God Stories / Spiritual Formation

Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness – Jim Farmer

Jim FarmerBy Jim Farmer (Deacon)

Whenever I am asked to write about a subject with which I’m uncomfortable (meaning, every time I am asked to write about anything), I start by getting out my faithful dictionary. The dictionary has changed in physical form over the years: in college it was a big red book I bought during my freshman year because the English Department said I had to buy it.  Much later, my wife gave me a paperback dictionary because she said it would be easier to keep on my desk at work. Besides, she needed to give me something for my birthday, and I hadn’t given her any ideas. Still much later, one of my then teen-aged daughters gave me a new paperback dictionary because she thought the old one was too old (she thought the same of me). In recent years, I have traded the paper dictionary for one on my Kindle. But as the physical form of the dictionary has morphed, the words in it have remained faithful to the current English language usage.

So I now turn to the Kindle and check the definition of faithfulness – it addresses the adjective form, “faithful.” The first thing it says is, “loyal, constant and steadfast.” Hey, faithfulness is what I expected out of my dictionary as its physical form has morphed over the last half century (plus) since that first red dictionary. Its definitions have remained loyal to the language, constantly reflecting the accepted meaning of words, and steadfast in its mission to prevent me from making some of the more egregious writing and speaking mistakes that I would make without it.

I can give no less faithfulness to my Country and my work, to my family, to my Church and most importantly, to my God. All have the right to expect my loyalty, and my constant and steadfast devotion and support. One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 5:37, in which Jesus instructs us, “Instead, let your message be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one” (ISV). Why? Because a faithful person is a person of his or her word: if I say it, then I will stand by it. If I practice faithfulness, then I don’t need to make a commitment beyond “yes” or “no,” because I am loyal, I am constant (don’t change what I promise), and I am steadfast – you can count on me to do what I say I will do.

Every month when I send email to the ushers on my group reminding them that it is time for us to usher again, I end by saying, “Thanks for your faithfulness.”  They are loyal to their Church, they are constant, being there if at all possible and steadfast – firm and unwavering in their service. It’s the definition of faithfulness. And that’s just one of hundreds of services at our Church performed by faithful people.

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