Read: Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 12:1-2
But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . faithfulness. (v. 22)
“There is no shadow of turning with Thee.” That’s how we describe God’s faithfulness in the familiar hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” This image reflects loyalty and commitment—the one who is faithful can be trusted to follow through.
An interesting debate continues among those who study Galatians and other letters of Paul. It centers on a grammatical issue. There’s a phrase that could be translated as faith in Christ or as the faith of Christ. The ambiguity in Galatians leads some to wonder about the difference between our human faith in Christ, and the faith—or faithfulness—of Christ. So when “faithfulness” gets listed among the fruits of the Spirit, there are echoes of the same double meaning. Whose faith is in focus here? When it comes to the fruit of the Spirit, I think it’s both. The faithfulness that the Spirit produces in us derives from the faithfulness that Christ modeled. It’s the faithfulness that led Christ to be baptized, to go into the wilderness, to preach good news, to heal the sick, and to suffer crucifixion for our sake. To whatever extent we as Christ-followers are faithful to the mission and ministry to which Christ summons us, it is Christ’s example that patterns our discipleship. Christ’s faithfulness led him to a point where he experienced God-forsakenness. Our journey of faith may also lead to difficult places, but the One whose faithfulness guides our steps will see us through. He lives, and so shall we.
As you pray, ask God to assure you of God’s steadfastness.
About the Author
Jessica Bratt Carle lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she has served as a chaplain and more recently as a clinical ethicist at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) since 2017. She is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She and her husband have two young sons.