Have you ever heard the phrase – ‘fruits of the spirit ‘and not known what it meant? Or maybe you’ve got it a bit confused with the gifts of the spirit…then read on.
So, let’s start by finding out what exactly are these fruits of the spirit?
The bible introduces them like this;
“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.” – Galatians 5:22-23
Some of the words in that list you will be familiar with, but there are others there that may be less familiar such as forbearance. So, week by week we will look in detail at each one of them and learn what they mean in the context of the bible and why they are so important to Christians.
The term ‘fruit of the spirit’ is a title for those things you SEE a person displaying and that come from being spirit-filled Christians, a visible overflow of the holy spirit who lives within us. They are not something you can pick and choose to ‘have’ but are a collective term for the natural attributes that a follower of Christ will demonstrate in their daily lives.
In many ways, they are opposite characteristics to those displayed by people who have not yet encountered Jesus and are yet to be filled with the spirit.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21
Take for instance an apple tree, you would expect to see apples growing on it because that is what it is and it can’t do anything else but produce the fruit of its very nature. So, it is with the fruits of the spirit, but it’s not just one fruit but nine superb characteristics that shine through us and out of us!
We are going to start by looking at…LOVE! Now you all know something about love and when you hear the word love you probably imagine romantic love, being in love or maybe loving a parent or significant other.
But what does love as a fruit of the spirit mean and is it the same love?
The bible tells us that love, really isn’t just a warm, fuzzy, tingly feeling we get, or even an overwhelming passion but it’s so much more;
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
In today’s society people generally do think of love in terms of romantic love but as you can see from scripture, the Love that Jesus talks about is so deep, so wide and so high it’s hard to comprehend. To love like this, so unconditionally, is our day-to-day challenge and why we need the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us to help us.
Now love is not only a fruit of the spirit, but also one of the ten commandments given to Moses by God. This highlights just how important love is to God. As a Christian I am daily challenged by the words of Jesus when asked by the Pharisees (who were trying to test Him), which commandment was the most important?
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus made it clear and simple that all you need to do is to love in every circumstance you find yourself in, and with everyone you come into contact with – yikes!!! It’s easy to say but much harder to do.
Living in London I have really noticed the amount of people who sleep rough and have to beg to get food and drink. People are in such a hurry going about their day and almost don’t want to acknowledge what is happening in front of their eyes. I find this particularly challenging as there are so many who need help and it feels like whatever you do isn’t enough.
But, if we just stop for one, notice them and talk to them, buy them a drink or a sandwich, we are making them feel valued. When we show love in even the smallest way we are making God visible and that is what we as Christians are called to do.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18
So here is a challenge, for me as well…
As you go about your week, how about taking the time to actually try and connect with neighbours, people on the way to school or college or even people you don’t know well and make God visible by loving them well.
As I like to bible journal I thought I would share a page with you. It’s a declaration that even when things are tough in life, and we all have ‘stuff’ going on, because the Holy Spirit dwells within me (and you) that we will bear fruit because that’s what we are called to do!