What does it mean to be faithful to God?
I’m not talking about more of the financial, but more of what He has called us to. We are responsible for loving more, forgiving more, being more patient, being gentler, and the other fruits we have already discussed.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” Matthew 25:21
To be faithful to God is to follow His voice, listen to Him, and obey. Psalm 81 reminds us how straight-forward and simple God’s call on our lives really is.
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Psalm 81:13-16
When we are faithful, God is faithful to us. That is enough to grow in our faithfulness. But even more, when we are faithful with what we are given, God blesses us with more. In the parable of talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the master gives the servant charge over more of the master’s things. When we are faithful with the little He gives us, God will give us more to steward and to bless us in return.
“To the faithful You show Yourself faithful, to the blameless You show Yourself blameless.” Psalm 18:25
He simply wants us to listen to Him. He wants us to follow His commands over our lives. That’s it. And even more so, when we listen to Him; when we are faithful in the basics of listening and obeying God, He in turn responds with everything we need, and in abundance. That’s not to say we will be granted all our wildest dreams. When I listen to God, I’m not suddenly diving into a pool of gold like Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales, but I can pay my bills. When I listen to God, I see the other fruits growing in me.
"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied." Deuteronomy 11:13-15
There are many great verses that show just how impactful this fruit is for us in our relationship with God, but also how we can share God with others without saying a word. Elijah heard God in the gentle whisper. Jesus was gentle to those who came to Him, and we must be the same. As King Solomon confirms, the greatest way to resolve issues, to create a conversation in the tension, is to be gentle.
"After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisperWhen Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:12-13
Simply process C.S Lewis’ famous quote, “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.” When we let your minds dwell on the differences between harsh leaders and those who lead with gentleness, a weight is lifted, and we breathe deeper.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29
Gentleness stirs a calmness within us that allows us to process and grow. If we want to open the eyes of others, the fastest way is through gentle words and deeds. In Romans 2:4, Paul points out that it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance. Why would we expect anyone else to respond to anything other than a gentle spirit?
When my reaction isn’t rooted in gentleness, I need to pause before I respond. There is a benefit to combining the next fruit (self-control) to ensure I walk in the Fruit of gentleness. When I control my tongue, I can think through what I am going to say and do. From there, I can ask myself, “What is the root of my response? Is it in love? Or is it an issue within me that needs to be addressed and not with this child of God?”
When we are slow to speak and allow ourselves to be gentle, we create an ecosystem within each relationship that creates good, healthy, and safe soil for the right relationships to grow and prosper. Ask yourself, "What environment do I want to be in?" By growing in these fruits, you create a healthy, life-giving environment that will draw others to you for all the right reasons.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love." 2 Peter 1:5-7
We know we are living in God when His Spirit gives us self-control (aka being self-disciplined). Being self-controlled is one strong argument that we are rooted in the Lord and His Spirit lives in us. And as Peter points out, we can persevere when we have self-control, but it is nearly impossible to persevere without self-control. From there we can be more like Jesus, as we are called to be.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
When it comes to living a life for God and growing in the Spirit, it’s so easy to just focus on, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t listen to that. Don’t watch that. Don’t eat that. Don’t drink that. Don’t take part in that.” Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t! But Jesus’ last command didn’t start with don’t. It started with, “Go” (Matt. 28:19). And like Paul, this isn’t encouraging you to “sin all the more.” Instead, examine your heart. What words and thoughts are flowing from your heart? Are you planting seeds with the words you are speaking to others, known and unknown? Are you building up the Church with how you love others and pour into them the loving kindness of God?
Think of it like this: When you take a bite of the most amazing food, what is the usual reaction? “Wow, you need to taste this! It is amazing!” When we experience good food, shows, music, sermons, books, etc, we in turn want everyone to experience the goodness. Are we responding in the same way with the love we are receiving from God? Are we seeing, speaking, and interacting with others driven by the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness God has shown to us? Because when we are, we are walking in the self-control to respond with love more than anger. We have a tendency to respond with patience more than frustration. And when we are forgiven much, we forgive just as easily.
How are you reacting to others?
Are you responding from the Fruit of the Spirit? Or are you reacting without control, without love, without joy, without peace, without patience, without kindness, without goodness, without faithfulness or without gentleness? If your response to God’s creation isn’t one of these fruits, seek after God, His Spirit, and the salvation given to us from Jesus’ sacrifice, and watch how over time you will naturally see those fruits grow in your life as you obey Him and His Word.
The fruit of the Spirit are an ongoing, never-ending process in our lives as we pursue after the Lord. They are a strong litmus test to see where we are on our journey with God. I can pinpoint my distance from God when my love for others is strained, or when I struggle to have patience in situations. When I am stressed and anxious, when was the last time I sat with God, dwelled in His Spirit, and allowed Him to speak to me - prune my branches and encourage my growth? At the end of all this, I want to encourage you, if you aren’t seeing these fruits in your life, God is eager to draw you near and help you grow all of these fruits.
God desires to be in relationship with you and help you grow into everything He has made you capable of being.
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