coaches and can recall facts from decades ago with ease. Are we loyal to God like that? Are we loyal to our families and friends? We will look for the best in them and always hope that even if things are bad now, they may improve. We will offer unconditional acceptance. Loyalty also implies we will stand up and defend if needed. We will go in to bat for our family, our friends, the needy and marginalized, the sick and the poor.

    A faithful person provides a safe haven for others. Dinah Maria Mulock said, “Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, and knowing that a faithful hand will come and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

    When we lack faithfulness, how can we identify it? (We begin to make excuses for ourselves and our behaviour. We will become doubtful, distrusting and possibly angry with ourselves, others or God or a combination of these three).

    How do we remain faithful over the long haul of life?

    1. We need to recognize that trials will come – in our work situations, in our families, in our church community, in society; in our relationship with God.
    2. We need to develop regular, positive, life-giving spiritual habits or disciplines which will sustain us through the hard times.
    3. We need to get back up – a network of other Christians who will support, encourage and empower us to keep going and to get up each time we fall or are knocked down. Our Wednesday Koinonia has an important part to play. Build networks of reliable, honest, faithful people who will be there for us in good times and bad.

    William Barclay says, “Pistos (the Greek word for faithfulness) is indeed a great word. It describes the man on whose faithful service we may rely, on whose loyalty we may depend, whose word we can unreservedly accept...It describes the man in whom there is the unswerving and inflexible fidelity of Jesus Christ, and the utter dependability of God.”

    How can you become more congruent between your inner and outer worlds?

    What makes it hard to be faithful?

    When have you clearly experienced yourself as a faithful person?

    What issue, relationship or role in your life would improve with more faithfulness?

    What aspect of faithfulness is hardest for you at this stage of your journey?

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