Good morning precious friends
Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"
It is easy to look at these verses in despair over how much we don’t measure up.
When we stop to realize how conditional is our love, how lacking is our joy, how fragile is our peace, how short is our patience, how tainted is our kindness, how dull is our goodness, how fickle is our faithfulness, how jaded is our gentleness, and how absent is our self-control, it is no wonder that we may begin to feel a sense of frustration as we examine the fruit of the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul writes, “the fruit of the Spirit is love” (singular), and then lists 8 resulting attributes (plural) of love.
This list is not given as a set of goals to be pursued. Paul was writing to correct a group of believers who were mistakenly trying to reduce salvation to a list of rules or things to do. This is a list of the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of us. The third person of the Godhead is active in this list. He alone can produce this fruit in its genuine form within a believer’s life.
If a person is to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit Himself must be living and active in them. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3 verse 5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that none may boast.” So to be saved is to be given the gift of faith by God, through His Holy Spirit, as a result of the sacrifice Jesus paid on our behalf.
There is nothing we can do to earn the Holy Spirit in the same way that salvation is a free gift of God, available only because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
We cannot wallow in despair when we examine the fruit of the Spirit. We must recognize our shortcomings, but we must conclude that only by the free gift of God can we demonstrate the fruit of His Spirit, so we must boldly ask Him for that gift. When we do, Luke 11:13 reminds us we can know for sure that God will grant our request!
George Muller was best known for his work as an evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, where he cared for 10,024 orphans over the course of his life. He also established 117 schools, which provided a Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of whom were orphans. But on a more private level, shortly after he became a believer, he began to pray for the salvation of 5 of his best friends. The first one came to know the Lord after Muller prayed for 5 years; the second after 10 years; the third after 25 years; the fourth after 50 years; and the fifth came to the Lord at Muller’s funeral, after 52 years of prayer. The result of a Spirit-filled, empowered life is faithfulness in many areas, especially prayer.
God the Father left a powerful mark on His children when He gave us the gift of His Holy Spirit because of His Son. May we always want more of Him.
You can tell the type of tree by the fruit that it produces. The Lord wants our lives to be productive and fruitful. When we are guided by His Holy Spirit and when we abide in Him, wonderful fruit is produced in our lives. The fruit that He produces in our lives can have a great effect on those around us.
Chapters 5 and 6 compares those who live in the flesh and those who live in the Spirit. “Living in the flesh” means living independently from the Lord and relying on one’s self, or living only by our human effort.
“Living in the Spirit” means abiding in Christ - living a life that is seeking Him, trusting in Him, leaning on Him, and following as the Spirit of God guides. The “flesh” or our old nature, and the Holy Spirit are contrary to one another.
A non-Christian only has the old sinful nature to operate by, but a Christian has God’s Holy Spirit (the “Helper” whom Jesus sends). There is a battle going on within, but if we follow God’s Holy Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of our flesh. Christians have two natures, the old (the flesh) and the new (God’s Spirit). The one we nourish and feed is the nature that will grow and win over the other.
The “fruit of the Spirit” means what the Spirit of God produces in a person who is a disciple of Christ. Only a person who has come to Christ and is submitted to Him has the Holy Spirit within. We still need to make the conscious effort to seek Him, listen to Him, rely on Him, and obey Him, not just live an independent life as we did before we came to Jesus.
The key to being transformed to genuinely acquire these qualities, which are actually the character of Christ Himself, is to abide in Him, and this fruit will grow naturally and increasingly. Just as a young tree does not produce fruit immediately, it is the same with the fruit of the Spirit. To “abide” means to live and remain there, so that we are connected to Jesus in our everyday life, His character starts being produced in us, and continues to grow. He is the Source, not us, and He gets the glory, not us. It is His fruit, not ours. The fruit of the Spirit is not the result of trying, but the product of living “in Christ”.
Where the Holy Spirit lives, human character is changed and spiritual fruit can be seen. Certainly this maturity isn't found overnight. It is noticeable over the long haul of life. What fruit is the Spirit bearing in yours/my life? In what ways have we matured?
In what areas do you want the Holy Spirit to exercise greater control?
Let us pray:
Loving Father, I desire to reflect the nature and character of the Lord Jesus and to show forth the fruit of His Spirit in my life. Prune away all those areas in me that are obstructing the growth of spiritual fruit being produced in me, and may I grow in grace and do only those things that are pleasing to You, for Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
Much love from Maurice and Margaret