There’s something truly refreshing about a fresh fruit!
After the focus Wednesday on the works of the flesh (and a pause in writing yesterday as I attended to some other work), I need the refreshing view of the Spirit’s work in producing in us the fruit of Christlikeness.
I know you need that same focus today, so let’s get to the text.
Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
Getting to the Heart:
One of the first things to notice about the fruit of the Spirit is that the fruit is ethical, not about gifts or works. Why is that an important distinction?
Most of the time when we want to end a bad habit we figure out what to do to replace that habit with something good. If that’s all it took to stop doing the works of the flesh, then we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit at all. Likewise we can’t expect to defeat the works of the flesh in our bodies by doing Christian service or engaging in more and more Christian activity. Don’t get me wrong: Christian service and activity (preaching, praying, Bible reading, serving others) is all good. The problem comes in thinking that engaging more in those activities will automatically equal growth. You may recall that King Saul, Balaam the prophet and Judas Iscariot all did miraculous things and spiritual works, but they were all equally void of the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit.
What else can we know about the Spirit’s fruit?
- It concerns the development of heart character, and the Lord Jesus is the One who is represented as this character develops in us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all seen perfectly in the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit wants our hearts to be transformed to process life as Jesus did on earth: with all those qualities developing in us.
- The fruit is singular in this passage, and that means all these qualities are growing in the Christian all the time. We can’t claim to be kind but also lack self-control, for example. The Spirit is battling the works of the flesh offensively by producing this fruit in all of its beautiful Christ-honoring qualities.
- Fruit takes time to grow. I enjoy the challenge of gardening. I’m not so good at it, but I love to plant seeds and finally see them break through the ground. I’m also impatient. More than once I’ve had to remind myself not to dig up the seed to see if it had taken root! The seed produces the plant, and the plant produces the fruit. The Holy Spirit is doing that in our lives surely, over our entire lifetimes.
- This fruit is from the Holy Spirit and not a result of natural human tendencies. For example, someone may be very diplomatic and know how to be a peacemaker and help others out of trouble, but that doesn’t mean the Spirit’s fruit of gentleness is there. You may be very quiet and can listen well, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate the Spirit’s fruit of patience is present. We can and must grow to discern when and where the Spirit is at work producing this fruit, both in our own lives an in others.
Next week I will continue to explore this passage with you by digging further into the meaning of each character quality of the fruit and talk about how to see those qualities develop in us. That’s what’s ahead. But for now…
Let’s talk it over:
- Can you see how the fruit of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit are not the same? The New Testament speaks more of the fruit than the Spirit’s gifts. Why do you suppose that is? Can you find places in the New Testament that speak of the fruit?
- How are you currently seeing the Spirit’s fruit developed in your own life?
Dear Holy Spirit, You are so faithful to us, and we don’t deserve that! We know the works of the flesh still war within us, and You are inside us with closeup access to our sins. Reveal to us those areas where the works of the flesh need to be crucified, and keep producing the fruit of Christlikeness in us! We depend on You for this work and are grateful that You are in our lives. In Jesus name, Amen.
Worship in Song:
“Jesus, to You we lift our eyes
Jesus, our glory and our prize
We adore You, behold You, our Savior ever true
Oh Jesus, we turn our eyes to You”
© 2019 Sovereign Grace Worship/ASCAP, Sovereign Grace Praise/BMI, Sovereign Grace Songs