For a while now I have been constantly reminded of the fruit of the Spirit. I don’t know if it is just because it is an interesting topic or if the Spirit of God is telling me that I need to work on them. Either way I would like to start a study of the different fruit of the Spirit. I hope you will enjoy it, I know I will.
Before we look at the individual fruit of the Spirit we need to establish what is meant by the term, “fruit of the Spirit.” The reference comes from a passage in the book of Galatians chapter 5. Starting with verse 16 Paul begins the application of the previous section of the book. This application is not a contrasting of the life of a non-believer and that of a believer in Jesus Christ, but rather a picture of what a carnal believer looks like as opposed to a believer who walks in obedience to God’s law. (When I say law in this context I am not talking about the Mosaic Law, but instead referring to the Law of Christ.)
The distinction mentioned above is important because it brings into play the elements of the puzzle Paul is trying to help us solve. Paul’s first piece is the one that explains that every life produces something. You cannot simply exist without creating some type of product. If you are alive, even were you to remain completely immobile you would still produce carbon monoxide. (It is also likely that you would, depending on the time period involved, produce some type of odor. 🙂 ) Life does not happen in a lab where we can control all the variables. These variables, though out of our control in some cases, have an effect on our lives.
These variables are the second piece of the puzzle Paul introduces. Paul states that the variables lead to one of two actions. Paul calls them the works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit. These two phrases hold great significance. “The works of the flesh” carries with it the idea of the result of actions carried out. It is the logical conclusion of behavior. Think of it this way, when you hit a light bulb with a hammer what you get is broken glass.
The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand carries with it the idea that the results are the work of external stimuli applied to an individual’s life. This would be akin to the analogy the apostle John uses in John 15 regarding the vine and the branches. In this illustration our only job is to abide in the vine and the rest is done by the vine and its husbandman. Now I am not trying to undermine the importance of the need for us to abide (which is hard work). What I am trying to explain is that in this passage Paul is stating that when we abide in the vine, or in this case being led by the Spirit, the results are the work of God.
Paul gives us the final component in this puzzle in the beginning of Chapter 6 of Galatians. That component is what the fruit of the Spirit looks like in real life. The point is not all encompassing when it comes to application of all the fruit of the Spirit at one time. Instead Paul explains that this fruit is not for decoration but for actual use and benefit. In simple terms, the fruit is for eating. Like the spiritual gifts mentioned in Ephesians and 1 Corinthians these fruits are for the benefit of believers. This is true not only of the ones who evidence the fruit but the ones who come in contact with them as well.
The key to this which allows us to put the pieces together is understanding that these characteristics are not produced unilaterally. There is obedience and results. The willingness to be led by God and the fruit such willingness produces. Just as Abraham believed and was counted righteous so also when we obey and believe there is fruit.