Summary: Every Christian possesses the fruit of the Holy Spirit; we have to nourish them so they grow. The fruit are positive characteristics; gifts; we cannot manufacture them, and certainly cannot witness without displaying them.
Galatians 5: 22-23 The Fruit of the Spirit
The contrast is stark
the sinful nature results in:
sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred,
discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,
dissentions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies,
and the like, in other words, the list could be longer,
and if we were each to take a pen and a sheet of paper
and make a note of all the sinful behaviour we see with our own eyes
and hear with our ears
and read about in our newspapers,
the list we could produce by next Sunday morning
would be as long as a roll of wallpaper!
Paul’s words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, about those who do these things, are stark, salutary:
‘Those who live like this WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God’.
Absolutely clear; no compromise; no universalism; no excuses,
not that we should become smug or self-righteous,
but so that we should pray FOR and WITH sinners who do such things
that they would repent and come to Christ.
The first list, then, is a list of actions we as children of God should not do;
and this is followed by a list of characteristics that those who belong to God should display;
and Paul calls them the fruit of the Spirit,
and the teaching or doctrine is that each and every one of the nine,
is always produced in every believer,
no matter how faintly evidenced its various outward manifestations may be.
If a bush or shrub is healthy it will produce good healthy edible fruit;
if it is dead, it will not;
so it is with us in a spiritual sense.
On the subject of Christian fruitfulness, in John 15:1-8 Jesus says
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers;
and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit
and so prove to be my disciples.”
Jesus wants us to be fruitful.
In Galatians 5:22–23 Paul lists nine fruit,
or representative characteristics produced by the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.
They are not produced by us
through following a programme of character formation or striving.
They are love gifts, given by only source of true love, God the Holy Spirit.
The first three, “love, joy, peace,”
are inner qualities that reflect our Christian relationship to God.
The next three, “patience, kindness, goodness,”
show themselves in the Christian’s attitude and actions toward his neighbour,
And the last three, “faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”
reflect how Christians, we, should conduct ourselves in view of the duties, opportunities, and obligations that arise in our daily lives.
In every case, Jesus is the supreme example of each of these fruit or virtues,
and if we had time to look through the Gospels
we would see from the life and actions of Christ how he exhibited each of them.
The first characteristic or spiritual fruit is love,
the Greek word used being ‘agape’ which can be translated as ‘love’, ‘affection’, ‘benevolence’ or ‘charity’.
This is the supreme virtue of Christian living according to 1 Cor. 13:13;
and more important for us to show than even faith or hope.
As St Paul put it in Gals 5:14, “the whole Law is fulfilled in the statement,
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’”.
Agape love is the form of love that does not refer simply to pleasant emotions
or good feelings but to willing, self-giving service and deep care for others.
To display true agape love is a sure sign that one belongs to God.
1 John 4:7 says ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.’
Jesus did not say ‘by this people will know you are my disciples by your church attendance, or Bible knowledge, but by your love for each other’.
If we do not love each other,
and people outside the church know that we do not love each other,
then they will think we are hypocrites, and will never want to join our church.
For believers, love is not an option but a command. “Walk in love,” Paul declared,
in Ephesians 5:2 saying, “just as Christ also loved you,
and gave Himself up for us,
as an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”.