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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24)
Fruit of the Spirit – singular “fruit.” Not fruits… there are nine graces given to us through the Holy Spirit. Given not individually, but rather as a collective whole. The fruit of the Spirit is a direct result of a single seed planted; a seed that took root and now beautifully blooms in the form of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. One root, one plant, many blossoms.
Threefold Elements of Character – Three triads of the Spirit.
1) Love, joy, and peace define the deepest life of the Spirit. They regard nothing but God and our relationship with Him.
2) Forbearance, kindness, and goodness, explain the life of the Spirit regarding men.
3) Faithfulness, goodness, and self-control point towards the life in relation to the world and its difficulties.
Love –The life force of the fruit in it’s entirety. Without love, all others wither and die. Joy and peace are a direct result of love.
“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Joy – When your heart abides to love God, the emotion of joy is poured over you. True joy comes from loving God, and knowing that He loves you. If your enjoyment comes from communion with God, your joy will never fade or pass, but will exist forever.
Peace – Without love joy and peace cannot exist; peace is built upon love and joy. The peace we are given, is reflective in the tranquility of our soul. True peace is not hidden behind the absence of struggle or worry, but rather in the presence of God. Peace is accepting your circumstances while at the same time handing them over to God – secure in the love of the Father.
Long-Suffering – Patient endurance towards one’s struggles, circumstances, and enemies. Not easily provoked or angered. Go beyond repaying hate for hate, and scorn for scorn. “Any fool can answer a fool according to his folly, but it takes a wise and a good man to overcome evil with good.”
Kindness & Goodness – These two coincide with one another, while promoting grace and understanding. Both embody the nature of not retaliating, as well as the ability to approach all attitudes with good. Kindness focuses on inward disposition and goodness the actions in which such disposition shows itself. We are not meant to live mainly for the purpose of loving God, but also to move amongst men, promoting the love and fellowship of God.
Faithfulness – Possesses the characteristic of love that believes all things, but also promotes faithful follow-through in all duties and commitments.
Gentleness – A submissive spirit that does not stand against opposition, but bends to it instead.
Self-Control – When faced with difficulties and opposition, or buried in the natural passions and desires of the flesh, one must practice conflict resolution and self-control.
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
It is my duty to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. One does not simply become good, and in turn is able to do good. No, one must accept the uncompromising, uncorrupted love of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is a product of the indwelling divine life. The gifts have already been given, I need simply to lean in and have faith in God and His plan. I need not toil and trouble myself with the impossible task of making my “bad self” good. Instead, I must be open to the Holy Spirit and have faith in Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can take what is “bad” and make it “good.” Turning our corruption to incorruption, while cleansing our flesh and Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is a direct result of the Spirit dwelling within, and can never be produced without its presence. The fruit is dependent on the nature of our receival of the Spirit, as well as our faithfulness to diligently express such gifts. As no other fruit exists without that which is love, I will embrace the gifts of grace afforded me, and focus on the love of God. When I can accept and truly have faith in the unconditional love of God, I can then accept (without pause) the love of others and myself. The type of love for others and myself that reflects the love of Jesus Christ. An all-forgiving love, filled with grace and kindness.
“Lord, you show me repeatedly that the answer is and always will be love. Without love, there is nothing else. Forgiveness is a gift of love. Compassion is a symphony of love. Peace and joy are happy siblings of love. I thank you for always pointing me to the truth. I praise you in everything. I praise your stillness and your timing. I praise your still small voice and guiding hand. Thank you, Lord for embracing me with unconditional love. I pray for continued growth in my own ability to love, to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Lord, I want to be a messenger of love in all I do. Setting aside all judgments, and pain of a wounded heart. I surrender every wound, enemy inflicted or otherwise, I surrender it all to you. I pray you will clear my mind of the need to impose my will and expectations on others. Guide me towards a better way of understanding. Lead me to the knowing that is my own heart.”
In Jesus name, Amen!
Photo by Marina Khrapova