A Fruit a Day…Being Faithful

Over the past few weeks, we have walked through a selection of virtues from one of my favorites verses. Today, we are going to tackle the virtue of faithfulness.

Image courtesy of adamr@freedigitalphoto.net
Image courtesy of adamr@freedigitalphoto.net

Merriam Webster Definitions and Synonyms of Faithful

  • having or showing true and constant support or loyalty
  • firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty
  • steadfast in affection or allegiance
  • constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, loyal, steadfast

Greek and Hebrew words for Faithfulness

The ancient Greek word for faithfulness is pistis In the context in which it was used by Paul in Galatians 5:22, the meaning of faithfulness connoted reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. Pistis can also refer to faith (as in a doctrine or religious belief) and God’s faithfulness towards us. The Hebrew word for faithfulness is bittachon which connotes a sense of trust, safety and security.

Favorite Verses on Faithfulness

  • Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, extend to the skies, and Your faithfulness to the clouds”. Psalm 36: 5
  • Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart“. Proverbs 3:3

Final thoughts on Faithfulness

I really enjoyed researching the concept of faithfulness because it encompasses such a vast entity of human relationships as well as our relationship with God. What I learned from studying this topic is that God’s faithfulness towards us (as demonstrated by his compassion, mercy, forgiveness, blessings, love and grace) is something to be emulated by us in our interactions with other people. There are so many ways to demonstrate faithfulness through our loyalty, integrity, trustworthiness, reliability and dependability.

I also think of faithfulness as an enduring quality that gives a sense of commitment over the long-term despite the circumstances. When I think of a faithful friend or family member, I think of someone who has been there for me through my ups and downs and who has not given up on me even in my weak moments. I thank God for these people and for His enduring faithfulness to me even when I did not deserve it!

A Fruit a Day…Demonstrating Goodness

Welcome back to our study on the fruits of the Spirit! So far we have covered love, joy, peace, forbearance and kindness. Today, we are going to take a look at the virtue of goodness.

Merriam Webster Definitions and Synonyms of Goodness

  • excellence of morals and behavior
  • character, decency, morality, honesty, integrity, probity, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness

Definition of Goodness from Strong’s Concordance

  • intrinsic goodness, especially as a personal quality, with stress on the kindly (rather than the righteous) side of goodness

Greek word for Goodness and the various shades of meaning

The ancient Greek word for goodness is agathosune It has a similar meaning to the Greek word for kindness (chréstotés) however ‘goodness’ has a more active and driven connotation. Goodness has an assertive sense to it because an individual behaves based on their own personal moral values. They are therefore likely to feel more strongly about a situation that goes against their principles (for example, seeing others experience injustice or suffering) and do something about it.

Interestingly, the Bible also describes goodness as the capacity to correct each other (another inkling into the more assertive aspect of goodness). This makes sense because if I am really looking out for someone, I would want to respectfully warn them if they are heading down a destructive path. The challenge becomes how to help without sounding accusing or self-righteous.

Interesting facts about the Greek words for goodness:

Agatha is a feminine name derived from the Ancient Greek word agathos, meaning ‘good’. It was the name of St. Agatha of Sicily, a third-century Christian martyr.

Favorite Verses on Goodness

  • As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men]…” Galatians 6:10
  • I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are filled with goodness and full of all the knowledge you need to be able to instruct each other.” Romans 15:14
  • A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things…” Matthew 12:35

Final thoughts on Goodness

My initial thought when I consider the word ‘goodness’ is a word describing a moral virtue. Goodness does not mean self-righteousness. It means making a choice that will ultimately benefit someone else. It is being virtuous without ulterior motives. Self-righteousness is by nature self-focused and prideful however goodness looks outwardly and says “how will my decision affect someone else?” Exercising goodness towards someone else can encompass many areas of life. It could be meeting a need (kindness), being true to our word (honesty), standing up for the oppressed or speaking out against discrimination (integrity). Goodness is being selfless and focusing on another person’s situation.

I am guilty of being self-centered and self-righteous at times. But I quickly remember how status didn’t matter to Jesus in the Bible. He often spent time with those who were considered the lowest in society. Conversely, the self-righteous Pharisees, even with all their knowledge and pomp, did not impress Jesus. I am constantly reminding myself that God looks at the heart, not at the exterior. Goodness culminates in a deep desire to look out for those around us without focusing on how this reflects on us. How much I still have yet to learn!
Image courtesy of bheretoday.com
Image courtesy of bheretoday.com

A Fruit a Day…What Does it Mean to be Long-Suffering?

Welcome back to our study on the fruits of the Spirit. We are almost half-way through the study, having already tackled love, joy and peace. Today we get to look at one that I find particularly difficult to achieve in my own life: FORBEARANCE.

My thoughts on Forbearance

When I think of forbearance, the first thing that comes to mind is putting up with someone or something difficult. Forbearance is not a word I use or come across often so I had take more time than usual to research this.

Merriam-Webster Definition of Forbearance

The definition of forbearance is ‘the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry‘.

Synonyms for Forbearance

Long-suffering, endurance, fortitude, living with restraint, temperance, tolerance, leniency, mercy

Greek word for Forbearance

I had an interesting discussion with my husband about this. One of the ancient Greek words used for forbearance is makrothumia which means “long-tempered” (as opposed to short-tempered). What struck me about this word is that it does not mean we are to never get angry but rather that there can be a “slowness” to becoming angry. There is an element of forethought and consideration before we react to something.  So how does this relate to the concept of forbearance or long-suffering? If we are being patient with someone who really does not deserve it, then we are challenged with the task of exercising restraint and not getting angry with them easily. So much easier said than done but it is one of the fruits of the Spirit so something I intend to work on!

The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament describes forbearance as “God delaying his wrath”. So once again, there is an element of “delay” and not acting out on our first reaction or impulse.

Favorite verses on Forbearance

  • Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” Eph. 4:2
  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone”. Col. 3:13
  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Final thoughts on Forbearance

The concept of forbearance or long-suffering is a sensitive area. It can be hard to find a balance between being patient with those who do not deserve it versus becoming a door-mat for someone. It can also be a challenge to try and put up with a difficult or inconvenient situation without getting upset or annoyed. How do we find balance? How do we know when enough is enough? I don’t think there is an easy answer to it. All I know is that I can certainly do with some improvement in this area. I get impatient with my children sometimes when I could be more tolerant of their tiredness or moodiness. It’s easy to get upset about traffic, about someone being insensitive, or about plans not unraveling as intended.  Makrothumia means not reacting angrily to the person or situation but patiently bearing it for the moment. It’s not easy, is it?

Forbearance or self-control is the ability to exercise restraint, to stay in balance. It is disciplining yourself to be measured and temperate in your response to trying circumstances. It is being patent and even keeled while enduring hardships. It is having the ability to constrain your own worst impulses and allowing thoughtful, wiser aspects of yourself to govern what you say and do. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Forbearance protects us against doing harm on impulse in the throes of anger or fear. Since so much of virtue is about finding a balance point between two kinds of excess, forbearance helps to keep us close to the center of our better selves.” –Wisdomcommons.org

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net