Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These words float around church in discussion, sermons, wall art and with the phrase “Fruit of the Spirit.” This is more than just a list of attributes and virtues. The Fruit of the Spirit is a very important and dynamic part of the life of a Christian.
First things first, what is the Fruit of the Spirit? The phrase “Fruit of the Spirit” comes from Galatians 5:22-23. Paul is talking about how the Holy Spirit lives inside every Christian. When a Christian has a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, there are attributes to our personality that develop because of that relationship. The Fruit of the Spirit is more than just an emotion; it is a lifestyle that comes from a relationship with Jesus
Love is the first and greatest of all the Fruits of the Spirit. Jesus says in John 13:35 that “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV) 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes it as, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Paul later says that the greatest of things is love. Not only is love the greatest thing we are given, all of the Fruit of the Spirit are encompassed in love.
“…it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth…”
Joy doesn’t just mean happiness. Happiness is an emotion and joy is a perspective of life. It doesn’t mean that as a Christian you can not feel sad or discouraged or have dark times in your life. It just means that even in those dark times you know that it will end, and that you’ll still be able to find pleasure in life. Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Joy is in the love that God shows to us in the good and bad times in life.
“…it is not irritable or resentful…”
Peace is one Fruit that Jesus explicitly says He will give to us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Peace is not just an emotion. It’s a perspective on life, just like joy. It means that your life is always founded on Jesus, especially when you’re afraid or distraught. Peace is found in the love of Jesus when life feels perfect and when life feels far from perfect.
“Love is patient…”
Patience is a lifestyle. Being patient could look like many different things. It could be not lashing out against a friend when you become angry, but instead trying to empathize with them. It could mean watching Frozen over and over and over and over with your little sister. Patience provides you with the chance to gain endurance through frustrating times so that you can grow spiritually. Proverbs 16:32, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city”. Patience brings strength into your life, just like love.
Kindness can be displayed in many ways. Generosity, hospitality, listening, forgiveness and encouraging are all ways to be kind to one another. Kindness may seem like a general attribute, but remember that God demonstrated kindness to us through Jesus. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” God is kind to us because He loves us.
“…Love never ends…”
Goodness can also seem like a general attribute, but James 1:17 says that, “ Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Everything good comes from God, and He even brings good things out of the bad. He continually loves us through the ups and downs of life.
“…Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…”
Faithfulness is one of the most important, defining Fruit listed. We live in a society that values instant and fleeting gratification. Being faithful to God, your family, God’s calling on your life, spouse and friends are very unique to Christianity. Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Being faithful to one another is an example of God’s unfailing love for us.
“…Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude…”
Gentleness is often seen as a weakness instead of a strength in our society, but that is far from the truth. While there are times to be straight-forward, blunt, strong and gutsy (Esther 5:1-4), there’s a special strength in gentleness (Luke 10:41-42). Approaching things with gentleness let’s people know that they can trust you, and maybe that they can trust the God that makes you gentle.
“…It does not insist on its own way…”
Self-control is the last Fruit of the Spirit listed. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Self-control helps all the Fruit grow, as well as keeps you away from sin.
The Fruit of the Spirit is an example of the Holy Spirit making His followers better people, and more importantly, making them into a reflection of Himself. As you saw, the Fruit of the Spirit are all encompassed in love, and the Bible says that God is love. So by displaying the Fruits of the Spirit, you display God.