By: Tim Sader
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The past three weeks we have studied first hope, then faith and finally the greatest of these love. These spiritual truths we found to be often linked together because hope is part of faith and neither can work without love. It is the greatest gift of all because in it the commandments are fulfilled and Christ’s sacrifice was made. John 3:16 sums it up, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son and who so ever beliveth in him shall not parish but have everlasting life.” Last week we learned love is the first of nine fruits of the spirit. It is first for a reason because it fulfills the law and if there is no law then love cannot be fulfilled. In today’s study we will take deeper look at the remaining eight spiritual fruit and learn the importance of bearing fruit in our relationship with the Lord. Many of these fruit seem to be closely related but each has its own specific function in our spiritual journeys. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 explains what love is it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. Love never fails.” A couple of the other fruit are part of what love is so it is first because it must be considered in all we do as believers in Christ.
Joy is the next fruit listed by definition it is an emotion of great happiness. If we are satisfied with the love the Lord has shown us in Christ we will be full of joy and gladness (Psalm 90:14). We should be full of joy because of all the great things the Lord has done for us (Psalm 126). If we obey His commands we are walking in love and if we are walking in love His joy will fill us and spill into the lives around us (John 15:10-11). The next fruit listed after joy is peace, which means the absence of mental stress or anxiety. If we have joy in our hearts we will in turn promote peace and cause more joy for others (Proverbs 12:20). Instead of being anxious we should seek God and pray when we start feeling that way and the peace of God we can’t explain will protect us (Philippians 4:6-7). We must learn to seek peace and pursue it so we should focus on the Lord and let His peace consume our lives (Psalms 34:14). Patience is a good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence and is the next spiritual fruit. We are told to count it all joy when we face challenges in our lives. By doing so we are building our faith and learning the patience it takes to see something through to the end. When we master patience we will be more perfect and will truly want for nothing (James 1:2-4). Christ’s patience is perfect and in 1 Timothy 1:16 Paul writes, “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” In 2 Peter 3:15 it also says, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.” We are also told to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what they were promised (Hebrews 6:12). If we do the same we will receive all the Lord has promised us.
Fruit number five is kindness, which is the quality of being warm-hearted, considerate, humane and sympathetic. Some of what Paul was going through he handles with patience then kindness. Both of these lead to love just like all the gifts of God should lead to love (2 Corinthians 6:6). In 2 Peter 1:7 it also says that brotherly kindness once again leads to love. In the God given act of repentance by Christ’s sacrifice we are shown the kindness of the Lord (Romans 2:4). We should show kindness to others or risk the Lords stern discipline (Romans 11:22). He shows kindness to us if we remain kind but He will cut us off if we choose to be unkind. The next fruit, goodness is defined as the quality or sate of being good. If we have reverence and take refuge in the Lord He will show us the goodness He has stored up for those who do so (Psalms 31:19). If we have tasted the goodness of the word of God it is impossible for us to remain away from that goodness (Hebrews 6:4-5). Goodness leads to love the first and most important fruit (Psalm 69:16). Faithfulness the next fruit is the quality of being faithful and to be faithful means any loyal and steadfast following. Faithfulness and love are once again paired up in relation to the other (Psalms 57:10). The Lords love and faithfulness protects us from harm (Psalms 61:7). Love and faithfulness are so important they go before the Lord so where we see these fruit we know the Lord is near. He is faithful to us forever, which means He will be by our side and protect us when we choose to follow Him.
Fruit eight is gentleness and it means mildness of manner or disposition. Gentleness is kind of like being care free and really easy to get along with. Gentleness is teamed up with some of the other fruit of the spirit and other spiritual truths and we are told to cloth ourselves in them (Colossians 3:12). We should show these fruit in our lives like a high-end fashion show in Paris. Just like love and faithfulness where there is gentleness we know the Lord is near because He is gentle (Philippians 4:5). As children of God we are to flee from all that is evil and pursue spiritual gifts from God. Love and gentleness make this list along with faith (1 Timothy 6:11). Self-control is the final fruit of the spirit and to me is a bit like capping the previous eight off. The first fruit are something you do that shows externally where self-control is something you do inside to keep yourself functioning in the previous fruit. Self-control is the act of denying our self, controlling our impulses so if we stay in control the other fruit will show in our lives. To function in faith, hope and love it is necessary to be self-controlled by not giving into our impulses (1 Thessalonians 5:8). It is important to be self-controlled so we can pray with a clear mind (1 Peter 4:7). We should control our selves because any opportunity we give the devil a door in our lives he will take and ruin our walk with God (1 Peter 5:8). We should be self-controlled if we believe and hope in the return of Christ so we are ready and alert when he comes back.
That is all nine fruits of the spirit, each are related to one another under the umbrella of love and held together by our self-control. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are these fruit and we should do all we can to operate under each one of them. Just like different varieties of natural fruit have different nutrients good for the body, spiritual fruit is good for the spirit of man. We should take part in each fruit daily so love can operate in our lives and produce a new harvest in the people we come in contact with. Ephesians 5:9 says, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” As believers we must always try to live in goodness, righteousness and truth so we can bear fruit in the lives around us. Next week we will take this fruit a step further and see how bearing fruit affects the world around us and why it is so important.