If you’re a student of God’s Word, you have mostly come across the phrase, “The Fruit of the Spirit”. It’s a term found in the Book of Galatians, which is where the Apostle Paul is talking to the Churches in Galatia, who have been led astray from the Gospel of Christ and reverted back to the Law of Moses.
As Paul explains that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, he brings in the Fruit of the Spirit which is how we are to live as redeemed Children of God.
How will people learn God’s will? Jesus fulfilled God’s law on our behalf. And He lives in us through God’s Holy Spirit. When we live by Jesus’ Fruit of the Spirit, we become people of love, which fulfills God’s commandment to love others as ourselves.
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What Does Fruit of the Spirit Mean
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
To walk in the Spirit means that the Holy Spirit lives in you. You are putting your life in the continual presence in the Spirit of God. You are abiding with Jesus like a vine abides with a tree. Take a look at John 15:5 where Jesus explains the relationship between the vine and its branches. In the same way, we abide with the Holy Spirit.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5 NKJV
You have to be aware of the influence of the Holy Spirit. As a child of God, you’ll want to shape your life around the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Someone who walks in the Spirit patterns his life after Jesus Christ. It is a way of faith.
Contrary to walking in the fruit of the spirit is following the fleshly desires that are second nature to us as human beings. These are laid out in the scriptures that immediately precede our lesson verses here.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
But it’s not natural for humankind to live by faith and live a life without sin. It takes effort, but it’s doable and we’ll get to that in a bit. Keep reading. First, let’s dig into the Fruit of the Spirit.
How Many Fruits of the Spirit Are There?
There are nine attributes or characteristics that are included in the Fruit of the Spirit. They are called characteristics because they become traits of the one who follows Jesus in their life. And they are called fruit because they’re a product of the tree that they grow from, in this case, Jesus. He is the vine, we are the branches. Refer back to John 15:5.
What are the attributes of a piece of fruit? Paul references fruit in the singular, meaning they all come together to produce a single work. So when we incorporate each of the nine fruits into our life, we are living out our objective as Christians. That objective is to follow God’s will for our life. This again fulfills God’s commandment to love others as ourselves.
What is the Importance of the Fruit of the Spirit
If you look at the last half of verse 23, of our key scriptures, it says “against such there is no law.” This means that when you live by the Fruit of the Spirit, there is no need for the law. Now this is not the governing laws of our country (which we should obey), but the law of Moses that was nailed to the tree when Jesus died for our sins. Jesus replaced that law.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:25-26
What this means is, if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and have received the Holy Spirit, then we must let the Holy Spirit direct our steps. It is important that we don’t put on vain glory or become conceited. Because when we do that, it provokes others. When we are conceited it opens up the sin of envy which has no place in the life of a child of God.
The Fruit of the Spirit and Each of Their Meanings
Let’s take a look at the nine qualities that are involved in following Jesus and walking in the Fruit of the Spirit. Then we’ll break each one down and discuss what they mean to a child of God.
The Fruit of Love
The very first attribute is love. It’s important to note that there isn’t a single word out of place in God’s Word. I think it’s no accident that love comes first. Why? Because the whole Bible is the rulebook for living and our instructions in righteousness. When we fulfill God’s commandment to love God first and then everybody else as ourselves, we are living out the whole Gospel of Christ.
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:36-40
Love truly encompasses all of the other types of Fruit of the Spirit. This type of love is agape love which is the love of Christ. It’s the decision to love. It’s not just a feeling. This love goes above the love of family or friends. This type of love is directed towards everyone, including people who are unlovable.
Related: Jesus and Love: A New Way to Love
The Fruit of Joy
Joy is a belief of the heart. It’s an internal emotion that never changes regardless of your situation. When times get tough, I still have joy because I am a child of God and my eternal life is secure. He will never leave me or forsake me. I have the joy of the Lord.
Whereas happiness can come and go, joy can abide internally because we have the love of Christ. And it does not change when times get tough. But as you’ll see from the following scriptures, joy comes from the Lord. How do we claim that joy as our own? It’s through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:12
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Roman’s 15:13
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Roman’s 14:17
The Fruit of Peace
This fruit of peace is peace with God. It is peace under any circumstance, It is peace that your life is blessed. It does not have to do with the absence of war. It’s more than just that mindset everything is calm and peaceful. It is the peace of God that passes all understanding.
We can have peace in our hearts because we know that God is all-powerful and everything is under his control. When troubles arise in our lives, most of the time we have no control over them. It could be a worldwide crisis or health issue.
We have no control over the outcome of a cancer diagnosis. But through faith in our Heavenly Father, we can have peace and comfort in knowing that He’s got this. We may have to go through nasty treatments, but the comfort that He provides gives us the strength and courage to endure even the most difficult trials. Accept the free gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus and that comfort is there. You just have to put your trust in Him.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
The Fruit of Longsuffering
The fruit of longsuffering is the ability to have patience in spite of what is going on. It is to have patience through your trials, and through getting hurt by others. Through every encounter with humankind, since the book of Genesis, God has been longsuffering and forgiving. He has provided our guidelines for living, watched as we sinned and broke his laws, taken centuries to repent and then went through it all over again.
Remember that every good and perfect gift comes from God, who gives us the ability to be patient. When we serve Him by showing our patience, He receives the glory. When His love moves through us as we show that patience, we are becoming more refined to help us mature spiritually.
