[Galatians 5: 22-23]
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In Matthew chapter 25 we find the parable of the talent.
A master gave each of his three servants one talent, two talents, and five talents respectively.
The servant who received five talents conducted merchandising for his master and gained an additional five talents.
The servant given two talents also gained two more talents.
But the one with one talent just buried the talent in the ground and did not make any profit.
The master praised the servants who earned the two and five additional talents and gave them rewards.
He said, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
But he rebuked the servant who just buried the one talent saying, “You wicked and lazy slave” and said, “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness.”
Then he took his one talent and gave it to the servant who earned five additional talents.
God also gives us many duties according to our talents, so we can work for Him.
We should never bury an opportunity in the ground.
We have to fulfill it with all our strength, so we can benefit the kingdom of God.
Today, among the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, I will talk about ‘faithfulness’ the 7th fruit.
Through this message, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will check your heart once again and become precious workers who can be recognized by God as a ‘good and faithful servant’.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the dictionary definition of the word ‘faithfulness’ is the quality of being steadfast in affection or allegiance, or firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty.
Even in the world, faithful people are valued highly for being trustworthy.
And those who are spiritually faithful are treasures in the kingdom of God and they give out a fragrant aroma.
They give out the fragrance of an unchanging heart, the fragrance of steadfast obedience like that of a work cow, and the fragrance of a trustworthy heart.
If we can give out these kinds of fragrances, the Lord will also say we are so lovely and He wants to embrace us.
But the kind of faithfulness that is recognized by God is different from that of the worldly people.
Just fulfilling our duty completely in action cannot be spiritual faithfulness.
Also, if we put all our effort and even our lives in one particular area, it is not complete faithfulness.
Then, what kind of faithfulness is the true faithfulness that is recognized by God?
First, it is to do more than what is entrusted to us.
When workers are paid for their work, we don’t say they are faithful when they fulfill their duties.
We can say they did their job, but they did only what they are paid for, so we cannot say they are faithful.
But even among the paid workers, there are some who do more than what they are paid to do.
They don’t do it with reluctance or just thinking they have to do at least as much as they are paid.
They fulfill the duty with all their heart, mind, and soul, without sparing their time and money, having the desire coming from the heart.
For example, there are some Levites who do much more than what they are entrusted to do.
They work even after work hours or on holidays, and even when they don’t work, they always think about their duties.
They don’t just do what they are told to do, but they always think about how to do their job better to benefit the church and the members.
In addition, they spend their time and effort to take care of other souls, too, functioning as cell leaders or small group leaders.
It is faithfulness when we do more than what we are entrusted to do, like above.
Also, in taking responsibility, those who bear the fruit of faithfulness will do more than what they are responsible for doing.
For example, in the case of Moses, he put up his life when he prayed to save the sons of Israel who had committed sins.
Actually, Moses’ duty was to bring out the people from Egypt and lead them according to the commands of God.
But when Moses was fulfilling this duty, he did not just obey in action to do what God commanded him to do.
He had the heart of God and guided the people with all his love and effort when he fulfilled his duty.
That is why, when the people committed sins, he felt as if it were his own fault, and he wanted to take the responsibility for it.
It is the same with the apostle Paul.
Romans 9:3 says, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,”
He did not think, “I tried my best to preach the gospel, but they didn’t accept it. I can’t help it.”
You already heard many times these professions of faith of these two great men of God.
But even though you hear it often and know it, you cannot cultivate the heart of faithfulness.
Even those who have faith and perform their duties would say something different from what Moses said if they were in the same situation that he had been.
Namely, they will say, “God, I did my best. I feel pity for the people, but I have also suffered a lot while leading these people.”
What they are really saying is “I did everything I was supposed to do.”
They may even worry that though they are not responsible, they may receive the rebuke together with others’ for their sins.
But even though their words may be right, we can understand the heart of these people is quite far away from faithfulness.
Of course, not just anybody can pray, “Please forgive their sins or blot me out of the book of life.”
And when I am talking about this faithfulness, it is not about the great love to sacrifice one’s life.
It just means that if we bear the fruit of faithfulness in our heart, we cannot just say we do not have responsibility.
Before we think we did our best in our deeds, we will first think about the kind of heart we had when we were fulfilling our God-given duty.
