Sermon on July 13, 2008: Faithfulness

15 07 2008

 

 

Well, here we are.  Finally.  At week Seven.  For six weeks we have been looking at the Fruits of the Spirit – what happens to a person when the Holy Spirit enters in and takes charge.  We spoke how when this happens, you become a different kind of person – that you manifest different traits – different patterns of behavior.  First and foremost you love.  You love with the kind of love that God loves – an unconditional love – a no strings attached love – a love that has everything to do with the giver and little to nothing to do with the receiver.  We spoke about how this love produces in us joy – great joy – joy because we have found and experience the love of God.  How this then leads to peace.  How our souls become quiet because we know that all is well between us and God.  And as a result of this we can show patience to one another – tolerance even when patience is put to the extreme test.  And how this leads us to see ourselves as a servant – a slave to others.  And how this slavery is one that gives to people always what they need.  It is a slavery that leads people to repentance and then to forgiveness and then to walk the path of God from here into eternity.

 

          Now we are at our final Fruit of the Spirit – the last and perhaps the most important Gift of the Spirit.  In Galatians St. Paul calls this last Fruit of the Holy Spirit pistiV.  pistiV is usually translated as faithfulness.  OK.  But faithful to what?  To whom?  Well, to answer that question I once again went back to my library, pulled a commentary off of the shelve and looked it up.  And here’s what I found:

 

St. Paul took for granted that no man could be either “just” or “justified” without putting “faith” in God’s “faithfulness” and being “faithful” in word and deed.

 

Are you confused?  Well let me read you a little more.

 

The first fruit of St. Paul’s faith was a vital, mystical-moral fellowship with Jesus.  Living thus, he learned to believe, to hope, and to love, assured of immortality and empowered to share the sufferings to present himself as a living sacrifice in rational service of God.  The faithful faith steadied Paul in the storms of life; but it did something even better: it enabled him to walk with his Lord on the highway of love that had been built by the love of the God who was faithful.

 

          Are you confused?  Well, let’s see if I can make this simple.  Faith is something that God gives us.  It is a Fruit of the Spirit.  Our acceptance of that Fruit of the Spirit opens up for us a whole new world.  A world that begins with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and ends with our marching into the presence of God as citizens of heaven – as lambs of the Good Shepherd – as children of the Heavenly Father.

      

    But this Faith then requires us to be Faithful.  Faithful to God.  To do everything that is within us to follow the Father.  To walk in His Ways.  We can’t say that we have faith and then not go to worship on a Sunday Morning.  That is what it means to be faithful.  We can’t say that we have faith and then not support the work of God with our offerings.  That is what it means to be faithful.  We can’t say that we have faith and then not live our life according to the rules that God has set out.  If we love God.  If we are full of faith.  If we are faithful.  Then these are the things that we do.  We walk in the ways of God.  We follow the paths of God.  When people look at us, they should be able to tell that we are followers of God.  They should be able to tell because of our active prayer life.  They should be able to tell because they see us on our way to worship every Sunday Morning.  They should be able to tell because they see us taking our children to Sunday School.  They should be able to tell because they see us reading our Bibles.  They should be able to tell because they see us handling the deep, dark valleys of life with courage – because we know a secret.  We know that our God is with us and that He will bear us up so that we can fly on eagles’ wings.  They should be able to tell because they see us handling even death with courage and faithfulness in the promises of God that when this life ends – new life begins.

 

          But then this faithfulness is also demonstrated in a second direction.  The way that we care for each other.  This is what drove St. Paul to travel from Antioch to Turkey to Greece to Rome and even to France and Spain.  He saw people out there who didn’t know the wonderful news of God’s love.  He saw people who didn’t know the wonderful story of how Jesus came and died and rose again.  Because of His faithfulness to God St. Paul was not satisfied in simply being a Disciple.  He understood that to Be a Disciple meant that he needed to be making Disciples.  He spent every waking moment telling others about his Jesus.  When he travelled the highways of the Roman Empire, he told every one that he met about his Jesus.  When they locked him in prison, he told his jailers about his Jesus.  When the put him in prison he wrote letters to tell the world about his Jesus.  And now St. Paul wants us to understand that to be faithful means to share our Jesus with others. 

To tell our friends and invite them to church.  To offer to help with VBS or to bring some neighborhood children because we want children to know our Jesus.  We come down and help with DZ@6 because we want people that we have never, ever met before to meet our Jesus.  It means in September I will sign up for a Christ Care Group that Jeff Greathouse is putting together, because I know this is a way that I can help another meet my Jesus.  It means that I pray with brothers who are hurting.  I listen to sisters who feel that life is passing them by, because I want them to meet my Jesus.  It means that I understand to be faithful to God means to be faithful to those around me.  It means that I understand that to be a disciple means that I must also make disciples.  It means that every day I wake up with two thoughts on my mind.  What can I do to deepen my faith and be a faithful follower of Jesus?  What can I do to not only be a disciple but what can I do to day to make a disciple?

 

 

Amen!

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