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:3-4
Longsuffering is also included in the scriptures in love from 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Of course, we must have patience when living with love in our lives. It is important to have the patience to wait for that person who hurt you to make things right with the Lord and with you. Forgiveness is essential as well. Just as Christ forgave you, you must be longsuffering and forgiving of others.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Colossians 3:12-13
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 1 Corinthians 13:4
The Fruit of Kindness
As you become closer to Jesus and the more you heed to the Holy Spirit, your love will grow. Kindness is a natural byproduct of love.
What is kindness? The definition can be found in the following scripture as the Apostle Paul addresses the Philippians. But basically, kindness refers to treating everyone that you meet with love and respect. It means putting their needs above your own.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Kindness was originated by God. The ultimate act of love and kindness was shown by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross at Calvary. Jesus paid for our sins. And by offering the free gift of salvation to all who would accept His gift of kindness, we have the assurance of eternal life together with Him in Heaven.
Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Psalm 25:6
The kindness shown by God was given, in spite of the fact that there were people who rejected and hated Him. They still do today. But He continues to show that love and kindness and we have to also. It’s important that as witnesses for Him that we show kindness every day and in every way. Some may not appreciate it as much as others. But we’re not kind because someone deserves it. We are kind to serve others. Our job is to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
The Fruit of Goodness
Similar to kindness, goodness also includes generosity. In fact, a better translation of this word, goodness, calls it generosity. So that’s what we’re talking about here. We aren’t talking about just generosity in the sense of money, but with every single thing.
Jesus is our best example of what generosity looks like. Jesus didn’t have much money. But He was the most generous person who ever lived. He gave of His time, his heart and His talents. He listened, He healed, He taught, He led others and the He gave His life for all of mankind.
So how can we show the kind of generosity that Jesus did? When we live by the Fruit of the Spirit, everything we do is because we have the love of Jesus in us. Remember that everything that we own is first owned by God. So sure, give generously financially. But give your time to those who need someone to talk to. Make meals for those who are sick. Where you see a need, fill it. Most of all, be generous in sharing the Gospel. Because that is the greatest need of all.
The Fruit of Faithfulness
When referring to the Fruit of Faithfulness, it’s important to break down the word and focus on the word, faith. Faith is complete belief and confidence in God and all of His promises. It is so important to allow God and the teachings of Jesus to shape everything that we do.
The fruit of faithfulness speaks to not only faithfulness to God, but being faithful to the people around us as well. When we are reliable, others can count on us. Sometimes when we think about faithfulness we think in terms of marriage, but it is in any type of relationship.
By putting your faith in God and letting the Holy Spirit guide you, you will prove your faithfulness to Him in everything that you do. Total faithfulness is more than just reliability. It is a total commitment to God that goes far beyond human reasoning. When others look at you, where do they see your level of faith? That’s a good question to really work on.
The Fruit of Gentleness
Gentleness is the opposite of pushiness or assertiveness that we are encouraged to be in today’s world. It is meekness, humility. Jesus described himself as meek and lowly in the verse below. That is the perfect definition of gentleness.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:29
What is your approach to the harsh and argumentative state of the world. Do you react with abrasiveness? Or do you respond with the humble, meek and lowly style that Jesus does? It’s definitely easier to fight back. But when you allow the Holy Spirit to flow through you, your responses will be of love for Jesus and everybody else.
God wants us to show gentleness to everyone in the same way that Jesus showed to the woman who was caught in adultery. He didn’t accuse her or cast the first stone. Instead, He forgave her and showed her a better way. We need to approach others with that kind of gentleness.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8:10-11
The Fruit of Self-control
The fruit of self-control speaks to resisting the ways of the world and living a Godly life. It means that we are living by the Fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh. It takes self control to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us and live by love for others. This doesn’t mean love as the world loves, but the agape love of Jesus.
It takes self-control to live by the fruit of the spirit. Do you feel joy when you’re faced with a life-threatening illness? Do you approach strife in a peaceful manner? Are you longsuffering and forgiving when someone has hurt you? Do you kindly put the needs of others before you own?
Do you show generosity when you have a friend who is going through a tough time and needs a friend to listen? Do you hold onto your faith in the face of a world crisis or battle with a health issue? Are you a humble, meek and gentle servant of Jesus, showing love and compassion in every way?
All of these things take self-control. And we know that it doesn’t come naturally to us. It is only by allowing that Holy Spirit to connect our branch to the vine that is Jesus Christ.
How Do We Develop the Fruit of the Spirit
If we live by the fruit of the spirit, we need to be cultivated. Paul says, If we live in the Spirit, we have to keep in step with the Spirit. We have to learn how to cultivate our bad habits and learn new ones. Through this Spirit, Jesus makes us into people who love God and others.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit means that we constantly keep our sights on the Lord. We have to be diligent in prayer, studying His Word, attending worship services and fellowshipping with other Christians. We have to nurture our relationship with the Lord, making it the priority of our lives. And we have to work, every single day to live by every single Fruit that He has called us to bear.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 2:17-18
Please understand that works does not save you. Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior by grace through faith is what saves you. But once you’re saved, that Holy Spirit starts working in you to produce the Fruit of the Spirit. Show that fruit, every day, as often as you can. That is how you demonstrate your faith.
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Walking in the Power of the Holy Spirit
When we walk in the Holy Spirit, we are not walking in the fruit of the flesh. It is natural to be worldly and walk after the flesh. But if we put our sights on Jesus and His commandment to love God and everybody else, it will be a lot easier to walk in His steps.
Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit is expected in a child of God. As we grow, we develop our witness to others what the faith and life of a Christian look like. So I challenge you to make every effort on a daily basis, to serve Jesus and others. Live by the Fruit of the Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in your daily walk. Walk with Jesus, not the world.