Also, we will first think of the love and mercy of God for the souls and that God does not want them to be destroyed, even though He is going to punish them for their sins.
Then, what kind of prayer would we offer to God?
We will probably say from the depth of the heart, “God, it is my fault. It was me who didn’t guide them better. Give them one more chance in consideration of my behalf.”
It’s the same in all the other aspects.
Those who are faithful will not just think, “I’ve done enough,” but they will work overflowingly with all their heart.
In 2 Corinthians 12:15 Paul said, “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?”
Namely, he was not coerced to take care of the souls nor did he do it superficially.
He took great joy in fulfilling his duty and that is why he said he would be expended for other souls.
He offered himself again and again with complete devotion for other souls.
As he said, it is true faithfulness if we can fulfill our duty overflowingly with joy and love.
Second, the kind of faithfulness recognized by God is to be faithful in the truth.
Suppose somebody joined a gang and dedicated his life to the boss of the gang.
Will God say he is faithful? Of course not!
God can recognize our faithfulness only when we are faithful in goodness and truth.
And the most important thing to be faithful in the truth is the circumcision of the heart.
Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Here, to be faithful until death does not just mean we have to work hard and faithfully until our physical death.
It means we try to accomplish the word of God in the 66 books of the Bible with all our life.
First of all, we have to cast away sins to the point of shedding blood and keep the commandments of God.
As Paul said ‘I die daily,’ we have to put our flesh to death completely and become sanctified. This is spiritual faithfulness.
What God the Father desires of us the most is holiness. We have to realize this point and do our best in circumcising our hearts.
Of course, it doesn’t mean we cannot assume any duties before we become completely sanctified.
It means whatever duty we are carrying on right now, we have to do it along with accomplishing holiness.
Those who continuously circumcise their hearts will not have changes of attitude in their faithfulness.
Even in actual difficulties that occur or some trials of the heart, they will not give up their precious duty just because of it.
On the other hand, if we neglect circumcision of our hearts, we won’t be able to keep our heart when we are faced with difficulties and hardships.
We may forsake the relationship of trust with God and give up our duty.
In a year’s period of time, some people do their duty diligently for part of the time but neglect it during the remainder of the year.
They diligently fulfill their duties for some time, but then they can’t even be seen for several months at a time.
Then, if they recover the grace of God, they work hard again for a while and this cycle goes on and on.
Those workers who have fluctuations like this cannot be recognized to be faithful, even though they may do their jobs well.
To have the faithfulness acknowledged by God, we must have the spiritual faithfulness as well, which means we have to circumcise our hearts.
But circumcising our heart in itself does not become our rewards.
Circumcision of heart is a must for children of God who are saved.
But if we cast away sins and fulfill our duties with a sanctified heart, we can bear much greater fruit than when we fulfill them with fleshly mind. Therefore, we will receive much greater rewards.
For example, suppose you work hard with sweat all day on Sunday, but you had quarrels with many other people.
You broke peace with many people, and if you serve the church with complaining and resentment, so much of your rewards will be subtracted.
But if you serve the church with goodness and love having peace, all your work will be an aroma acceptable to God, and each of your deeds will become your reward.
Third, the kind of faithfulness recognized by God is to work according to the master’s will.
In the church, we have to work according to the heart and will of God.
Also, we have to be faithful obeying our leaders according to the order within the church.
Proverbs 25:13 says, “Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.”
Even though we are very diligent in our duty, we cannot quench the desire of the heart of the master if we just do what we want.
For example, suppose the master directed his worker to do the housekeeping work, but this worker went out to the field and worked all day. Then, even though he worked so hard, he is not a faithful worker.
The reason why we do not obey the master’s will is either because we follow our own ideas, or because we have self-centered motives.
This kind of person may seem to be serving his master, but he is not actually doing it with faithfulness.
He is only following his own thoughts and desires, and he can forsake the master’s will any time.
In the Bible we read about a person named Joab, who was a relative and the general of the army of David.
Joab was with David through all the dangers while he was being chased by King Saul.
He had wisdom and he was valiant. He managed the things that David wanted to be done.
When he attacked the Ammonites and took their city, he practically conquered it and let David come and take it himself.
He did not take the glory of conquering the city but let David take it.
He served David so very well this way, but David was not very comfortable with him.
It was because his service was not from the bottom of the heart.
