The Fruit of the Spirit are certainly well-known, but I’m not sure if they are truly sought after. Part of that issue is probably found in the fact that we misunderstand what the Fruit of the Spirit are. The Fruit aren’t just ‘good ideas,’ they are the product of someone who pursues life in the Spirit. They’re called ‘fruit’ because, through the Spirit, these attributes grow and mature in our lives as we let go of our selfish ambitions and human desires and allow the Spirit to guide us.
As Paul wrote, life in the Spirit includes:
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
These attributes are so important, we need to make sure we understand what’s actually happening when we pursue them. To help, let me give you nine things you probably didn’t know about the Fruit of the Spirit:
1. The Fruit aren’t just practical, they are supernatural.
Sometimes our personalities will lend themselves to one of the Fruit of the Spirit, but the Fruit are more powerful than simply being ‘good’ at something. The Spirit is able to make the most impatient person patient, and the most harsh person gentle.
“God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He does everything by his power that is working in us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIRV).
Yes, the Fruit of the Spirit focus on our practical lives, but the Spirit does so in a supernatural way.
2. The Fruit are more important than the Gifts of the Spirit.
That might be a challenging statement, but here’s what I mean: without the Fruit of the Spirit, the Spiritual Gifts make little to no sense.
The Fruit build character and humility in the believer. If we have Spiritual Gifts, but no Fruit, then the Gifts will tend to point to the situation and the believer, and not to God.
The Gifts are like ‘clanging cymbals’ if they are not paired with ‘love’. When paired with the Fruit, however, the Gifts of the Spirit can powerfully impact others for the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 13:1).
3. The Fruit are Spirit-led to help us overcome our humanity.
Our natural desires are far from holy. God knows that and has provided a way for us to overcome those desires. That doesn’t mean temptations go away, it simply means the Spirit helps us overcome them.
We are no longer held captive to our humanity, but the Spirit opposes our humanity, so we can overcome what seems to be so natural, yet highly destructive (Galatians 5:17).
The Fruit of the Spirit are supernaturally grown by the Spirit as we live in the tension of our humanity and life with Christ.
4. The Fruit are a true sign of being Christian.
No Christian is perfect (that couldn’t be said more). But pursing the Fruit of the Spirit is an ongoing journey for every Christian.
No Christian should say, “I’m impatient, it’s just who I am.” Instead, every Christian should say, “I struggle with… [fill in the blank]… and I strive to let the Spirit help me overcome it.”
A Christian who pursues the Fruit of the Spirit is a mature Christian.
5. The Fruit help us understand true freedom.
As believers, we are FREE in Christ, but we are not FREE to do whatever we desire. In fact, that kind of freedom is really being captive to our humanity.
Our selfish desires and ambitions go directly against the call for love and unity. Paul said it this way:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:13-15, NIV)
We can’t do whatever we want, but rather pursue the Spirit’s lead and allow the Fruit of the Spirit to grow and mature in us.
6. The Fruit aren’t just for Kids.
Yes, we can use the nine Fruit of the Spirit for a great kids curriculum! The lessons are great for kids to learn, but they should be very evident in ALL believers as well!
In fact, the best way kids can learn the Fruit of the Spirit, is by witnessing the example of mature Christians around them.
All believers need to pursue the Fruit of the Spirit — all day and every day!
7. If we belong to Christ, then we walk by the Spirit in unity with others.
One of Paul’s main goals in Galatians is to teach the concept of ‘walking by the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:25).
We can’t just declare we are believers and continue doing what we have always done. Belonging to Christ, means we are also guided by the Spirit. We move away from arrogance, selfishness, and hidden agendas; and towards love and unity.
Pursuing the Fruit of the Spirit means we continually walk by the Spirit in unity with others.
8. Healthy Christians produce healthy Fruit.
Here’s the challenge — no matter what, we will produce ‘something!’
If we are immature Christians, we will produce ‘rotten’ fruit. That is the fruit of our human nature. Paul lists these too (Galatians 5:19f) — they are based on our selfish desires and our brokenness.
If we are mature Christians, we will produce healthy Fruit. That is the Fruit of the Spirit. These are opposite and contrary to our humanity. Healthy Christians will connect themselves to the ‘vine’ that produces healthy fruit so that the Spirit can mold and shape us in relationship with Jesus (John 15).
9. There are not just ‘nine Fruit’.
The list isn’t exhaustive — Paul uses the nine Fruit, found in Galatians 5, as examples. In fact, each of the Fruit listed are so inter-connected to each other that it’s difficult to even isolate them.
Paul was describing the Christian life, not a list of nine attributes. As a result, our attention needs to focus on the Spirit’s work in our lives, not on perfecting each of the nine.
Now that you know a little more about the Fruit of the Spirit, how is God asking you to grow healthy fruit in your life?
I believe if we honestly want to grow and mature, we will honestly desire to lay aside our humanity and pursue the Spirit.
He will help us overcome and supernaturally become the person God has called us to be.
What did you know about the Fruit of the Spirit? What didn’t you know? How will it impact your journey?
It may be difficult to find, but Donald Gee’s, The Fruit of the Spirit is a great little book that deals with this topic.
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