The fruit of the Holy Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit
enables us to get our
"The Christian life should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree.' - John Stott
A Christmas tree is decorated by buying lights, tinsel, silver beads, baubles... A fruit tree simply bears the produce of its own nature.
Similarly, we may decorate our lives with good deeds and other moral characteristics, but sooner or later our inner natures will reveal themselves—with all their flaws.
Christians believe that Jesus changes the inner person, by giving them a 'new birth', and in so doing he causes the Holy Spirit to come into our lives. The presence and in-dwelling of that Holy Spirit will produce the 'fruit of the Spirit'.
Paul, writing his letter to the churches in Galatia, spells out what the fruit is. He specifies nine particular qualities, which we'll consider in groups of three:
The first group comprises love, joy and peace, which are all marks of true godliness. Love is for God and others; joy is much deeper than happiness (and is rather like the flag flying at the top of a castle to let you know the king is in residence!); and peace is the consequence of being in a right relationship with God—one which doesn't depend on your circumstances.
The second group, patience, kindness and goodness, deals with our attitudes towards others. Do we show patience when we are driving, for example? Are we kind to others—especially when they are at fault? And what about goodness? Jesus went about doing good, but most of us just go about!
The final three, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, deal with our inner attitudes. The faithful person can be relied upon to keep his or her word; the gentle person doesn't fly off the handle when provoked; self-control is not just keeping one's temper but also relates to things like the consumption of food and drink, the use of leisure time, and the way we handle our money.
Remember that fruit doesn't appear on a tree instantly—it takes time to grow, and needs to be nurtured and protected. If you want to see a perfect example of someone who bears all this fruit in their life, read the biographies of Jesus in the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (all NT).
Dr Kenneth Moynaugh, of the Rwanda Mission, put it like this:
"Joy is love exulting, and peace is love at rest.
Patience, love enduring in every trial and test.
Gentleness, love yielding to all that is not sin.
Goodness, love in actions that flow from Christ within;
Faith is love's eyes opened the living Christ to see,
Meekness, love not fighting but bowed at Calvary.
Temperance, love in harness and under Christ's control,
For Christ is love in person, and Christ in the soul."
Pray: Lord, please plant the seeds in me and make them grow. Teach me in your ways and let my life bear fruit. Let my life be an example of you living in me. Amen.
Watch a sweet way to remember the nine gifts
Watch the video clip of Self-Control vs Self-Indulgence
Watch a vox pop video of what people understand by the fruit of the Spirit
Read the book Listen to the Heart: Story Meditations on the Fruits of the Spirit by Bobbie Reed S
Read the book
Deep Down: Character Change Through the Fruit of the Spirit by Tim Riter
Read the book The Fruit of the Spirit: Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be by Thomas Trask & Wayde Goodall
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