Introduction to the Fruit of the Spirit
Romans 5:1-5; 12:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:1-6:20; 2 Peter 1:3-9
What does the work and empowerment of the Spirit mean to you?
What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
The Fruit of the Spirit is God's love and work in us, the love of Christ flowing in through His Holy Spirit in and out of us! All because we have a personal relationship with Christ, we have God's living presence in us, living in us. The result is we have the ability to reflect His Fruit and character. In addition, this is a moral obligation on our part to live out our New Life in Christ effectively. This then becomes our visible evidence of our relationship and growth in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that is contagious and affects others. We display Christ by our manner, demeanor, and temperament. Thus, the Fruit we make becomes the influence and the display case of His transforming power. We do not do this alone; He gives us the Holy Spirit, God's active love and work within and through us so we bear and convey His attributes of Fruit and character. This means we "cultivate," add to as in supplement His Fruit, God's empowering love for us, which we are given and then we are to continue to build up by our faith development so we are able to pass this on to others (Isa. 27:6; Hos. 10:1; 14:8; Matt. 3:8; Rom. 6:22; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:11).
This Fruit cultivation and production by our walk in Him creates and sets the tone for our behaviors and conduct with one another. This shows off our Lord; as we know Him, we make Him known just by our attitude. This is a cooperative endeavor that happens by our growing and close intimate relationship with Christ. As we grow by faith, which is our devotion, trust, obedience and conviction in Him, we make more and better Fruit. All this by what we add to, and what He then multiplies. Just like adding yeast to dough makes it grow, but in our case it is not meager air, it is The Hoy Spirit at work in us. This synergy of our faith in Christ is to facilitate our active pursuit of Love as a spiritual Fruit that is built from our wondrous and incredible collaboration that we have with God to produce real, godly commitment, conviction, and the demonstration of our obedience. This is what helps form our character and mature, effectual Christian life. It gives us the fiber of our moral center that stretches throughout our being, embracing and holding our relationships and opportunities together when it is sealed as a choice and commitment, and not just a feeling. The Fruit of the Spirit will synergistically combine with the other godly characteristics of our Lord to promote our ability to relate and grow in our personal faith. In so doing, we grow in our relationships, to be better to and for Him as well as others and ourselves. This is the essential essence that builds healthy families, marriages, and relationships in general, as well as healthy churches-all because we are modeling Christ! We become His display case (John 1:1,14; 14:23; Gal. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 John 4:8; 14-15).
The Fruit of the Spirit is described as a fruit because it is made up of more than one substance. Just like any fruit from a tree, such as an apple or an orange, it has juice, pulp, peel, core, segments, and seeds, all held together by a skin or rind, and attached to the tree by a stem where its nutrients flow in. So it is with our relationship in Christ. If you just eat of the pulp or juice and throw out the rest, how can you grow more without the seeds? If you take the fruit off the vine and do not use it, no nutrients will flow in and thus it will wither and rot. If the vine is not cared for, the tree will die. So it is with the Fruit of the Spirit, and so it is with our relationship with Christ as well as our relationships with others for the faith. God makes it and it requires the efforts of our fostering this spiritual development from our growth of faith that necessitates our tending. It is more than just one substance; all of its substances combined are greater than the sum of its parts creating "synergy" of faith. Thus, the Fruit of the Spirit is the physical, empowering essence from our healthy, growing relationship with the Holy Spirit that gives us the active application of a transformed life that showcases who Christ is as well as inspires and affects others. In order to become more mature believers and build healthier churches, we must learn and understand these essential attributes (Hab. 2:4; John 15; Rom. 12; Phil. 2:13).
How many Fruit(s) of the Spirit's are there?
