Free Bible Study Magazine
This article was originally published in Living Word in October 2011.
The Fruit of the Spirit Read Galatians 5:22-23
Part of the Work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is to produce in him/her the fruit of the Spirit. The seed of the Fruit of the Spirit is sown in us when we receive Jesus Christ into hearts, it then must grow and mature. Notice that it is fruit and not fruits; it is one and not many. I would liken it to a blackberry or raspberry – one fruit, but made up of different pieces. The center of the fruit is love and gathered around it are joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Against such there is no law – in other words no law can enforce this fruit into a person, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Of this fruit, P. Borrington says, “joy is love’s strength; peace is love’s security; longsuffering is love’s patience; kindness is love’s conduct; goodness is love’s character; faithfulness is love’s confidence; gentleness is love’s humility; and self-control is love’s victory.” The fruit can be put into three groups: love, joy, and peace are the manifestation of the Life of the Spirit, resulting from fellowship with the Lord Longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness refer to the spiritual life in its manifestation to others Faith, meekness, and temperance describe Christian conduct in the face of trials and opposition. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 13:13 “Now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Definitions and Exposition Love The Greek word used here is agape, that is, love unstained by evil, love of a deepest reverence, the love of God. This is the love that has to be deeply embedded within our spirits by the Holy Ghost. It is the love that bears all manner of wrongs, envies not, nor boasts, has no pride that does not behave in a shameful or disgraceful manner, nor just look out for oneself. It is not easily aroused to anger nor think evil of others nor delight in sinful behavior but delights in the truth of God. It believes and has a hope in all things concerning Him. It is the love that is able to cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). It is the love which never fails (1Cor. 13:4-7). Joy. This is the exuberance of joy that bubbles over. The early Christians used it as a form of greeting with the meaning good health to you, may your life be full. This is the joy of companionship and union with the Lord. It is Christ’s own joy, the joy of His presence, and so is not dependent upon circumstances. That is why we are able to rejoice in times of trouble (2 Cor. 7:4), and count it joy to face difficulties (James 1:2). We are strengthened by this joy Neh. 8:10. It is a joy that our tongues cannot describe, for it is full of the glory of the Lord. Peace. The Hebrew word is Shalom, used as a greeting among Jews. It means harmonious fellowship between God and man and between men. It is the peace of reconciliation that was made by Jesus Christ on the cross between man and God and the rest and contentment that follows (Col. 1:20). It is the peace that Jesus gave us and left with us (John 14: 27), a peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7), for it is the peace of God. Because the seed of peace has been planted in our hearts how should we behave towards God, to one another and to all men? Paul tells us that the message of reconciliation has been committed to us (2 Cor. 5:18) and in order to convey this message effectively we must be at peace with each other and with all our fellow men (Rom. 12:18). We are to let the peace of God rule in our hearts at all times (Col. 3:15). In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that peace-makers would be blessed (Matt. 5:9). Longsuffering or patience. Ivor Rosser says of this fruit “it has an enduring quality of self-restraint in face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish -an indispensable virtue which is always pardoning and always loving”. This is the longsuffering/patience that God has with the believer and unbeliever alike. It is the very nature of the Lord Jesus Christ which He showed to His disciples and to us, also to His enemies (1 Pet. 2:23). We cannot fulfill this nature of longsuffering ourselves, for it is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit (Col. 1:11). In order for “brethren to dwell together in unity” this fruit is certainly needed (1 Pet. 3:8-9). Gentleness and goodness. These fruits go together. Gentleness is that considerate thought given to others, not the looking on the outward appearance or action of a person and judging accordingly. It is the weighing up of all things and then dealing in a gentle manner. The Greek writers employed this word to characterize nurses, teachers, or parents with trying children. Goodness could be said to be the actions carried out as a result of the fruit of gentleness reigning in the heart. It is the good deeds that are done in grace, tenderness and compassion. It was the goodness of God that led us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). The tender, loving, and gentle heart of God was revealed by His good works, in particular the gift of His only Son, and this is that which by His grace brought us to repentance. Faith. This is not the same as saving faith or the Gift of Faith; faithfulness is meant. It is that living and loving allegiance to Jesus Christ, that full commitment to Him whatever happens. Jesus gave warning concerning the unfaithfulness of His own in the last days (Luke 18:8 and Matt. 24:12). We should take this to heart and make certain that we live by His grace so that this fruit may grow in our hearts and we remain true and faithful to Him. Faithfulness is that standing firm in times of persecution and suffering. It means holding fast to the word of God in the face of untruth and error. We must learn to be faithful in the little things so that God can trust with greater things. The original meaning of the word was to melt and flow in a liquid state.
Ivor Rosser says “true meekness possesses the softness of affection and disposition”. Meekness. This is that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us without disputing or resisting. The stony heart, bitter spirit, strong will, and quick temper must be replaced by this meekness”. This is the meekness that Jesus had and of which He invites us to learn of Him. Temperance. This is self-control and thus speaks of the strength to control, which can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is by this fruit of the spirit that we decide not to yield to the works of the flesh, and instead yield to the Holy Spirit. Only as this fruit develops can we overcome our self-life and the weakness of the flesh. Prayer: God our Father, we thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, producing in us the fruit of the Spirit which is the likeness of Jesus. We pray that today we might humble ourselves and submit to your will, that the image of your Son Jesus Christ might be revealed in us more and more. Amen.