For this week’s devotional on the fruit of the Spirit, we are looking at faithfulness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
The Greek term for faithfulness used in our key verse is “pistis” which conveys faith, belief, trust and confidence. This is the same word used when Jesus says things like, “Your faith (pistis) has healed you,” (Mark 5:34, 10:52) and in Mark 4:40, “Why are so afraid? Do you still have no faith (pistis)?” It is the same term used all throughout the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.
With everything going on in our world right now, it’s hard to be faithful. It’s easy to doubt what God is doing with this pandemic or in the various hardships he’s sending our way. Despite these storms, it is possible to have full faith in God – and not just blind, oblivious belief.
True faith changes the way we live. When we have assurance in God and conviction in His Word, we will live differently. Because we have no other choice.
Have you ever gotten a scam phone call or email stating that you won an all-expenses-paid vacation? Or a brand new iPhone? If we really had any sort of conviction that we’d won something, we would act differently, right? If you had conviction that you’d actually won an incredible Cancun vacation, you would jump off the couch and run to tell your husband. You’d pack your bags. You’d post on Facebook and look up “summer Cancun packing list” on Pinterest. Right?!
True faith changes us.
It’s not blind belief or passive understanding.
It’s conviction that leads to action.
This faithfulness comes from the Spirit – remember, this is the fruit of the Spirit we’re talking about here! The Holy Spirit helps us to have faith in God.
Hebrews 10:15 refers to the Holy Spirit as a witness or testifier to us about Jesus and the Gospel. If you have the Holy Spirit, that means you have an expert witness living inside of you – and He is constantly testifying to us about God and the Gospel!
Faith leads us to trust God.
When we truly believe that God is who He says He is, we don’t have to be afraid. Think about the story in Mark 4 when Jesus and the disciples are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and they get caught in a storm on the water. The disciples are terrified but Jesus is asleep. They wake Him up and He quiets the wind and the waves, and they are amazed. This is where He says: Why were you afraid? Do you still have no faith?
What He’s saying is: You had the Son of God, the co-Creator of the universe, in your boat. Did you really think I’d let something happen to you without my consent or knowledge? Did you really think those waves could harm you when you were with me?
Translate that to today: If we choose Him, God is alongside us as we go through life. What can truly harm us? What do we really have to be afraid of?
Let’s ask ourselves: What areas of my life have I not given over to God? Do I truly believe that He is Lord of All?
In the midst of this pandemic, it’s easy to fear and to allow ourselves to go down the “rabbit hole” of what-ifs. But mamas, let’s remember that God is greater than the coronavirus. He’s greater than any illness – even a pandemic. And, what’s more than that, He loves us so much He didn’t even withhold His Son from us. What can we possibly be afraid of?
(To be extra clear: I am not advocating irresponsibility in the face of this pandemic. Please be responsible and take care of yourself and your family. To read more about this, go here.)
Faith leads us to obey God.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
Here, Jesus is talking to Jews who already believed in Him. So, is it enough to “just believe?” This verse shows me that our belief leads us to obedience. Remember that all-expenses-paid vacation? If we really believed we’d won something, we would take action. It’s the same thing with Jesus: if we truly are convinced in Him and His Word, it can’t help but lead us into action. James 2 says that faith without deeds is useless. It’s dead.
Let’s ask ourselves: is there something I’m ignoring in God’s Word or choosing to not obey? If so, is there a faith issue I need to grapple with? For example, if I’m not obeying God’s command to submit to and respect my husband, is the root of that disobedience my lack of faith in God’s Word, my lack of understanding or perhaps my belief that this really isn’t that important to God? Either way, it’s critical to figure out the underlying issue in order to have true faith that obeys the Living God.
Faith leads us to tell others about God.
I love (and am convicted by) the passage in Acts 4 when Peter and John are commanded by the Jewish Ruling Council to stop talking about Jesus. Their response is amazing:
But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God. As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”Acts 4:19-20
They couldn’t help it. They had seen God in flesh and nothing – not even their religious governing body – could make them stop telling people about it.
That is so far from how I am sometimes, it’s sad. And it makes me wonder: do I really believe this? If I consider the truth of the Gospel: that God, the Creator of the Universe, sent His Son to be killed for me and then He rose from the dead…if this is true, how should I respond? If I am assured of this and have a conviction about this truth, it will invariably lead me to tell other people about it. (Remember the vacation? Yeah…)
So why do I sometimes shrink back? Why do I hesitate to even mention Jesus’s name in front of others who may not be believers? Fear of rejection. People pleasing. Laziness. Mis-ordering of priorities. An ungodly comfortability with the incredible sacrifice of God.
