What a Fruitful Life Looks Like
Galatians 5:23-24 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Paul is talking about the results of living our lives in communion with the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9). Jesus used the same metaphor in John 15.
Three things about the fruit Paul is talking about in Galatians 5. One, it is singular. It is not the fruits of the Spirit, but the fruit of the Spirit. Why does that matter? Because the fruit is a singular entity. It grows together. We do not grow by focusing on a particular fruit. When the fruit grows, it grows symmetrically. Two, the roots of the fruit are internal. They are fruits of the Spirit. They are the outward manifestation of our inward communion with the Spirit of Jesus. Three, they grow gradually. No one plants an apple seed and expects to be eating apples from it the next day. We need to be patient with ourselves and let the fruit grow at the pace the Spirit wants to mature it.
How do we understand the fruit?
Love is about valuing people because they bear the image of God. It is not about feeling affectionate towards people. It is about unconditionally loving a person for their intrinsic value.
Joy is a sense of soul level well being. It is not excitement or happiness based on circumstances.
Peace is a sense of rest that comes from deep within us. It is not numbness which is the counterfeit of true peace.
Forbearance is tolerance of people when they annoy or anger you. Forbearance does not give up on people. Cynicism looks like forbearance. The difference is that cynicism keeps us from caring about people.
Kindness is demonstrated through practical acts that bless others. It is not giving to get.
Goodness means you have integrity. Who you are on the outside matches who you are on the inside. The opposite would be our false selves.
Faithfulness is about keeping your word and being reliable. Its counterfeit is being opportunistic and doing only what benefits us.
Gentleness is humility. People who are gentle put the interests of others ahead of themselves.
Self-control is the ability to do what God wants you to do. It is not will power which is about self-salvation.
How do we grow the fruit of the Spirit?
Galatians 5:24 says by remembering we belong to Christ Jesus. By remembering who we are. We are loved. We are sons and daughters of God. We have a future hope. We have been bought back by blood. When we reflect on who God says we are and we live in that love, the fruit naturally grows. We don’t grow in the fruit by focusing on the fruit, but be going deeper into the reality that we belong to God.