We hear a lot of churchy words and phrases, don’t we? One of which is “The Fruit of the Spirit.” What does this mean?
Paul was writing to the church in Galatia (Galatians) and was writing about the ways of the world; those who pleasure in sin. “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5: 21-23).
The Fruit of the Spirit is the character of God. Note that this ‘fruit’ is written in the singular tense—it is one fruit, it is one characteristic with many attributes. The ‘fruit,’ like the anointing, is given to us not based on our works, but by His grace. The fruit of the Spirit is not a life we try to live, but a life we let be lived through us.
The nine attributes is like a seed that grows, and develops at different levels of maturity or growth in God. For example, love produces joy; joy produces peace; peace produces patience; patience produces kindness and so on. So we can have joy, but not self control. Self control therefore, being the last on the list, would be the ultimate goal to attain. The mature Christian has attained self control, yet is still always in the developmental stages, continually being renewed and developed further in each attribute.
The benefit of God’s love first starts with us: His love. As it matures, it becomes a benefit to other people and to God. The maturation empowers us to fulfill the law, the first commandment. Being that this is the character of God, and God is at work nurturing this ‘seed’ in us, then this in turn should be the character of the church—the ‘little Christs.’
Fruit indicates result, not what we attempt to do. Fruit of the Spirit is the result of walking in the Spirit.