The seventh fruit is the Greek word for “faith.” This is a common word, with two distinct meanings. The more common, as you might expect, is “faith”—which is simply trust, believing someone or something. The other is “faithfulness,” or trustworthiness, or reliability—someone who can be believed.
In this passage, the KJV has “faith,” while all the modern versions except the HCSB have “faithfulness.”
Why are they so confident? I suspect because it seems odd to say that “faith” is a product of sanctification after you’re saved, if “faith” is the key to how you got saved in the first place. But faithfulness, trustworthiness, as a result of sanctification makes perfect sense; in Ephesians Paul makes it a specific example of how Christ’s followers differ from the kind of people they were before:
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Ep 4.25).
So something the Spirit of God works in us is faithfulness:
- We tell the truth.
- We keep our promises.
- Our word is our bond.
- We show up when we said we would.
Why is that important? Paul gives us one reason in the Ephesians passage: “for we are members one of another.” It wouldn’t make any sense for the hand to lie to the eye, or to ignore its responsibilities to the eye, because they’re parts of the same body, and all the parts want the whole body to prosper. Have you ever noticed that when you get something in your eye, your finger doesn’t hurt? But it knows that because it’s articulated, and pointy, and reinforced at the tip with the backing of a fingernail, it can help your eye out with things that the eye can’t do for itself. I’ve noticed that my mouth, even though there’s nothing it can do, still wants to help—try getting something out of your eye with your mouth closed. 🙂
So how moronic is it to lie to another member of the body of Christ? or to make a promise you don’t intend to keep?
When my older daughter was about 10, I had the opportunity to take her on a two-week fossil-digging trip out West with a friend. At the time, my younger daughter was too young to come along, but since it appeared that such trips would be likely in the future, I told her that when she was 10, I’d take her on a trip too.
You know how it goes. Complications came along, and 4 years later the trip just wasn’t possible. I had to tell my little girl that I had made her a promise I couldn’t keep. I have never felt lower than in that moment. (Fortunately, she seems to have handled it well, avoiding prison time and other evidences of sociopathy.)
Do you recall the biblical story of Joshua and the Gibeonites? The Lord had commanded Israel to exterminate the Canaanite tribes. The Gibeonites tricked Joshua into believing that they were from far away and therefore not included in the decree, and Joshua promised—with an oath on the name of YHWH (Jos 9.18)—that he would not harm them.
Shortly later, of course, he found out that they had lied.
And he still kept his promise (Jos 9.1-27).
In our day, any such fraudulent contract would be legally void. But Joshua didn’t see it that way.
And centuries later, when King Saul went after the Gibeonites, in violation of Joshua’s oath, apparently God didn’t see it that way either (2S 21.1-9).
I don’t know about you, but I notice when people don’t keep their word, and if it happens repeatedly, I remember. And then I don’t count on them. And sometimes that has consequences for them—they don’t get a position of responsibility that they might otherwise have gotten.
Keeping your word matters.
Jesus said that people will know us by our fruit.
Who are you?