Is it "Fruit" of the Spirit or is it "Fruits" of the Spirit? There are nine or more fruits, so it must be a plural? Yes and no; in the Greek language, it is referred to as "singular," meaning one Fruit. In classic Reformed and Evangelical theology, it is listed as both (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church the definitive work and many other references too), but the singular is the more correct way to refer to it. Then there is the number; is it nine, twelve, or more? Catholics add modesty, continence, and chastity, which they get from the Latin Vulgate translation. Then 2 Peter 1 gives a slightly different listing. Basically, most biblical theologians look to the Galatians nine and the others, more than seventy total, are referred to as virtues or "characters." Let us first take a quick look at the main nine Fruit(s) of the Spirit that flow from God's work and love working in us. These all flow from love and cooperate as one in one another (Galatians 5:22-23):
The Galatian Fruits:
- Love will enable us to appreciate our brothers and sisters in the Lord and, of course, our family and others around us. Love is taking the initiative to build up and meet the needs of others, without expecting anything in return. We must allow love to be the foundation of our relationships-the love of our Lord that He gives us. Love manifests patience and kindness and it is not greedy or jealous; it is not prideful nor brags of one's accomplishments. It is not rude or self-seeking, and it allows one not to be easily angered. By this, we do not keep record of others wrongs or enjoy it when bad things happen to others; rather, we rejoice with others to build them up. Love always looks after others, shows trust, hope, and always carries on. Love encapsulates the purpose and role of Fruit, and thus, our furthermost goal, as followers of Christ, is to do all things in love (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:3-8; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 4:16).
- Joy is our focus on Christ as Lord; this allows us to enjoy our relationship with Him, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others. Joy in James refers to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling, even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. It is realizing the sovereignty of God and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out! Joy helps us understand God's perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Joy is not happiness, because we may not be content and pleased with it; rather, joy is hope. It is our real hope. It is not a meager wish; rather, it is the unshakable confidence of our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us (Psalm 32:7-9; 34:1-8; Proverbs 15:13; John 15:11; 17:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Peter 4:13- 19; Hebrews 10:34; 12:2; James 1:1-4)!
- Peace is surrendering and yielding ourselves to the Lord to be in His control, for He is our ultimate peace! In so doing, tranquility will be our tone, control, and our composure. This will be fueled from our harmonious relationship with God-handing over control of our hearts, will, and minds to Him. We are willing to make peace with others because we have found peace with God. Thus, we can live at peace with our neighbors, proclaiming serenity and rekindling it when it goes down or is lost. Peace is unity, which is more important than just resolving trivial disagreements. Our focus must be on edifying and encouraging-such things, unfortunately, rare in the church today! We will either lift people up or bring them down, something we need to know so as to pursue peace and harmony and not let the childish and petty things of life divide us. Our focus must be on keeping our own accounts straight and not worrying or interfering with others. This helps make us peacemakers. Once we make real peace with God, we will be able to make and maintain peace with others. When we are at peace with God, we need to be at peace with ourselves emotionally, and others relationally (Isaiah. 26:3; Matthew 5:9; Luke 19:42; John 14:27; 16:33; Romans 5:1; 12:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7).
- Patience, in some translations is called Longsuffering; this calls for showing tolerance and fortitude toward others, even accepting difficult situations with them-and God-without making demands or conditions. Patience is our "staying power." It is like perseverance and the endurance to not give up; it is about actively overcoming our situation-not just sitting, accepting, and doing nothing! It allows us to endure a less than desirable situation, to make us better, more useful, and even optimistic and prudent. Hence, its other name, longsuffering. It allows us to put up with others who "get on our nerves" without losing other characteristics of grace (Hosea 2:19-23; Psalm 33:20; Matthew 27:14; Romans 5:3; 12:12; Galatians 5:1; 5:22-23; Colossians 1:11; James 1:3-4,12; 5:10-11).
- Kindness is the medium through which Christ's love becomes real, tangible, and knowable through us. It is the application of sincere love that manifests itself in practicing benevolence and a loving attitude towards others. Kindness is the essence that shows the world we are Christians, like the fragrance coming from a beautiful flower. It is being convicted with God's Word, and then modeling it to others. Being charitable is an aspect of good positive relationships of others, and a "MUST" part of the Christian experience and duty! Kindness is the subject to the object of who we are in Christ. This is something we replicate as we are kind, and also respond in kindness to others, our response to one another fuels the other's response, and so forth. In this way, we will be escalating love and kindness instead of repression and dysfunction (Romans 2:1-4; 12:9-21; 2 Corinthians 6:6-7; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!
