Before we begin talking about the individual qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, we should talk about concept of fruit of the Spirit.
First, let’s notice that this fruit is from the Spirit of God; the result of His influence in our lives. It is not the fruit of philosophers, scholars, “my truest self”, the latest from daytime talk shows, science, business, or anyone’s personal “think-so”. We see that “fruit” everywhere; we know its fruit, the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21. The fruit of the Spirit is different from anything the world pushes. His influence in our lives is rooted in the Father, found in the Scriptures (of which He is the Inspirer), and perfectly modeled in Jesus Christ. It is not irresistible; sadly, we can resist and sin. But when we are abiding in the Spirit’s influence, the result is a holy life, transformed from the inside out, one of light and salt…and good fruit.
Fruit? We’re not talking about apples and oranges, of course. Fruit as used here and elsewhere in the Bible refers to a result, an outcome, or an effect in our lives. Some have tried to limit the meaning of fruit to simple evangelistic outcomes; but even a quick study out of a concordance will show that fruit is much more. For example…
- “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;” Matthew 3:8, NAS95
- “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit,” Matthew 12:33, NAS95
Notice in the last verse that a person can produce either good or bad fruit. The thoughts of our hearts—guided by our choice of the flesh or the Spirit—result in good or bad fruit, in the form of our words, attitudes, deeds, responses, or goals.
Lastly, notice that the word “fruit” isn’t plural. There are places where Jesus talked of “fruits”, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Matthew 7:16. However, the qualities in Gal. 5:22,23 aren’t the “fruits” of the Spirit, even though there are 9. There’s a good reason: when we look at them as “fruits” of the Spirit, it is possible, perhaps even common, to choose some “fruits” and ignore others, as if it were a spiritual cafeteria— “I’d like two of those, but none of that.”
Instead, Paul describes it as a single fruit, a single outcome of the Spirit’s work in us. The fruit (singular), is a whole changed life, containing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Perhaps we could think of it like holding an orange with peel, sections, pulp, juice, seeds, and all. The whole changed life (thoughts, words, attitudes, and deeds) of the Spirit should be forming and present in the Christian—not just a little joy here and a smattering of goodness there, if you please.
It is done by…
- daily dying to all of self (Gal. 2:20 and Lk. 9:23),
- daily abiding in Christ (Gal. 2:20 and John 8:31,32),
- daily letting the Spirit-given Scripture teach, reprove, correct and train us (2 Tim. 3:16,17),
- daily allowing the Spirit to strengthen our inner man (Eph. 3:16)
- and you letting go and letting God’s Spirit control
What fruit are you bearing? Let us walk in the Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit every day in every way in our lives.