When we hear about the fruit of the Spirit, what comes to mind? Words like love, joy, and peace might come to mind as these are the first three “fruits” of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. How important are these “fruits” of the Spirit? What do they look like? This time around, we will dive into all nine attributes listed to be able to understand what each one means and how we are supposed to live them. Let’s begin our study on the fruits of the Spirit.
The fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23. It says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;”. We must remember that if we leave these attributes as just words on a page, they have no meaning to us as Christians. To have the fruit of the Spirit, we must be living these qualities and if we show these qualities, then the Spirit truly lives in us.
The first “fruit” listed in Scripture is love. A great deal can be said about love. To have a better understanding of what love is we can read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”. It is interesting to note that while describing what love is, two other “fruits” of the Spirit are used to describe what love is, patience and kindness. Paul starts out by saying that love is patient and kind, and if patience and kindness are also “fruits” of the Spirit, then love seems to be an important factor in having these qualities of the Spirit. In fact, it is one of the most important factors because according to 1 John 4:8, God is love, and if anyone does not love they cannot know God. Therefore, one cannot possess the fruits of the Spirit if one does not know God, making love such a vital part of our lives as Christians.
The second quality listed is joy. Joy is something that is hard to have in a world full of hate and sorrow. But God makes it clear that we need to be joyful, and we have many reasons to be joyful. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We should be glad everyday because everyday is a day that God has made and He is always in control. But we should always be joyful because we have something to look forward to that is greater than anything this earth could ever provide. Heaven. We have the opportunity to spend an eternity with the Father, if we are faithful to Him. Our eternal home should always bring us joy, just thinking about how wonderful it will be. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God gave us his Son, so that we could have everlasting life. What a great reason to be joyful and spread the joy we have in Christ Jesus.
The third quality listed is peace. What kind of peace is Paul referring to here? World peace? Peace for Christians? Paul is referring to the kind of peace that can only come from Christ Jesus. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” There will not be peace in the world, you won’t find it. But you can find peace in Christ Jesus knowing that he has overcome the world. All the troubles, all the tribulations have already been defeated. God is in control, and that should give us peace knowing He is in control.
The next two qualities are patience and kindness. Keep in mind, we have already discussed how patience and kindness are descriptions of love so let’s see what else Scripture says about these two qualities. If we struggle with patience and being anxious about things, Paul tells us to give those things to God. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Ask God in prayer to take control or to help you in a certain situation. Let your requests be made known to God and in doing so, patience develops. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 7:8, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” We must have patience.
Kindness is something that is even taught in public school systems and should be taught in homes around the world. We are taught to be kind to others and to treat others as we would want to be treated. But in a world full of hate and evil, kindness is very hard to show. But Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and even pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Paul tells us in Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” “Everyone” is the key word in this passage. Not just those who we like or who treat us well, everyone. Even those who hurt us. Why? “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45). If we show kindness to everyone, along with the other qualities listed, we have the “fruits” of the Spirit.