- Goodness is the engagement of love that shows the application of Christ, His righteousness, and Truth. This models it to others in the action of love, making Christ and us attractive and inviting. This is God at work in our faith, so we are synergized with His power and then engage it to others. This is the fruit that makes people liked by and even lovable to others. This displays integrity, honesty, and compassion to others, and allows us to do the right thing. It is doing the right thing, even when it does not feel like we should, as Joseph did. He was betrayed and sold as a slave, yet, he chose to make his situation into something good, and to help and treat others better than he needed to. Why are we to be good? Because God is good to us (Psalm 86:5; 145:4-13)! Goodness is the model for people to repent and accept Christ (Amos 5:15; Proverbs 25:22; Matthew 19:16; Romans 12:17; Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 5:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 1 Peter 3:11; 2 Peter 1:3-8).
- Faithfulness is the application of our faith in action; because we are saved by Christ, He dwells in our hearts. Thus, we are infused with dependability because as we praise His name, it hits home in our being. It is not faith itself; rather, it is the fruit and character of faith. It is the "gluing" fruit that will preserve our faith and the other characters of the Spirit, and identify God's will, so we can be dependable and trusting to God and others. Faith is the one fruit that we give back to God, whereas faithfulness and the other fruits, virtues, and characters are from the Spirit working in us! Faithfulness is authenticity that is so absent today and so badly needed to show the power and motivation for Christian living. Because God is trustworthy with us, we can be faith-worthy in Him (Psalm 119: 89-90; Isaiah 25:1; Matthew 17:19; 25:21; Romans 1:17; 5:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 3:16-17; Hebrews 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:24)!
- Gentleness, sometimes referred to as Meekness, is the fruit that will show calmness, personal care, and tenderness in meeting the needs of others. It is to be more than just a personality; it is to be who we are by the work of the Spirit within us. This is not weakness or a lack of strength; rather, it is being humble and gentle toward God and others. This also means being nonresistant to God and His work in us. Gentleness produces a desire and effort to please God and to submit our will and aspirations to His will and what is best. By keeping our focus on Christ with humility, we can endure being personally attacked (Psalm 37:11; Isaiah. 40:11; 42:2-3; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 4: 5; Matthew 5:5; 11:29; 12:15; Ephesians 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:7).
- Self-Control, sometimes referred to as Temperance, is allowing God to be in control of our will and hearts, and to be diligent in seeking the Spirit to enable us. We can know what not to do, and guard the areas in which we are weak. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint, with obedience to God and others. It is not allowing distractions to derail or remove us from His will and plan, so we will not be held back from what Christ has called us to do. This comes down to how we trust in our Lord, we can trust God for the future because we can see what He has done in the past (Proverbs 16:32; 25:28; Romans 13: 12-14; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 9:25-27; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Hebrews 12:2; 2 Peter 1:5-7).
The "extra" 2 Peter Fruits:
The order of the Fruits in Second Peter differs from the one in Galatians 5, because they not listed as comprehensive or in a sequential order like in Galatians where each one is a stage that begets the next one. Rather, in Second Peter, they are arranged in rhetorical "sorites," a type of argument that uses syllogisms to build to the climax of the most important one, love. Each end is a "bookend" that holds the others; faith is what we all start with. It is the foundation. Then others build to the pre-eminent, essential significance of what love is, the quintessential fruit of the Christian life.
- Righteousness, in this context, refers to God being Righteous, thus He is ethical and fair in His dealings with us so we can be fair with others. Also, in Peter, the word used to refer to people who are righteous means virtuous and of good character. Faith is impartial in its acceptance; it sees no race, creed, culture, time, place, or person, for we are purely justified by His will and purpose, which He vicariously placed upon us (Rom. 3:22-23; 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:24; 4:18; 2 Pet. 2:5, 21; 3:13).
