Paul, in Ephesians 1:14 tells us that the Holy Spirit “is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.” How do we know if we truly have the Spirit of God within us? The Fruit of the Spirit is a great blessing from God and should be evident in the life of all Christians. What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
Fruit (not Works or Gifts)
There is a big difference between works and fruit. Work is something you do while fruit is the result an action. In verses 19-21, Paul spoke of the works of the flesh. These works are desires/impulses of the flesh that are sinful. Those who are born again (John 3:3) have the Spirit of God within them. We must not confuse the Fruit of the Spirit with the Gifts from the Spirit. Spiritual Gifts are given by God “for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). Romans 12:6 tells us that we each have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” Spiritual gifts are given by God and they vary amongst His children. Some Christians are gifted teachers and/or preachers. Some Christians are especially gifted in service or exhortation or discernment. The Fruit of the Spirit is similar but different than Spiritual Gifts. Whereas, different Christians are gifted differently, every Christian has the Fruit of the Spirit. It is called “Fruit” because it is the result of the action that is taken by God in giving us the Holy Spirit.
Fruit (not Fruits)
It is important to remember that the fruit mentioned is singular (Fruit), not plural (Fruits). The qualities listed below all make up the Fruit of the Spirit. Remember, these are not gifts, but Fruit. There is 1 fruit with 9 aspects to it. Just as an apple has a peel, core, stem, etc., so too does the fruit of the Spirit have many aspects. The Fruit of the Spirit is the natural result of being converted by Jesus Christ and the 9 characteristics are unified and should be displayed simultaneously as they are the proof of being born again and of a godly character.
The Fruit of the Spirit
What is the Fruit of the Spirit? Paul writes it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let’s consider them in more detail:
- Love – Love is a crucial aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit because God is love (1 John 4:8). It is God’s unconditional love that flows to us, in us, and through us. Our love for one another is part of our testimony. This includes our love for our neighbors (including our enemies). Love clearly reflects the character of God. Ask yourself: “Is my love selfish or godly? How can I show Christ-like love this week?”
- Joy – Joy is mentioned next because when our desires and affections are rightly aligned with Christ, the result is great joy. We are to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). With the Spirit of God within us, we always have a reason to rejoice. Ask yourself: “What do I delight in? Is it selfish or godly?”
- Peace – Peace is mentioned because it is the result of a heart reconciled to God through Christ (Rom 5:1). The worst thing that can happen to you (eternal damnation) is now impossible because you have been redeemed. Because of Jesus, we have no reason to worry. Ask yourself: “Why am I anxious? Why am I worried about what I am worried about?”
- Patience – Patience is related to peace because it means we submit to God’s will and plan and forsake our own. We are still and wait for the Lord because we know His purpose and plan is far better than ours. Ask yourself: “Am I trying to make something happen or am I trusting God? Am I able to wait for the Lord to give an answer or trying to get God to approve my answer?”
- Kindness – Kindness means showing goodness, sympathy, empathy, hospitality, and generosity towards others. It is being considerate of others and thinking of their needs before yourself. Ask yourself: “Am I friendly to others or am I only friendly to certain people? Am I able to empathize with others or do I try to keep my distance?”
- Goodness – Goodness is our working for what is right. It is repulsion of sin and a desire for what is good. It is the focus on doing everything for God’s glory and the good of others, rather than for selfish gain. Ask yourself: “Do I delight in sin or do I abhor it? What do I delight in? What do I admire and desire?”
- Faithfulness – Faithfulness is trustworthiness. It means we consistently do what we say we will do, and we make a practice of doing what is good. Ask yourself: “Do I make promises I don’t keep or cannot keep? Do I do what I say I will do?”
- Gentleness – Gentleness means not being easily provoked or irritable. It is not getting easily angered. Gentleness does not mean being weak or frightened, but it is the ability to focus less on yourself and more on strengthening and encouraging others. Ask yourself: “What usually makes me angry? Am I kind to others? Who can I encourage this week?”
- Self-Control – Self-control is the discipline given by the Holy Spirit that allows Christians to deny themselves, resist the power of the flesh, and to desire what is good. The devil doesn’t make you do anything! Your spouse and your children cannot make you react sinfully. The Spirit of God has given us the ability to control our thoughts, words, and actions. Ask yourself: “When was the last time I resisted temptation? Do I excuse my bad behavior, or do I seek to control my behavior in the pursuit of godliness?”
Examine your life. Are you producing the Fruit of the Spirit? If not, come to Christ in repentance and faith. Become a Christian and receive the Spirit of God within you. Be reconciled to God through Christ. If so, keep cultivating this fruit in your life and “live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27).