The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness.

“The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).


Definition: true to commitments; steadfast loyalty; consistent fidelity to truth; trustworthy; keeps promises; living in good faith; sustaining one’s belief; reliability; allegiance; staying true to one’s word.

Love is the Fruit. The “fruit” of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is stated in the singular, not the plural “fruits.” This implies that the first and primary virtue noted, Love, is the one unifying quality of the Holy Spirit’s work in one’s Christian character. All the remaining virtues in this list of fruit are important aspects of  Love. Fruit is meant to be useful. Wax fruit are not to be used in any meaningful way. Real fruit is used in every way possible. Perhaps Love is the fruit of the Spirit, and the other qualities listed are Love’s useful qualities, like the aspects of fruit are such qualities as smell, flavor, color, texture, shape, size, nutrition, ripeness. One can see then that the useful fruit of the Spirit includes loving-joy, loving-peace, loving-patience, loving-kindness, loving-goodness, loving-faithfulness, loving-gentleness, and loving self-control. Simply put, Love is the fruit of the Spirit.

O Come All Ye Faithful. God Himself is the source of our faithfulness. The Holy Spirit renews the image of God in us as He works in our spirit, and one primary quality of God is His faithfulness. We are unable to produce steadfast loyalty on our own. We don’t have the power or ability to do that. Tapping into the vine of Jesus will result in an on-going flow of God’s qualities into us, transforming us into renewed creatures. Faithfulness will become second nature as we live into God’s nature and produce the fruit of the Spirit:

“Hold on to loyal love and don’t let go, and be faithful to all that you’ve been taught. Let your life be shaped by integrity, with truth written upon your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3-4, TPT).

“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22).

“This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.” (Revelation 13:10b).

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matthew 23:23).

Love and Faithfulness. It appears that throughout scripture, of all the Father’s qualities, His love and His faithfulness are most foundational:

“Your mercy, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.”  (Psalm 36:5).

“I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your mercy and faithfulness.” (Ps. 40:10).

“He will send help from heaven to rescue me… My God will send forth His mercy and faithfulness.” (Ps. 57:3).

“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Ps. 86:15).

“For the Lord is good, His mercy continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Ps. 100:5).

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

The Faithful Witness. Jesus is the exact expression of God’s full nature, so it follows that the Son will surely be just as faithful as the Father:

“The Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

“Think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For He was faithful to God.” (Hebrews 3:1-2).

“Jesus Christ… He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.” (Revelation 1:5).

“If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful; for He can not deny who He is.” (2 Timothy 2:13).


Hosea. This so-called minor prophet provides a major lesson on faithfulness. There was a time when God, the faithful keeper of the covenant with His chosen people, sees that His people have betrayed Him. They are chasing after other gods and have lost their first love with the true God. They have switched their affections from God to Baal. They have broken their commitment, they are no longer delighted with their heavenly covenanted spouse, the Lord God. God seems to be thinking here that faithfulness means everything to Him. In fact, in God’s self-revelation in Exodus 34, He stated that faithfulness is central to His very essence, His perfect character! So God wants to make a big impression about their unfaithfulness. “Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” (Hosea 1:2).  God decides to have one of His faithful prophets, Hosea, marry a prostitute, who will then be unfaithful, and have some illegitimate children. God directs Hosea to stay faithful to her, despite her behavior. God suspects that perhaps the people will condemn her adultery, and then will have their eyes opened to the spiritual adultery they have been engaging in. God’s big object lesson, a flesh and blood visual aid. Physical adultery as an illustration of spiritual adultery. God is saying by this living sermon that He will be utterly faithful to His people, just like Hosea is, despite their unfaithfulness. He will continue loving His covenant wife, Israel. God indeed wanted to woo His people, to pursue them in love, to win them back as His lovers, just like Hosea purchasing Gomer out of her slavery in prostitution. “I will win her back once again… When that day comes, says the Lord, you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing mercy and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” (Hosea 2:14, 16, 19-20). Israel may have acted like a prostitute, but I will remain faithful, says the Lord. How can God make it any clearer? Be faithful to me, your spiritual husband, says the Lord. For I will remain faithful to you.

