Saturday, September 27, 2014

The fruit of the Spirit is... FAITHFULNESS and GENTLENESS

I love the way that Psalms 36:5 describes the vastness of our Father's faithfulness to us... "Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds." His love is more immense than we could ever imagine, his faithfulness higher than we could ever reach! Jesus is faithfulness, Revelation 19:11 tells us; "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war." The Lord is so faithful to us, undeserving as we are! 1 John 1:9 reminds us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When you are given faithfulness, it should make you want to show faithfulness back, and the disciples understood this. The story told in John 6:66-68 illustrates this when it says "After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”"There is no one who deserves more faithfulness and thankfulness from us than the Lord our God! This hymn is a praise to God's faithfulness in a tone of deep thankfulness...

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been,Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

I love the faithfulness of David to his brother in the Lord, Jonathan. They made a covenant to each other, and even after Jonathan died, David stuck to that promise and cared for his family for years. Ruth also showed faithfulness to Naomi when she followed her to the Promised Land even after Naomi tried to discourage her and gave her no thanks.
Faithfulness is not always being the one who will go along with those we know just to prove that "we will do anything with and for that person". True faithfulness is, at times, leading them back from a path of sin, even if this is painful for the person- or for you. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy," says Proverbs 27:6. But even while using faithfulness to correct, you must also use faithfulness to connect. Just because you are correcting others does not mean that you should let all bets off and say or do anything that could damage your relationship. When David's son Absalom tried to take the kingdom and started a war, in faithfulness to his kingdom, King David had to fight back. But that didn't mean that he gave up faithfulness to the bond between him and his son. He wanted to correct the wrong, yes, but he also wanted to restore the relationship. "And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom" (2 Samuel 18:5). He announced both his desire (though Joab did not listen) and his method-gentleness- publicly. Which leads me to a few words on the fruit of gentleness :).

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere," says James 3:17. Wisdom and gentleness go hand in hand, and I think that is logical, since those who practice gentleness are often the ones who listen the most. I read a poem in my fourth grade English book that said 

"A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?"
That poem has stuck with me ever since. This "wise old owl" was not clamoring to be heard or put in the spotlight, but was quietly listening to others before he drew his conclusions. Often, the reason we do not respond gently is because we deal with an issue before we have all the details that will shed light on the situation, and it causes us to stress and react harshly. 
But look at what David says to the Lord; "You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great" (Psalm 18:35 ESV). Isn't it true? When you deal with a little one as they are learning something, don't they respond better as you deal gently with them rather than rushing them? I don't speak from a lot of experience here... patience, self-control, and gentleness all fall under the same category for me... category "I definitely need God to continue growing my obedience in those areas!". Haha :). But the Lord is faithful to continue to teach me and grow me, and for this I am thankful :)! These verses are a wonderful reminder of the bond of unity that we are to have with others; "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." (2 Timothy 2:24)

Blessings to you as you serve our Lord,

Bri :)

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"May the Lord, the God of your fathers... bless you!" Deuteronomy 1:11