During our Wednesday evening summer activities in the children’s department, we are cover the fruit of the Spirit. We have seen God do some great things in the lives of the kids as they are learning what it means to have the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit manifests Itself in us during our daily activities. The fruit of the Spirit is mentioned in Galatians 5:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The list begins with love and the rest of the characteristics flow out of it. Love here is the Greek word “agape” which means to serve the object of this love for the good of the object. When this love is in us, we begin to have joy and peace in every circumstance in life. As we endure situations with joy and peace, our patience grows. As we seek to serve others because of the love of God in us, we show them kindness and goodness every chance that we get. The next characteristic that flows out of this is our topic for the day, faithfulness. God is the source of faithfulness and all of our faithfulness flows from Him.
With this lesson, I would like to take a look at Abraham, the father of faith. Faith of course, is the root word of faithfulness. How did Abraham become the father of faith and how does that impact us today?
I. Abraham: called by God to have faith
In Genesis 12, God calls Abraham to follow Him. Abraham grew up in a polytheistic society, believing in many different gods. His parents or grandparents may well have been involved in attempting to build the tower of Babel. Abraham really did not know the One true God. Abraham had faith in many different gods but he lacked the genuine faith that it takes to know the God of the Bible. God comes to Abraham and speaks to him. God gives Abraham a calling and Abraham has to make a choice, either to believe what God tells him or to continue believing in his inherited religion. God also calls Abraham to leave his family and his comfortable life at 75 years old and go and live in the desert. God promises to tell Abraham where to go after he begins the journey. This is the foundation of faith. God is teaching Abraham how to have faith by giving him an opportunity to apply what God tells him. In fact, this is what faith is, taking God at His Word and applying what He tells you to do. Abraham is called and he answers that call. He shows his faith by believing God’s Word and putting it into practice. So, as we can see, the whole idea of faithfulness comes from God. He shows us what faithfulness is by His own example. When He says something in His Word, it is just as good as done.
II. God teaches Abraham faithfulness
God allows Abraham to go through situations to demonstrate what faithfulness is and what faithfulness is not. The first situation is with Abraham’s nephew, Lot. Abraham takes Lot and raises him after his father dies and he is left as an orphan. Abraham teaches Lot about faith and how to have a relationship with God. Lot grows rich just as Abraham is because of God’s blessings. Lot, unfortunately, does not learn the same faithfulness that Abraham has. Lot takes advantage of his mentor’s goodness. Although Lot is not faithful, God shows His faithfulness to Abraham even after Lot had taken advantage of him.
The second situation is with Abraham and his wife Sarah. Abraham extended his faith to Sarah and Sarah was learning how to have a relationship with God. As she and Abraham were walking with God, Sarah decides that she wants to help God out and actually goes against His Word and calling. She convinces Abraham to join in her plan and they both end up not being faithful to God. In the midst of their faithlessness, God intervenes and shows them what faithfulness is. In both of these situations, God teaches Abraham faithfulness with His own example juxtaposed to the negative examples of Abraham, Sarah, and Lot. Abraham learns his lessons well.
III. Abraham: an example for all
Finally, God’s promises to Abraham are fulfilled one by one. Abraham has a son, Isaac. By the time that Isaac is born, Abraham has learned a lot about faith and faithfulness. He extends his faith to his son and exemplifies faithfulness. Isaac passes this idea of faith and faithfulness on to his son Jacob and then Jacob to his twelve sons. The nation of Israel is formed and many years later, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is born to manifest God’s faithfulness in the flesh. Jesus was faithful to His calling and passed on faith and faithfulness to His disciples. His disciples have been repeating the process for almost 2,000 years so that today, we can learn of the faith and faithfulness that God first taught to Abraham.
Do you have faith like Abraham? Are you being faithful to God’s calling the way that Abraham was? If faithfulness to God is not a way of life for you then where is the problem? God has give the Holy Spirit to you. He has given His Word to you. He has given a great example to you in the person of Abraham. Are you ready to be faithful to God and extend your faith to the people whom God has placed in your life?