- Knowledge means the fundamental saving knowledge we need in order to know whom Christ is before He can be our Savior (Matt. 11:27). This refers to what is true and real and that God can only be known through Christ; the more we know His precepts, the more we can grow. It denounces what is esoteric, manipulating, or counterfeit. Peter uses this word as a baseline of truth to attack false doctrine. The Christian message, if it is real in our lives, will affect our attitudes, disposition, and lifestyles (Luke 11:42; 18:10-14; John 1:18; 14:1-6; Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Pet. 1:2-3, 8; 2:20).
- Godliness a synopsis of character that shows our attitude and moral fiber means living out our disposition with respect and reverence to Christ in all aspects of our life. This is about how we are to others, how we treat one another, either good or bad. We are called to virtue; this refers to being pious and living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us. It is a response from our worship of Christ with an authentic desire to know Him in a greater way. It creates our desire to be pious, which means to rearrange our priorities, mindsets, and character to line up with God's character and be able to see the importance of virtue, therefore becoming equipped to use it to value others. We rearrange our priorities, mindsets, and character to line up with God's character, so to see the importance of virtue and then be equipped to use it to value others. Godliness is a collection of personality traits within our personality that show our attitude, moral fiber, and how we treat one another-good or bad-which is what Character is. This results from being pious and living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us (Psalm 15; Micah 6:8; Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Eph. 5:1; Col. 3:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:8; 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:3, 6; 3 John 11; Rev 14:6).
- Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Christ is what we hope for; Christ is what is to be seen! Peter tells us that, a faith as precious, Received a faith, a faith of equal standing... Faith is the promise of God that gives us the hope and confidence so we can receive, act on, obey, and trust God's promises, because God is sovereign and trustworthy. Real faith is subjective to each person's experience, and is to be true and valuable. Each person grows at a different rate and depth. It also refers to the body of believers (as in Church) who share in a common belief and practice; there are no different castes or classes for those in Christ! The theme is that there is one faith through Christ, and all are on an equal playing field before Christ. There may be varying levels of growth and maturity, but all are equally accepted (John 20:29; Jude 3; 1 John 3:1-3). We can trust God for the future because we can see what He has done in the past-from creation, to testimonies, to His infallible Word (Rom. 10:17; Gal. 3:1-14; Heb. 2:4; 11: 1-6; 12:2; James 1:2-4; 2:14-26).
- Virtue, in some translations, is Goodness, and refers to moral excellence, the engagement of love, and doing the right thing. Virtue is the application of being good from both the conscious will to do what is right and from personal responsibility. It encompasses integrity, honesty, compassion, and endearment, quintessential qualities of biblical Character (that is right standards, strength, courage, modesty, and purity all done in excellence). We acquire Virtue by our faith, our obedience to Christ, being persistent in Him, and clothing ourselves in Him. This is what results when we truly repent; we represent the nobility that we have in Christ (Amos 5:15; Psalm 103:17; 131; Prov. 8:13; 25:22; Matthew 7:12; 19:16; Luke 6:27, 35; Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 5:8-9; Col. 3:12-17; Phil. 2:14-18; 4:8; 1Timothy 4:12; 5:22; Tit.1: 15; Heb.10: 5-10; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 1:3-8; 2:9).
- Perseverance is having confidence in God so we trust Him in difficult situations and still see His grace and love. We exercise it when we continue in our state of grace so we live it out in our lives and walk with Christ to the end for our eternal reward! Perseverance occurs in our journey of faith, allowing it to be lived it out in our personal lives. We can do this by being encouraging with Christ-like temperament. Whatever we face and/or go through, our Lord is there and we are in His arms. When we realize this fact, we can persevere through anything because our Lord, King, and Creator of the universe is there to carry us through (2 Chron. 32:1-8; Esther 7; Luke 16:22-31; 18:9; Acts 19:8-10; 26:19-23; Rom. 15:14-16; Phil. 1:6; 12-14, 25; 2 Tim. 2:25; Hebrews 12:1-3).
