Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

The Fruit of the Spirit

By Dennis Pollock


In the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul gives a list of what he calls "the fruit of the Spirit." He writes: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23). Fruit is never seen in a plant's infancy; it comes as the crowning glory of the tree or vine after it has grown and matured. A normal apple tree may take as long as eight years before apples appear on its branches. In those early years it will create pretty, green leaves, but no apples. But give that tree enough time, and rain and sunshine, and eventually, the apples will arrive, and the apple tree will fulfill its purpose.

So, what does this have to do with Christians? Obviously, Paul is not talking about literal fruit: peaches, pears, cherries, mangoes, and bananas. He is talking about people fruit. We are, according to the Scriptures, the "planting of the Lord," and our great Vinedresser desires that we produce good, sweet, and beautiful fruit. Our fruit will involve character traits that are patterned after our Creator: love, kindness, gentleness, and so forth, and these fruits are, in the eyes of our God, very, very sweet. And just as fruit trees may take some time for the fruit to appear, the fruits of the Spirit also emerge in our lives over the course of time. They do not erupt in our lives the moment we receive Christ and are saved. They are there potentially from the first moment of salvation, but they require time, patience, and a daily walk with Jesus to grow and mature.

And just as fruit trees always have their beginning with the planting of a single seed, human "fruit trees," Christ followers and abiders, have their beginning with the planting of the seed of the gospel in our hearts. We hear the message of Jesus, perhaps through a sermon, when reading a book, watching a television preacher, or having a friend share their salvation experience with us, and we are strangely moved to call upon Jesus to come into our lives and hearts. Peter writes: "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23). A seed is planted, our heart is receptive, we begin to grow in

Christ, and after a while fruit appears.

Character Traits

The fruits mentioned are essentially character traits, godly qualities that are developed in us as a result of the Holy Spirit's continual work in our hearts. Love, joy, kindness, and self-control are produced and continually increased in our lives as we walk with Jesus. And for this reason, these fruits of the Spirit are also called "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ." Paul writes: "that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:10-11).

This is simply another way to describe the "fruits of the Spirit." The list Paul gives in Galatians: love, joy, peace, and so forth are fruits of righteousness, and in Philippians, Paul makes it plain exactly where these come from: they are "by Jesus Christ." They do not develop in our lives through meditation or yoga or positive thinking or investing all our energy on creating a green earth. They are "by Jesus Christ;" they come as a result of knowing Jesus, walking with Jesus, fellowship with Jesus, and abiding in Jesus. If you do all that, fruits of righteousness will inevitably appear in your life; there will be no stopping them.

More Than Power

Sometimes Christians focus more on power, such as power for preaching or healing or soul-winning and pay little attention to these inner fruits. But without the inner fruits of righteousness and self-control, all the big, impressive ministry gifts one may possess will go for nothing. Many a powerful minister has gone down in flames due to a lack of these fruits of righteousness and negated nearly all the good he or she has done. Gentleness, kindness, and self-control are not "wimpy" traits that are barely worth considering – in fact, they are the stabilizers, through Christ, that keep our lives, marriages, ministries, and families humming along smoothly.

This necessity to produce these fruits is so great that Paul says in First Timothy:

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness,

faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11)

Paul had been talking about the evils of being obsessed with money, and so he tells Timothy to "flee these things," and instead pursue the fruits of righteousness, listing the fruits of the spirit that he felt were of the utmost importance. Interestingly, he uses the word pursue. In the other two passages, these are spoken of as fruits that will automatically grow as we live in and walk in the Spirit. But here he tells Timothy to actively pursue these fruits – to make a determined effort to see them powerfully manifested in his life.

Pursuing Goodness

He is talking about character qualities. We must be loving people, gentle people, patient people, and righteous people. And we must actively pursue this; we must make this a major goal of our lives. This will involve constant self-examination. If we find that we are acting in a harsh, impatient, unkind manner, we must identify our attitude, recognize it as being displeasing to God, and ask God to help us change. And we must explore paths that will lead us into a greater display of these character traits, these gentle fruits, that will honor Christ and make us peacemakers rather than those who stir up strife.

There are three reasons why we must prioritize the fruits of the Spirit and see them actively at work in our lives. First, God commands it, and that is reason enough. Second, our lives will be better, happier, and more peaceful. We will have fewer interpersonal conflicts, more friends, and more opportunities to do good, and probably find that people will tolerate our mistakes a whole lot more than they could if we were obnoxious and harsh. And third, we will honor our Lord Jesus.

Outsiders ought to be able to look at Christians and say something like: "Well, I don't go along with their religiosity, but I'll have to admit, they're some of the nicest people I know." When this happens in our lives, we make Jesus look good, or to use more Biblical language, we "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." And when we open our mouths to talk about our Savior, they just might be ready to listen.



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