When I say the phrase, “fruit of the Spirit” to believers, it generally conjures up “the list” of the fruit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23; it may kick someone into song based on the catchy tune around naming the fruit of the Spirit; it is often mis-titled as the fruits (plural) of the Spirit.
I recently purchased a book for use in our small group that separated out the fruit in a series, yet the book has no introduction about what the fruit is; it simply starts the first chapter on “love.” I have heard sermons that presented the fruits (plural) of the Spirit or stating the first item listed is the foundation or building block for all the others (implying multiple types of fruit) or that we should evaluate our lives and select the one we need to work on the most for us to get closer to Jesus. It sounds good, but it is flawed theology or, at best, only part of the truth.
My purpose for this writing is to provide a proper study of the fruit of the Spirit, in context with Scripture, using sound hermeneutic principles (comparing Scripture to other Scripture to ensure the right interpretation and meaning of the passage), to enlighten or provide a better understanding of what Galatians 5:22-23 actually means. At the end of this study, I hope you see that, although God’s way is not easy, it is simple. God has woven throughout all of His Word the very truths that bring us to Him; I hope to show, in part, how God’s Word all works together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He knows our futile, finite minds cannot comprehend who He is. He knows that as humans we likely will find ways to complicate the simplest truths only to believe we must work our way or earn our way to Heaven; for humans to understand it is a gift provided exclusively by God, that we cannot earn it, do not deserve it, and cannot experience it apart from God, just seems foolish (I Corinthians 2:14).
Rather than just go through a list, I want to take you on a journey that helps you see more fully how God’s working in our lives produces fruit and the purpose of that fruit. Through growing the fruit of the Spirit as a ministry of the Holy Spirit, we see that He never leaves us or forsakes us, He can see us through Jesus’ righteousness rather than our sin, He transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ, and He forever seals us as His inheritance for all of eternity, just to name a few. This is not an exhaustive study by any means. My hope, though, is for you to see better how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit interact as the one true God with three associated functions to do two specific actions:
- to show God’s desire that every human created being of His will be transformed into the image of Jesus for eternal communion and life with Him; and
- to show God’s purpose for those who believe in Him to reconcile others to God so that none will perish, but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
The fruit of the Spirit is grown inwardly. But, unlike the movement from a few years ago where the Church began to focus entirely on internal virtues and, in essence, ignored the outward display of God’s character to others, this internal growth that molds us more into the image of Christ is intended to be exercised, displayed, and demonstrated to believers and non-believers, alike. Imagine what the world would look like if true Christians – not those who profess it with no visible evidence of any Jesus fruit in their lives – if true Christians allowed the overflow, the overwhelming characteristics of God being grown within their lives actively demonstrated in the image of Christ the true mission of Christ.
That is exactly the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit. The growth of this fruit is fundamental in our Christian walk and we cannot be transformed more into the image of Jesus without the growth of this fruit. This fruit is God-given, Spirit-grown, and builds within each of us the image and likeness of Jesus’ character that true believers of Jesus will share with all outwardly while inwardly perfecting worship and fellowship with God Himself.
I will make every attempt in my finite abilities to share and introduce other passages of Scripture that show the unified purpose and teachings of God, that none of His Word conflicts with any other part of His Word but that you will see God’s interwoven tapestry united throughout Scripture as a common theme: to show us Jesus, bring us to Jesus, make us into the image of Jesus, and ultimately to bring us to Jesus as His Bride, as God’s inheritance, as God’s fulfillment of His joy by His creation coming back to Him in worship and eternal communion. I trust this will encourage you, inspire you, bless you, and help grow your fruit of the Spirit in your life. Shall we begin?