Self-Idolatry. We may not bow down to Baal, but there is another idol we tend to worship… the self. Self-idolatry is a form of spiritual adultery we can all relate to. It is subtle, but it can be tenacious. What does self-idolatry look like?

  • Feeding the ego;
  • Becoming addicted to personal pleasure;
  • Seeking status or power;
  • Indulging in selfish ambition;
  • Putting the needs of one’s self above all else;
  • Needing to be the center of attention.

Feeding the ego is like feeding a snake deep inside, which is ready to receive the food of self-indulgence. As long as the ego-snake is fed and healthy, it can uncoil at any time and insinuate itself into a life in a powerful way. One can only ask God for the power to starve the snake until it is dead. Starve the snake, with God’s help, and one’s ego will become less and less a part of one’s life. Only those who live in the Holy Spirit can have any hope of starving the snake. The Christian life offers an alternative to self-idolatry’s unfaithfulness. Following Jesus gradually progresses from a self-centered life to a God-centered life, from the subtle pull of spiritual adultery to a wholesome life of faithfulness to our spiritual husband, the Lord God.

The Parable of the Pounds. In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus tells us a story… A nobleman was leaving to go and be crowned king in another country. He promised to return at some point in the future. In the meantime, he left clear commands to his servants. He gives them each a pound, worth about 100 days’ wages, and each servant had to put this money to work in the nobleman’s absence. Invest it, make good use of it. He wants the pound invested in this world, to be put into circulation, effectively put into the economy of this world. The servant’s faithfulness will be shown in how this pound is used. It will be a strong sign of faithfulness if a servant learns how to operate in a hostile environment, learns how to spread the wealth of the nobleman’s kingdom, learns how to use the coin of the Lord’s realm effectively. In the story, “Judgment Day” comes when the nobleman returns and demands to see how the servants used the pound given to them. To those who were faithful, the Lord gave more responsibility. To the unfaithful who wasted the pound, the Lord took what little that unfaithful servant had and gave it to a faithful servant. “Jesus thus affirms that the one who responds with faithfulness to gifts received will receive even greater gifts. But the one who proves unfaithful will lose the very gift with which he began.” (Kenneth Bailey). Yes, we are all servants with a pound, waiting for the Master’s return. In the parable he departs (ascension) and then he returns (second coming). The time of our responsibility is now, between those two times. The Lord will hold us accountable for what He has given us through the Holy Spirit in His absence. What have we done with the coin of His realm? Have we put the gospel virtues, the fruit of the Spirit, into circulation, spreading His kingdom in that way? Have we invested His life and power into the spiritual economy of this world? Are we faithful, even when living in a hostile, or at least a skeptical environment? What could be sweeter than to be rewarded with these words of Jesus when the Day comes, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21).

Truth and Faithfulness. Many Biblical scholars believe that John 1:14, where John states that Jesus is “full of grace and truth,” is an intentional repetition of the phrase in Yahweh’s important self-revelation (Exodus 34:6), “abounding in love and faithfulness.” John is so convinced of this that he repeats that claim in verse 17. The Hebrew word used in Exodus 34 is emeth, which means faithfulness, truth, certainty, stability, trustworthiness. John 1 no doubt hearkens back to Yahweh’s nature in Exodus 34, flatly stating that Jesus is of the very same eternal nature as Yahweh, the glorious God of the Hebrew Bible. The fact that the Hebrews saw truth and faithfulness as interchangeable points to God’s character, that He is true to His word, true to His nature, that God keeps truth certainly and with stability and trustworthiness. God is literally, truly faithful, and His true and faithful nature becomes part of our character as we live into His Spirit’s transformation of us.

Last Word. Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 6:23-24, NLT).