But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5 22-23
The Bible talks about many fruits of obedience in the Old and the New Testaments—conviction of sin, repentance, humility, etc. But Paul makes specific mentions of some attributes in Galatians as the fruit of the Spirit. This article is an exhortation on that note as we continue our walk of faith in this world.
The gifts of the Spirit are given a lot of importance in our day and age—much more than the fruit of the Spirit sometimes. But we must remember that the fruit is the proof of our salvation. It is the only visible evidence of our sanctification.
Though we are born anew in Christ, we are still human; we still struggle with sin—and Paul acknowledges this. We will continue to live in the flesh—with sin—until we are finally glorified. So the spiritual war is always on: to give in to sin, or to bear the fruit of righteousness.
First, it is important to note that the term, ‘fruit of the Spirit’, is singular. This is a clear indication that all believers are called to show all the nine virtues mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Not just any one of them—or a few we like—but all nine.
But being spiritually fruitful does not come as a result of hard work. It can be accomplished only by abiding in Jesus. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). “… I am like an evergreen cypress; from Me comes your fruit” (Hosea 14:8).
Paul lists nine attributes as the fruit of the Spirit. And love—the first one in the list—is the basis of all the other attributes. But God-like love is not something that comes out of mere emotion. It is sacrificial, by nature, and impossible by human efforts.
Jesus said, “… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). But God, the Holy Spirit, is the only source of any such love in us.
It is natural for us to be envious of someone based on haves and have-nots. It is supernatural for us to be able to exhibit Christ-like love instead. That’s why such love only flows from a person whose heart has been—and continues to be—transformed by the Spirit.
When we bear the fruit of the Spirit, one of the effects it has is to draw someone around us to the Light, to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When we truly love someone, this should be our ultimate intention and prayer for them.
Recall Jesus meeting the woman at the well in John 4. It was not culturally acceptable for Jews to have a conversation with Samaritans; they despised the Samaritans. Men—especially rabbis—would not speak to the women.
But Jesus spoke to her anyway, and with compassion. He knew everything about her—even her brokenness—but He was humble enough to ask her for a drink. Further, He ignored the cultural barriers and patiently explained the truth to her.
When we share the truth of the gospel with someone, we are loving them the best way we can. On the other hand, there are situations where we ought to be loving with our silence. Again, it is the Spirit who gives us the wisdom to discern. We don’t have to indulge ourselves in useless arguments, nor are we to proclaim the truth with an arrogant attitude.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul pushes us further on love. Notice some of the characteristics he lists: it does not envy, it does not exhibit pride, it is not self-seeking, it does not rejoice when something goes wrong, etc. And he goes on to conclude that love is above all the gifts of the Spirit.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Everyone in the world is in constant pursuit of joy. But only a few find it. As Christians, we are exhorted to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). The secret of our joy is that we find it in the Lord. “… indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:3-4).
Our joy doesn’t—or rather, shouldn’t—depend on our circumstances. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to “count it all joy… when [we] meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). In times of trouble, we can always look to Jesus, our Saviour, “… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).
To quote the words of Corrie Ten Boom, our joy, as believers, ought to run deeper than despair. Corrie and her sister praised and thanked God despite her horrifying experiences in Nazi concentration camps—as she explains in her book, ‘The Hiding Place’.
Sorrow and grief are not sinful in and of themselves (Matthew 5:4). But we are not left to handle the lowest and darkest points of our lives with our strength. “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
God wants us to bear the fruit of the Spirit always—and He works to enable us to do so. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).
Every Christian is to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. And the more we grow in Christ—the further we progress in our sanctification—the more gentle, faithful, and joyful we should be.
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