But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-24)
In the English language, the word “faithfulness” evokes ideas of loyalty and devotion. A faithful hound is always at your side, and a faithful retainer is marked by loyalty. It’s all allegiance and commitment.
In Greek the word has a rather different flavour. Rather than a dogged commitment “faithfulness” is about being someone in whom other people can trust. You are reliable and committed, not swept along by whatever fad flits across the screen that particular day. It is, to quote the standard dictionary, “that which evokes trust and faith” or “the state of being someone in whom confidence can be placed”.
Steadfastness is an admirable quality, and to be one in whom others can place there trust is a rare gift. It requires saying what you really think, and having actions which match up to those thoughts. You would hope that no-one would approach you, not knowing quite what response to expect.
This all might sound rather dull, but in fact it speaks of an inner strength and a depth of convictions. The reliable person is one who has thought deeply about what he or she believes, and puts it all into practice. It is, in the end, a deeply attractive trait.
Of course, the person who exemplified faithfulness is Jesus himself. The cry of the New Testament is a call to place you trust in him, the one who beyond all others is worthy of trust. The core of Christianity is faith, placing your trust in God and realising your own limitations. If we are to be faithful people ourselves, we would be best advised to follow the Christ who is deeply faithful.
This is a fruit of the Spirit which gives deep and enduring foundations.