The fruits of the spirit I hear you ask… what are they?
The most famous Bible verse about the Fruits of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22, where the apostle Paul gives us a list of nine fruits -Paul was into making lists. The list is meant as a contrast to the list of the ‘deeds of the flesh’ found in Galatians 5:19-20. Let’s take a look at Galatians chapter 5 verse 22:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
LOVE: One of the main messages that comes through loud and clear from studying our Bible is the extreme importance that God the Father is placing on that everyone learn how to love Him, love ourselves, love one another, and to even go as far as to be able to love our enemies and those who will try and hurt us. The word for love doesn’t refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back.
JOY: The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is your strength. This is why it is so important that every Christian have some level of God’s joy operating through them in this life. The joy of the Lord can really give you an incredible surge of strength in your own daily walk with God – especially when you have to take on some really tough situations. Unlike happiness, joy is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of the day. This is a product of fixing your focus on God’s purposes for the events in your life rather than on the circumstances.
PEACE: Without the peace of God operating in your life, you could become very easily rattled, shaken, tormented, and knocked right off your game in the Lord the first time any kind of adversity should ever come your way. It’s not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness that is content knowing that God controls the events of the day.
LONGSUFFERING: One of the main definitions of the word longsuffering is that it is referring to patience. And patience is another sorely needed quality in the fast paced world in which we live in today. One of the ways of our God is that He is a very patient and longsuffering God. His ways are not our ways. It is the ability to endure ill treatment from life or at the hands of others without lashing out or paying back.
KINDNESS: As a result of more people being impatient, having short fuses, and with everyone always being in a hurry, many people have lost the ability to treat others with kindness and respect. A kind word, a kind action to another person can really do wonders for them. When you study the life of Jesus in the New Testament, you can really tell how kind He always was with other people in His dealings with them. Jesus is without question the ultimate role model for all of us of someone who was fully kind. When kindness is at work in a person’s life, he or she looks for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. It is moral goodness that overflows. It’s also the absence of malice.
GOODNESS: To those who really have this quality, you can tell that it is something operating deep down inside of them. This quality is not something that waivers like some of the other qualities can do. These people are good down to their very cores of their personalities. You can see it and feel it when you get around these types of people. As a result of seeing this God-like goodness deeply ingrained into their personalities, there is an immediate drawing towards them. You feel totally safe being around them because you know you can totally trust them, and you know they would never deliberately hurt you. While kindness is the soft side of good, goodness reflects the character of God. Goodness in you desires to see goodness in others and is not beyond confronting or even rebuking (as Jesus did with the money changers in the temple) for that to happen.
FAITHFULNESS: Once you are saved and have entered into a true personal relationship with the Lord – one of the first things you will really have to grab hold of is holding fast to the Lord and staying faithful to Him for the rest of your life. Just as God will stay faithful to you in His own personal relationship with you – He will expect you to stay loyal and faithful in your own personal relationships with the other people in your life. A faithful person is one with real integrity. He or she is someone others can look to as an example, and someone who is truly devoted to others and to Christ. Our natural self always wants to be in charge, but Spirit-controlled faithfulness is evident in the life of a person who seeks good for others and glory for God.
GENTLENESS: Since Jesus walked our earth as a man – the Son of Man – study His actions very carefully when you read the gospels and how He handled different types of people. There were times that He would engage and set people straight, like He did with some of the Scribes and Pharisees. But there were other times that He dealt with people very gently, with kindness and love. His gentle way of handling some of these people is what really jumps out at you when you really study how He handled different types of people. Meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility.
SELF CONTROL: The Bible tells us that our spirits and our flesh will war against each other in this life. We all need God’s self-control operating in our lives and in our personalities. Our fleshly desires, Scripture tells us, are continually at odds with God’s Spirit and always want to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our grip on the fleshly desires, choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right place.
The spiritual fruit list is clearly not meant as an exhaustive description of the fruits, but was given to highlight the fruits that Paul wanted the Galatian church to keep in mind. As a matter of our human nature, we are determined to get what we desire. God has a very different way, and wants us to follow it.
God loves you so much, He wants you to experience that love in the deepest part of your soul. Pray and ask Him to help you be a person who walks in love. Choose to believe the best about people rather than automatically assuming the worst.
Study the passages of the Bible that talk about God’s love for you and really get them into your heart. Focus on learning to love as Jesus loved and all the other fruit of the Spirit will follow.