23rd August 2023
Kathy Howard shares
What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
It refers to nine attributes of a Christian life inspired by the Holy Spirit living within them.
These attributes are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Each of these qualities is important for living a life that is pleasing to God.
When we seek the presence of God with humility and faith, we can experience true joy and peace from living according to God's will.
The Greek word translated as "fruit" refers to the natural product of a living thing.
Paul used "fruit" to help us understand the product of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer.
The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian.
The Greek word is singular, showing that "fruit" is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow, all the characteristics of Jesus will be manifested in our lives.
Like a successful gardener must battle against weeds, to enjoy the sweet fruit they desire, we must constantly work to rid our lives of the "weeds" of our old sinful natures that want to choke out the work of the Spirit.
As we give the Spirit more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do - to shape us and grow us to look like Jesus.
Paul uses nine characteristics to describe the fruit of the Spirit in the book of Galatians. Let's take a look at the fruit of the Spirit list and what each one means:
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
True, biblical love is a choice, not a feeling. It deliberately expresses itself in loving ways and always seeks the welfare of others.
Biblical love is dependent on the giver's character, not emotion.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we Christians tend to downplay the meaning of joy.
But, the Greek word translated as "joy" means "gladness and delight" - basically the same thing the world means when it talks about joy. It is a feeling of gladness based on our circumstances.
Sadly, the world's joy cannot last because it is based on fleeting, physical circumstances. But the joy of the Lord is established in our spiritual, eternal circumstances.
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."
The world doesn't offer much peace. Just look around.
The world cannot give it because the world doesn't know the One who is peace.
But for those who have the Spirit of peace within us, the peace of Jesus is possible.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
We don't see much patience in the world today, not even in the church.
Maybe part of the reason is our fast-paced, want-it-now culture.
But Christians have everything we need to be patient because we have the Holy Spirit living in us longing to display His character to those around us.
The New Testament also specifically connects patience with sharing the Gospel.
God is patient as He waits for the lost to come to Him and He calls His people to be patient as we extend the offer of salvation in Christ to others.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness..."
The characteristics of "kindness" and "goodness" are closely related.
Together they present the picture of one who not only possesses moral goodness and integrity, but also generously expresses it in the way they act toward others.
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
To be "faithful" is to be reliable or trustworthy. For the Christian, this is faithfulness specifically to the Saviour who redeemed us.
Closely linked to humility, gentleness is grace of the soul.
It is not weakness, but instead it is strength under control.
For instance, in Paul's second letter to Timothy, he wrote that the
"Lord's servant" will "correct his opponents with gentleness".
Gentleness, being the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest, is also a key ingredient in unity and peace within the body of Christ.
"Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
The last characteristic in Paul's description of the fruit of the Spirit points us back to his list of the "works of the flesh". Those of us with the indwelling Holy Spirit have the strength to control our sinful desires, to say "no" to our flesh. Self-control gives us the power to say "yes" to the Spirit and foster a beautiful, bountiful harvest of spiritual fruit!
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Un-edited version and Bible references avaiable, on request
Kathy Howard Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Kathy Howard helps women live an unshakeable faith for life.
The author of 8 books and a former "cultural Christian," Kathy encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God through difficulties or ease by embracing real, authentic faith. Find out more and get free discipleship tools and leader helps at www.kathyhoward.org.