One of the first lessons I can recall learning when I was young was on the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was taught a song that helped me learn all the fruit of the Spirit in order (please don’t ever ask me to sing it for you). It makes sense why little kids are taught the fruit of the Spirit. Not only is it fun to list out “love, joy, peace, etc.” in song, but doing so encourages kids to pursue qualities of a Christlike character. However, the fruit of the Spirit is not just for little kids. What we see listed out by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22–23 is important for every follower of Christ, young or old. The fruit of the Spirit should not be something that we simply admire but seek to live out as followers of Christ.
So what is the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22–23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” This fruit is the opposite of what Paul lists out as the works of flesh in Galatians 5:19–21. Rather than creating dissension, we are to cultivate peace. Rather than exhibiting hatred, we are to embody love. Rather than having outbursts of anger, we are to be self-controlled. Seeking to live this way as followers of Christ is not about behavior modification. We don’t strive to be loving or kind so that we can be a better person. We seek to embody the fruit of the Spirit in response to the salvation and transformation we have received through Christ.
The fruit of the Spirit does not come naturally to us. In fact, the works of the flesh that we read about in Galatians 5:19–21 come most naturally. But Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross changes this for us. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are able to receive forgiveness for our rebellious and wicked ways. And when we accept Christ’s grace and trust in Him, we are made new. We are able to live differently as followers of Christ, and with the Holy Spirit inside of us, we are empowered to look like Christ as we produce actions such as love, joy, peace, etc.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Evidence that We are Becoming Like Christ
Such truth reminds us that the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is evidence that we are becoming more like Christ. When we see evidence of gentleness and self-control in our actions, we are reminded that we are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, growing in our Christlikeness day by day. The fact that the fruit of the Spirit comes from our sanctification encourages us to rely on the Spirit. We can’t be loving in our power alone. We don’t say to ourselves, I’m just going to be more patient today. It is only by seeking to walk in God’s ways and relying on the Holy Spirit that we will see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. And when we see such actions sprouting up in our lives like fruit on a tree, we can give glory to the Lord who made such actions possible through Christ and by the Spirit.
The Fruit of the Spirit is One Fruit
It’s important to remember as we seek to embody the fruit of the Spirit that the fruit of the Spirit is one fruit. It’s really easy to say “fruits” when we refer to the fruit of the Spirit, but Paul uses the word “fruit” purposefully. While what we see listed out in Galatians 5:22–23 are distinct qualities, seeing the fruit of the Spirit as plural rather than singular could cause us to only strive to embody certain fruit while forgetting the rest. But all of the fruit of the Spirit is important, and all of the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our lives as we continue to obey Christ and grow in our sanctification.
So as believers, let’s remember the importance of the fruit of the Spirit and seek to grow in these characteristics of Christ by the power of the Spirit. The more that we depend on the Spirit and desire to live like Jesus, the more the fruit of the Spirit will grow. And if you’re wanting to learn more about the fruit of the Spirit, check out our Fruit of the Spirit(alt text: Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study | TDGC) study!
Additional Resources on the Fruit of the Spirit