A new Christian should hope to exemplify the Lord Jesus Christ by honoring Him with their life. According to the apostle Paul, believers that live and walk in the Spirt, will be fruitful. Galatians 5:22-23, provides us with the fruit of the Spirit or the blueprint for how we ought to live our lives. If the spirit is at work in the life of the believer, his fruit will be manifested as “the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,” John 15:4.
Why Fruit of the Spirit and Not Fruits of the Spirit?
Nine traits are listed but the bible uses “fruit”. Fruit comes from the Greek word καρπός. When translated it means acts and deeds. The fruit of the spirit is given to the believer as a singular package, rather than separate individual packages, though some may argue that each grows at a different rate.
Our goal should be to be more Christ-like: forgiving one another, loving unconditionally and bringing others to him. It is only when we abide in the vine that we can be more fruitful and more like Christ who is the fullness of the Godhead.
The Meaning of the Fruit of the Spirit
There are several biblical translation of the fruit of the spirit passage in Galatians 5:22-23. NLT records “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. The NIV translates them as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”, whilst the KJV has “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law”.
Love encompasses the entire Christian experience and relationship with the creator. Christ’s death on the cross was the ultimate symbol of the love, and is best described by the Greek word agapē. 1 Corinthians 13’s records the characteristics of love is known by both Christian and non-Christian alike.
Love is more than our passions and desires; it is the greatest commandment given and one of the most difficult as Christ Jesus asked us to love our enemies. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that of all the Christian virtues, love is the greatest.
Love is therefore the primary fruit of the spirit as covers a multitude of sins.
Joy is given by the Holy Spirit and is not circumstantial. David encourages us to ‘Make a Joyful Noise Unto Lord!’ We are also reminded to rejoice in the Lord always because praises delight him.
Joy comes from being in God’s presence (Psalms 16:11) and having the spirit in us. Joy is different from happiness in that it is unspeakable and full of glory. Happiness is fleeting. Joy comes from knowing that we have his love and this confidence gives us strength to overcome evil.
Regardless of the circumstances in our lives, we can rest on the promises of God and rejoice knowing that sorrows last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
The slogan “No Jesus, No Peace” is one of those things that is known throughout world. Peace is not the absence of conflict but rather peace that transcends all understanding. It comes from having hope that there is no sting in death and that whoever believes on Jesus has everlasting life.
Jesus Christ himself said “Let not your heart be troubled” and he has promised that he has gone to prepare a place for us. Whatever circumstance we are in, we should be able to proclaim boldly “It is well with my Soul”.
Depending on the bible and its translation, patience may be listed as endurance or longsuffering. These words remind us that God’s mercy and grace never cease and that he is slow to anger. We admire Job because had a patient character, and was able to endure persecution and tribulation because he had that peace that his Redeemer lived.
Paul encourages us to rejoice in tribulation because it makes us patient. Patience builds character by helping us to endure when we feel like giving up. Only the spirit filled Christian can understand that being patient in circumstances leads to perfection (James 1:1-8).
What does it mean to be kind? Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Jesus had power, but he was still kind even on the cross.
In the Matthew 25:4 passage, he warns that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”, reminding us that our behavior should be motivated by love and service. Helping those in need is what the world expects from Christians. It is also what Christ Jesus expects of us as he helped and interacted with all sorts of people in his Ministry.
Kindness requires selflessness, a virtue that most of us need to pray for. It is not easy to be a Good Samaritan in a world of robbers. God’s expectation is that we show mercy to all men regardless of the circumstances.
The bible tells us that there is none good, not one. Why is goodness a fruit of the Holy Spirit? Though none is good, we are to be perfect as Christ is perfect. By modelling Christ, we can bring others to salvation.
The bible tells us in Proverbs that a virtuous (good) woman was one who feared the Lord. Psalms 31:19 reminds us that God has goodness in store for those who fear him. We only need to taste and see that the he is good.
One can only be faithful if he has faith. God wants our faith, devotion and loyalty. If we are faithful to God, he has promised to make us masters over greater things. Whenever Israel was faithful to God, Israel saw his power at work.
God expects faithfulness from us because he is faithful and keeps his covenant. His word tells us we should not get weary of well doing for we will reap if we faint not. Faithfulness requires patience and love. We need to be steadfast, unmovable and abounding in the work of the Lord.
Faithfulness also requires actions. If consistently join our brethren for worship and diligently work unto the Lord, our labor will not be in vain.
God values gentleness, humility and obedience. We have the biblical example in Psalms 78:71- 72 where “God prepared David and took this gentle shepherd-king and presented him before the people as the one who would love and care for them with integrity, a pure heart”. God used a gentle person to be king over his people.
The world may see gentleness as a weakness but it is actually a strength. Gentleness means that we love and are able to hold a still tongue. Spiritual gentleness isn’t shying away from declaring or sharing truth. It is also not selfish nor self-serving a moral most lack.
The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We are in this world but not of it and a lack of discipline will keep us from bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Self-Control is an exhaustive topic in the bible, but generally speaks to living pure lives.
Jesus was tempted by worldly things and was able to overcome it with the word of God. However, the OT man lacked the ability to exercise control against such things and was not in control of his fleshly desires. This is because he did not have the Holy Spirit to guide him to all truth. But we who believe have that living hope!
What happens if we are not bearing fruit?
The gospels say that we will be known by our fruit and that anyone who does not bear will be cut off.
Why is it Important to Bear Fruit?
How can we bring others to Christ if we do not possess the fruits of the spirit? God does not ask us to possess traits that he does not have.
Salvation is not cut and dry. Each man is called to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling.
Not all Fruit is Good
In Matthew 15, Jesus made it clear that man was not defiled by what he eats, but by what came out of him. In other words, a person’s actions defiles them. Prior to listing the fruit of the spirit, the Apostle Paul also listed the works of the flesh that were contrary to the Spirit.
How can we bear fruit?
Growth is an active process that requires energy. Christians grow when they read the word and pray. This requires self-control, and discipline. If we delight ourselves in the Lord, he will give us the desire of our hearts.
How does the Holy Spirit Help?
The Holy Spirit keeps our hearts fertile
So that we can yield good fruit
He works through us
He finishes the good work that was started in us.