Lord, help me. Help my faith to grow to the point where people’s rejection doesn’t matter. Where you are always at the top of my priorities. That I never grow too comfortable with the knowledge of your love.
Mamas, is there a particular question or doubt in your mind that is keeping you from giving yourself fully to God? If so, pursue truth. I’m not saying that there will be a perfect answer for you to give you complete clarity and resolution – but I believe that when we seek truth in sincerity, God will show us what we need. It may take time. It may take tears and struggle. But the truth will come.
My journey of faith:
Prior to one of the most difficult seasons of my life, I really struggled with my faith in God’s love. I believed wholeheartedly that God loves. I could wax poetic about all the ways He loves you. But my struggle was: does God really love me? Can He love me after all my failings?
During this time, I went to a large Christian conference where the theme was all about God’s grace. I remember sitting in the front row of one of the main lessons thinking: I’ll get it after this. It’ll answer all my questions, assuage all my doubts, and I’ll finally “get it.”
That is not what happened.
I remember so clearly looking around during the lesson, seeing lightbulbs going off for other people. Friends, family members, strangers, all in tears over God’s incredible grace.
And I just felt numb. Empty. Unloved.
Later that day, Tyler and I went to lunch with some of our close friends and I remember just crying over our meal. I don’t believe God loves me, I told them.
Honestly, it was a sad time. No one had any really great words for me. I’m grateful for Tyler, Kyle and Kristin for going through that low time with me – I could tell they were aching for me and with me.
This continued to be a faith struggle for many, many months. But it wasn’t something that I was willing to just push into the background. I didn’t let the doubt overwhelm me to the point of defeat. I kept fighting, and God kept guiding me and speaking to me.
About a year later is when I started having a hard time with my health. I was plagued by chronic, debilitating pain. I was 25 years old and my life came to a screeching halt. All I could do was get through each day. In many ways, it was awful.
But you want to know what was wonderful about it? I knew God was with me through it. In the hardest, most painful moments of my life, God was there. In the middle of the night, in the throes of pain, He was beside me.
Over months of dealing with my chronic pain, the Gospel message that I had been trying so hard to “get” became suddenly crystal clear to me. At my most useless, in the moments when I could do nothing for Him, I became most convinced that He loved me. He loved me for me – not for what I could “do” for Him. It was amazing.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
I tell you this story to encourage you, mamas: don’t give up. If you have doubts, fears or faith issues that are plaguing you, don’t stop searching for the truth. Or perhaps you have a question (or many questions) that you haven’t let yourself voice, even to yourself.
God wants our faith to come from careful consideration, not just blind belief. He wants this for us because out of that true faith comes power.
A changed life – one truly clothed in the Holy Spirit – is the greatest testimony of a powerful, loving God.
If you have questions of faith that you haven’t asked because you’re afraid of what you’ll find, don’t be. Search with sincerity and humility, there you will find what God wants to reveal to you.
A caveat: sometimes we have “doubts” simply because we just want to do what we want to do. We want to justify our sin, so we convince ourselves that maybe God isn’t who He says He is. That has nothing to do with God’s power or goodness or love – it has to do with our sinful nature. Be honest with yourself about your doubts and bring them to God. He can help us overcome anything.
Faith says: No matter what, I’m going to believe in the goodness, power and love of the Almighty God.
Right now, with a pandemic sweeping our world, it can be difficult to understand what God is doing. We can hear the questions of doubt and fear creeping in: Is God really in control of this? If God is really good, why would He allow this?
Faith says: Even when I don’t understand why something is happening, I know who God is. I know that He is loving, powerful and sovereign. I choose to believe His Word that says He is working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Remember, mamas, God has grace with even the failings in our faith. One of my favorite Gospel stories is in Mark 9 about the father who brings his son to be healed by Jesus. Jesus tells him: Everything is possible for he who believes. The father exclaims: I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief. I love this. It shows humility, sincerity and searching for true faith even in the midst of doubt and trials. This is my cry to God – and can be yours, too: I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief.
My prayer is that our faith will lead us to trust and obey God. And that the power of our changed lives and attitudes will lead others to see Christ. I pray that we can open our mouths to tell the people around us about the incredible God we serve – no matter how awkward our words, no matter their reactions. Let’s cry out in the Spirit to be women filled with faith and experience the immense blessings of trusting in a faithful God.