Joab did not hesitate to act insolently before David when he wanted to achieve his goal.
When it was beneficial for himself, he disobeyed David.
For example, general Abner, who was an enemy of David, came to David surrendering to him.
David welcomed him and sent him back.
It was because David could stabilize the people more quickly by accepting him.
But when Joab found out this fact later, he followed Abner and killed him.
It was because Abner had killed Joab’s brother in a previous battle.
He knew David would be in a difficult situation if he had killed Abner, but he just followed his emotions.
Also, when David’s son rebelled against David, David asked the soldiers who were going to fight with the men of Absalom to treat his son with kindness.
Having heard this order, Joab just killed Absalom.
Maybe it was because if they let Absalom live, he could have rebelled again, but after all, Joab disobeyed the king’s order at his own discretion.
Even though he went through all the difficult times with the king, he disobeyed the king at crucial moments, and David could not trust him.
Finally, Joab rebelled against King Solomon, David’s son, and was put to death.
At this time too, rather than obeying the will of David, he wanted to set the person whom he thought was right as the king.
He served David all throughout his life, but he did not become a meritorious retainer but ended his life as a rebel.
When we do God’s work, rather than how hard we do the work, the more important thing is whether we are following the will of God.
When we work in the church, we should also follow our leaders before we follow our own ideas.
Fourth, the kind of faithfulness that God wants is faithfulness in all God’s house.
In Numbers 12:7, God says about Moses, “He is faithful in all My household.”
To be faithful in all God’s household means be to faithful in all aspects related with the person.
In the church, we have to fulfill all our responsibilities when we have many duties.
Even though we don’t have a particular duty in the church, it is one of our duties to be present where we are supposed to be present as a member.
Not only in the church, but in places of work and school, everyone has their duties.
In all these aspects, we have to fulfill our duties as the members.
To be faithful in all God’s house is to be faithful as God’s children and as leaders or members of the church, of the family, in the work place, or in school.
We should not be faithful only in one or two duties but neglect other duties. We have to be faithful in all aspects.
Is there anyone who thinks, “I have only one body and how can I be faithful in all the areas?”
But to the extent that we cast off flesh and change into spirit, it is not something difficult to be faithful in all God’s household.
Even though we invest just a little time, we can surely reap the fruit if we sow in spirit.
Also, those who have changed into spirit do not follow their own benefit and comfort but think about other’s benefit and view things from the stand point of others first.
Thus, such people will take care of all their duties even if they must sacrifice themselves.
Also, to the extent to which we go into spirit, our heart will be filled with goodness. And if we are good we will not incline towards only one particular side.
Even if we have many duties, we will not neglect some of the duties while fulfilling other duties well.
We will do our best to take care of all our surroundings, trying to care for others a little more.
Then, people around us will feel the truthfulness of our heart. So, they will not be disappointed because we cannot be with them all the time but they will rather be thankful that we care for them.
For example, one person has two duties, and she is the leader in one of the groups and just a member in the other.
At this time, if she has goodness and if she bears the fruit of faithfulness, she will not neglect either one of them.
She will not just think, “the members of the latter group will understand me for not being with them because I am the leader of the former group.”
If she cannot be physically be with the latter group, she will try to be some kind of help to that group in other ways and in the heart.
If she doesn’t do that, she will feel sorry before God and others by herself.
Likewise, we can be faithful in all God’s household and have peace with everybody to the extent that we have goodness.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Joseph was sold as a slave into the house of Potiphar, the captain of the Royal bodyguard.
And Joseph was so faithful and trustworthy that Potiphar left all of the work in the house with this young servant and did not care about what he did.
The kingdom of God also needs many faithful workers like Joseph in many areas.
If I entrust to you a certain duty, and you fulfill it so faithfully that I don’t have to look after it at all, then, how great strength you will be for the kingdom of God!
Though he served a physical master, Joseph worked faithfully with his faith in God.
God did not take it to be meaningless, but instead He made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt.
And the faithfulness we have in the Lord is to accomplish the kingdom of God and to save so many souls.
Therefore, how great rewards we will receive in the kingdom of heaven?
Psalm 101:6 says, “My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.”
I urge you to bear the fruit of faithfulness in heart and walk in the blameless way.
In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will become workers who are like pillars of the kingdom of God and I pray for you to enjoy the honor of ministering before God.