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The Fruit of the Spirit

God has not left us alone to develop attributes which please Him. It is in cooperation with the Holy Spirit that Christians develop attributes characteristic of children of God. Just as with farming if one expects fruits one is going to have to sow.
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Gal 6:7-10
What constitutes "sowing" in this passage? Doing good to all. Along with doing good works there are a number of other ways in which one sows to the Spirit, such as meditating upon God's Word, prayer, and in living righteously. "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth." Eph 5:9

What kinds of attributes are characteristic of the fruits of the Spirit?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." Gal 5:22
Notice that "fruit" is actually singular. For all of these things taken together constitute the fruit of the Spirit.

Love is a concern for the well-being of others. Joy and Peace are personal feelings of well-being, feelings of happiness and contentment.

"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom 14:17
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Rom 15:13
Longsuffering deals with toleration. Not only do Christians grow in their toleration of difficult circumstances and but also in tolerating the suffering they receive from others sinning against them. Not that such toleration is not a condoning of sin, but rather it is an allowance of staying in relationship with that person waiting for them or influencing them to repent. This is the case of God's relationship with humanity. "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that Godís kindness leads you toward repentance?"Rom 2:4 Notice for example God's longsuffering of Paul prior to his conversion. He writes, "However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life."1Tim 1:16 God will put up with alot before giving up on people. And so this is a comfort to all of us, but also an exhortation to follow His example in our relationships.

Kindness and goodness are closely related, the subtle difference perhaps being that "kindness" refers to doing good towards others while "goodness" refers to the state of being good.

"Faithfulness" here in Gal 5:22 is literally the greek word "faith". That is one of the fruits of the Spirit is more reliance upon God and trust in his Word.

Gentleness is the attitude of mind and behavior which, arising from humility, disposes one to interact with meekness. Thus the proud are not dispose to being gentlemen. Realize again that these characteristics are not prerequistes to being in relationship with the Holy Spirit. They are byproducts of cooperating with the Holy Spirit. It is not a prequiste that one have self-control, for example, to walk in the Spirit. Rather as a person walks in the Spirit he will find that he naturally develops self-control.

Self-control is that character quality with correlates our intentions and our actions. It's one thing to intend to do or abstain from something, but it takes self-control to carry out that intention. In 2Peter 1:6 Peter instructs us to add to our knowledge self-control. For it is one thing to know something, but another to act on it.

These are to be actively pursued, not passively presumed. If a farmer expects to reap fruit, he's going to have to make an effort to sow. Notice for example the Bible commands these kinds of things, and obeying commands takes effort.

1Pe 1:22  "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart"

1John 3:23 "love one another, as He gave us commandment."

1Pe 3:8  "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;"

1Th 5:16  "Be joyful always;"

Ro 14:19  "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification."

Ro 12:12  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Col 3:12  "Therefore, as Godís chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

1Pe 5:8  "Be self-controlled and alert."

One last aspect of the fruits of the Spirit is the issue of amount. "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2Cor 9:6 As this is true in our acts of generosity so also it is true in our cooperating with the Spirit. The more cooperation, the more one will experience the fruits of the Spirit.

Discussion Questions

How is the development of our Christian character much like farming?
What constitutes "sowing" to the Spirit?
What are some causes which make people weary and lose heart in doing good?
Define or describe each attribute of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22
Give examples in your own life where you've seen one or more of the attributes develop?
Which of these can be improved upon in your life and allow others to pray for you concerning the development of these fruits.
What efforts can you make to develop these characteristics?

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Dec 29,2023