Thursday, January 7th Galatians 5:22-26

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Faithfulness is a word that we seldom look too closely at. We see it. We hear it. We might even use it. But do we ever think very hard about what it means?

It is a compound word. The root word is “faith” which is a noun. (Remember? A person, place or thing.) While we might know people named “Faith” and we might speak metaphorically about “standing on faith”, we all assume that faith is more of a “thing” than anything else. But what kind of a thing is it?

Then we add the suffix “ful” to the word faith and we end up with “faithful”. We usually think that the “ful” suffix means the same thing as the word “full.” As “suspenseful” means “full of suspense” (but not that “bashful” means “full of bash.”) But is “faith” really some kind of “thing” of which we can be “full”? I hardly think so.

We normally use the word “faithful” in a religious sense. A Christian, we think, is a faithful person (or at least ought to be). But is that really the case? I consider myself a “faithful” person but I never consider myself “full” of faith. Most of the time my faith is a glimmer in my reality, a speck of something that often goes unnoticed in any meaningful, helpful, way. When it comes to faith, if faith is really some kind of “thing”, then I feel like a leaky bucket. “Faith” keeps leaking out of me so I need a steady resupply to keep me connected and full.

But we also use the word in other ways. We can talk about being faithful to our spouse or significant other, faithful to various traditions of which we are a part. In that sense, faith isn’t a “thing” but a way of acting, living and behaving within an emotional, relational boundary. Faithful has to do with fidelity, loyalty, exclusivity. Faith here is more like an action word, a verb, like “love” – something which the word “thing” is hardly an apt description.

Then comes the next suffix, “ness.” “Ness” is usually thought of as a state of being. “Completeness” is the state of being complete. “Faithfulness” would then be “the state of being full of faith.” But then we’re back to the idea of faith as a “thing” and we’ve already seen that is an inadequate understanding of the word.

But what if we put all of this together, while remembering that this is a list of the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit rather than targets for human achievement? As Christian people we would immediately tie faithfulness to the person of Jesus Christ, who made visible God’s faithfulness toward us. Looking at Jesus, we would see the place of the cross as the epitome of faithfulness. Remembering Jesus, we would see water and bread and wine as places where our faith meets God’s faith, where we surrender our striving and are filled with a love we neither deserve nor understand.

Faithfulness then becomes more of a river in which we are carried along. Persons, places and things take on new meanings because of this faith which is being poured into us. Not to be used but to be used as intended. To be loved as signs of the Giver of gifts. And yes, we’re all leaky buckets – so faithfulness invites us to gather regularly with other people, at the places where we worship, to be filled with that thing which we can never understand, but without which we can never fully and truly live.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you’ve told us that faith can move mountains. Those words are still hard to hear, for faith is such a mystery to us. We know its presence, we know its power, and we know that true faith comes as a gift of your love. Fill us with this gift, that we might be faithful people in all of the corners of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Thursday, January 7th Galatians 5:22-26”

  1. Kim Says:

    I’ve been reading your devotions for several years now, and you always inspire me. Just wanted you to know that I’ve given you a blogger award. You can pick it up on Kimmy Does Denver (www.kimturnage.blogspot.com). Thanks for jumping into the river every day!

  2. Mary Dvorak Says:

    I was wondering if you have ever thought about publishing your daily devotions? If you have or you ever do please let me know, I’d like to give them to my family and friends, especially those not email savy like my mom! Thank you for your dedication to this ministry!

  3. Roberta Edwards Says:

    Pastor Kerry

    I have been a reader of your devotions for numerous years now. I have responded during other writings while you were still in Houston. This morning I was rereading your last weeks devotions Jan.4-8 and saw this comment by Mary Dvorak inquiring if you had ever thought about publishing. I would like to make the same request. If you ever publish please let me know. For one so young same age as my oldest daughter you have a most enlightened insight and way of presenting the Gospel that appeals to many. Among my friends it is common to hear, did you read Kerry this morning.
    Thank you
    Roberta
    .

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