- Brotherly kindness, sometimes translated as affection, means love for a brother or friend (in the Greek, Philadelphia). It is a call to treat others as family because we are all in God's family. This means to have kind affection toward one another, as in be devoted, to look out and look after each other, and to give preference to one another, because there are no inferior or superior people in the Kingdom of God, just those with different calls, abilities, and opportunities! This type of Kindness is the proof of authenticity that creates an environment of trust and encouragement, so that people will want to be with us, join our church, and belong as a Christian (Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1).
- Love is the turning of our backs to our self-concerns, and facing God and our neighbors. It will enable us to appreciate others in the Lord. Love desires to seek and apply what God has to say. When you have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all areas of your life. Understanding what love is not is as important as understanding what love is not. God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return flow out from us to those around us (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Cor. 13; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 1 John)!
In addition there is:
- Humility, which is how we are to come to the Lord and display His temperament as He walked the earth. This minimizes arrogance and removes pride. It is the understanding of our fallen nature and weaknesses that causes us to think we are better than we are, and that causes us to strive to lift ourselves above others and God. It is admitting that others, and most importantly God, are responsible for our achievements. Humbleness will enable us to be a teachable person who is willing to have a good attitude of submission and servant-hood, a person who confesses sin and remembers how Christ served us! Humility is not self-hatred or having a "poor me" attitude(1 Kings 8:58; Psalm 25; Luke 22:27; Col. 1:18; Phil. 2:8; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:3-5).
- Compassion will allow us to feel the pain and plight of others, to see from their perspective and situation in life. It will enable us to convey a deep feeling of love and concern that moves us to meet their distresses, struggles, and needs. True Compassion is a result of the poured out life that has been devoted to God and attached to His interests. It will also make us more confident of our Lord and His working within and through us. This all flows from our understanding of who God is, and our obedience, trust in, and gratitude for what He has done for us. Our lives must be motivated by who we are in Christ, and nothing else (Job 29:13; Isa. 40:11; Mark 1:41; Luke 10:25-37; 19:4; Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:12-16; 1 Peter 3:8)!
- Forgiveness, we are called to forgive freely, as Christ has forgiven us. We must be willing to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. We must be willing to bear the cost, just as our LORD did. Forgiveness demands a substitution. So, how could we ever back away from forgiving each other? If we do, it is a bigger insult to our LORD than for the non-Christian to turn his or her back on His Grace-because we know better. Remember, knowledge brings responsibility. Forgiveness is absolutely crucial for any relationship to continue, and critical in resolving any conflict! Remember how much you have been forgiven; do not fail to show it to others! Remember, God does not treat us the way we tend to treat others (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; 1 Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 3:12-14).
Plus sixty more: see our Character channel.
We are called to Put on this, a call to take on the character of Jesus and put it on us, while we put off the vices that hinder us. Don't worry that we cannot do this on our own; He imparts to us the power and ability to do so though His work and the Spirit! It is something we do not force to come about; rather it happens naturally as we learn and grow in Christ, then His character envelopes us as we take on the new identity of a person not only saved by grace but empowered and shaped by Him. If we just live our lives with the attitude of how things affect "me" and not "others," then we are living "with" the devil, and not "with" God! It is essential as Christians to demonstrate His love in how we relate to both for God and then to others (Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 4:1-6, 22-24; Philippians 2:1-6).
How is this done?
Simply put by Paul, we achieve this by allowing the Word of Christ and His presence to dwell in us, and learn His instruction, so the peace of Christ rules our hearts and minds, translating into actions. It is all about our spiritual growth impacting us so it impacts others positively and in love (Col. 1:15; 2:3; 3:1-11)!
Take a close look at each of the fruits listed. Which ones are you exhibiting well? Which ones do you lack? What are you going to do about the ones in which you are weak? We are called not to be ineffective or unproductive; this means we are being called to be productive and useful in the Kingdom as well as the community. If not, we are in disobedience and ignoring of His love and gifts for us. Why would a Christian not want to be productive for the Kingdom (Phil. 4:8-9)?
(More in-depth descriptions and Bible study on each one on our The Fruit of the Spirit channel.)
© 2000, 2008 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org