Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Adeste Fideles

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 
Psalm 36:5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodnessfaithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal. 5:22-23. 

We have been writing about the fruits of the Holy Spirit here on Kingdom Bloggers for several weeks, referencing Galatians 5:22. These fruits are what Paul says should be by-products (the dictionary defines fruit as a ‘sweet product’) of a life truly given over to Christ.

Because we are human, we will never produce these sweet fruits constantlythus, the need for repentance and God’s grace. So, this latest fruitfaithfulnessis not to be a legalistic yoke, too heavy and difficult for us to bear. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day believed faithfulness was exemplified by following rules: if you did not follow the rules, you were not faithful. But Jesus chided the religious elitists:   “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23).

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Faithfulness is obedience out of love, not out of obligation, fear and duty. We love God because He first loved us, not the other way around.   Faithfulness is a reliance and undivided focus on the God who loves us: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).

I have known people of great faith. They never had a headline, or wealth, or fame. They were anonymous individuals, except to those blessed enough to know them. I knew Vinny, a high school janitor, who was never embarrassed to show or share his faith. Once, at the end of a school day, he shared stories of the God he served with a co-worker in an office, not realizing the P.A. system was on. Teachers and principals, who barely gave him notice before, were suddenly hearing stories of Vinny’s—and God’s—faithfulness.

I knew Cathy, Mary and Maureen, three amazing women, who clung to God as they each battled cancer. They did not, as Job’s wife urged him to do as he endured terrible loss and illness, “curse God and die.” They exuded love and grace and faithfulness, even while being real about their fears, their pain and not wanting to leave loved ones behind too soon. Could I? Would I?

Praise Him, for the Gospel is about God’s grace and faithfulness to a humanity in desperate need. God proves His faithfulness everyday: each new morning, he bestows a great mercy by allowing me to have another day to breathe, to show love, to experience forgiveness, to make up for the losses of yesterday.

But what if He did not give me another day? Here is Job's answer: “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15). God cannot be anything but faithful. That is His character—ever true, the most faithful of lovers. His story is one of incredible patience, compassion and fidelity towards a people who time and again only proved themselves unfaithful.


Linda Maynard said...

I loved the story about Vinny. sounds like a God set-up.
One of the people that came to mind was your mother too.
When you mentioned the 3 women, I don't think I knew the first 2 but knew Maureen casually. However when anyone would talk about her I knew two things...she was deeply loved and respected and she was a woman of faith.
I do wonder how I would be in such difficult circumstances. I do pray that I would not loose hope in the Lord's ability to heal me but just as well, to not be buried under false guilt that I was not healed because I lacked enough faith. I believe people can be black and white sometimes on complex issues

Kerry Luddy said...

Very true, Linda, re: your comment about complex issues. God does heal--I have seen it with my own eyes. But, sometimes He does not heal in the way, timing, etc., we want or expect. I have seen that happen as well, like with my dad, a very faithful believer.