THE PROOF IS IN THE FRUIT
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5: 16-26
“You will know them by their fruit.” Those were the words of Jesus as He spoke of false prophets that he called wolves in sheep’s clothing. Just as the fruit that a tree produces will unmistakably indicate both the type and health of a tree, the “fruit” that our lives produce will indicate the same in each of us.
Jesus also taught that one’s fruitfulness in life flows from our relationship with Him. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
Just what is this fruit that God seeks to produce in us? In short, it is anything that we allow God to do in us and through us that brings glory to Him. As we are made new in Christ, God is in the process of transforming us from the inside out. Another aspect of fruitfulness found in Galatians 5 are character qualities that God seeks to develop in us through His Holy Spirit. These qualities or virtues are referred to as “The Fruit of the Spirit.” In total, there are nine parts of this fruit. Over the next 9 months, on our blog we are together going to look at each of these qualities and see what we can do to allow God to better develop those qualities in us.
Before we look at those specific qualities, first a few general observations about this fruit:
- Note that “fruit” here is singular. There is only one fruit of the Spirit, but it contains nine qualities. While some may come more naturally to us than others, if one of these characteristics is lacking or missing in our lives, then we do not fully have the fruit of the Spirit. We are not to pick and choose which qualities we want or settle for 4 out of 9, all these are part of the one fruit God wants growing in us.
- Note that these are the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the believer (or of Bob, Sally, Dick or Jane). The fruit that is produced in us is Spirit produced. This is important to remember if we are to allow God to fully produce His fruit in us. We cannot simply brush off behavior and attitudes contrary to the fruit by saying “well, that’s just how God has wired me.” As new creations in Christ, God is able to transform our old natural ways of behaving and relating. That is being made new. We see this even in the wording of the “fruit” of the Spirit contrasted with the “works” of the flesh also listed in Galatians 5. As Warren Wiersbe points out:
The contrast between works and fruit is important. A machine in a factory works, and turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. Fruit must grow out of life, and, in the case of the believer, it is the life of the Spirit. When you think of “works” you think of effort, labor, strain, and toil; when you think of “fruit” you think of beauty, quietness, the unfolding of life. The flesh produces “dead works”, but the Spirit produces living fruit.
So if this fruit of the Spirit is the outward evidence of the inner work of God in us, than it is important that we check the quality of the fruit. Unfortunately, we often seem to put more emphasis on gifts of the Sprit than we do fruit of the Spirit. Once again, allow me to quote Warren Wiersbe: “It is unfortunate that an overemphasis on gifts has led some Christians to neglect the graces of the Spirit. Building Christian character must take precedence over displaying special abilities.”
The gifts of the Spirit are abilities for the purpose of ministry in the church, while the fruit of the Spirit is the inner character that shape our attitudes and actions as well as determines just how effectively we will use our gifts and abilities. Gifts may vary from one believer to another, while the fruit of the Spirit manifests itself in solidarity within every believer. Gifts as acts of service can be imitated, while the fruit of the Spirit as character cannot. Character trumps actions, hence our emphasis these upcoming months.
The proof is in the fruit.