By Ian McCarty
Today is our last day talking about the Fruits of the Spirit. For our last Fruit, we are talking about faithfulness. I want to spend this time by talking about God’s faithfulness. Because in all honesty, if God wasn’t faithful, then the other Fruits wouldn’t be produced. You see, because God is faithful, Noah and his family survived, and the human race continued. Because God is faithful, Abraham’s children, the Jews, are still alive today. Because God is faithful, the Israelites were set free from their bondage in Egypt. Because God is faithful, Jesus endured the worst pain possible on the cross. Don’t think that Christ’s pain was quick. It was long, grueling, and more intense than any other pain. Nobody except Him will know the pain He went through. It was long. He could have chosen to stop the pain at any time. But He didn’t. He chose to remain faithful and to go through all that pain. For us! Remember that as we dig deeper into God’s faithfulness.
I really want us to examine Paul. Here is 2 Timothy 1:3
“I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” 2 Timothy 1:3 NIV
Paul knew his life was coming to an end. He had preached the Gospel for a long time, but he was in prison for a second time, and he wasn’t under house arrest. He was in a deep, cold, dark dungeon. Paul’s friends even had a hard time figuring out where he was being held. At first glance, the situation looks bad. I mean, Paul knew his life was almost over, and he was living out his last days in a prison! That’s terrible. On top of this, Paul wasn’t going to die due to old age. Paul was going to be killed. Because of his faith in Christ, Paul would be killed. Most believe that Paul was beheaded. That’s a scary thing, I mean, talk about persecution. Anyways, I want us to get back to 2 Timothy 1:3.
What does Paul say that he does? He remembers. Paul has three options right now. He can look to the future. If he did that, he probably would be scared. Paul knew that his end was near, and that’s a very scary thing to know. Paul’s second option was to dwell on his current situation. That one isn’t too good either, is it? I mean, Paul was living out his last days as a prisoner. That’s not a very happy situation either, and one could see how Paul could get discouraged when he focuses on his situation for too long. What is Paul’s third option? To remember. Now, I’m not saying that Paul dwelled on past mistakes and things that he wished he had done. Paul could have just as easily gotten discouraged by doing that as well. But Paul doesn’t remember mistakes. He remembers his brothers and sisters in Christ and how they have been transformed by God. He remembers how he has seen God work in the lives of others. He remembers how amazing God’s work was in the lives of others. He goes back and sees how hopeless lives were changed by God. He remembers miracles that God did. He goes back to when people were set free from chains. He remembers that God was faithful then. He remembers that God was faithful to help others. And Paul remembers that people were changed by the power of Jesus. I’ve heard it been described as a “faith flashback.” Paul was, in the eyes of the world, in a hopeless situation, but that doesn’t stop Paul from continuing to spread the Good News. He remembers what God has done, and he knows that God will not stop with those works done in the past.
God did amazing things in the lives of those that Paul remembers. I’m sure that some of their situations seemed hopeless. However, Christ brought those brothers and sisters out of the dark! Christ saved those brothers and sisters. And if you remember the amazing things Christ did, then you know that God does amazing things, even when our situations seem hopeless. Now, I’m not saying that Paul’s situation changed. Paul didn’t walk out of prison. Most historians say that Paul was beheaded. So don’t think that Paul got to run out of the prison he was in. But here’s the thing. Paul was free in his spirit. Paul may have been chained up in an earthly sense, but spiritually, Paul was soaring! Paul was free! Paul wasn’t free from pain, he still went through earthly pain. Paul wasn’t free from earthly situations, he was in prison. Paul wasn’t even free from his uncertainty. Then what was he free from? He was free from his own self. He was free from the emotions and thoughts inside his head controlling him. Yea, the depression, the anxiety, the fear, the anger, they all were attacking him. He was in prison! Paul was in a deep dark place, and that’s when the Enemy thinks that he can win. When you are at worst is when the Enemy thinks that the victory is almost his. But not Paul! Paul said “I’M FREE!” Paul was free from letting those emotions control him. Paul didn’t let his situation dictate his mindset. He chose to believe that God was faithful because he remembered that God sets our spirits free even when our situations are terrible. God is more interested in setting your spirit free than setting you free from your situation. Your situation is what everyone sees on the outside. But God looks on the inside. He looks at the real you! God is more concerned about your spirit, because your spirit is eternal. Don’t let your situation determine whether or not your spirit is in chains. Remember that God is faithful and will set your spirit free, even when your situation is bad.
Remember today what you have seen God do. Even if you have to look at what God did in others, maybe even in the lives of Bible characters. Because you remember God’s faithfulness when you see His freedom. I promise, if you keep pressing in closer to God, He will free your spirit. It may take a long time, but God doesn’t give up. He is faithful, and your spirit will soar.