Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” - Galatians 5:22

The Holy Spirit of God is a wondrous, mysterious, multifaceted force that provides meaning, sustenance and direction for our lives. The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22 lists nine different “fruits” or qualities of God’s Spirit. This list gives us an insight into the nature of God. It also helps us know which qualities God is trying to bring to fruition in us.

Love is the first fruit listed because it is the greatest of them all. All of the other fruits seem to be components of love. The Bible tells us that God is love. So if you want to know God, then be a loving person and allow others to love you back. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:7-21.

Joy can be put on and worn like clothes. Joy comes from understanding how incredibly blessed we are each day. When we wake up in the morning, putting on joy is as essential as brushing our teeth and getting dressed. If we do not feel joy in our heart, we can search for it and find it. Start each day with a joyful heart. Read John 15:1-11 and Philippians 2:1-5

The Peace of God is not just found in the absence of struggle or turmoil but actually can be most profound in the midst of struggle. God’s peace and comfort is but a prayer away. It is waiting for us no matter how difficult or stressful the circumstances in our lives. Read John 14:25-31 and Ephesians 2:17-21

Patience comes from understanding that God exists beyond time. We live in the world of time. Days pass, clocks tick, schedules are kept. God is eternal and beyond time. God’s work is accomplished in “God’s time.” Being aligned with God’s Spirit helps you be patient with the process. Read Romans 8:18-25, Ephesians 4:1-6, and 1 Timothy 1:16-17

True kindness has no strings attached. Living in God’s Spirit means that you will be “good for nothing.” You will be able to offer help, show kindness to others without expecting anything in return. Read Colossians 3:12-17, Titus 3:4-7, Micah 6:6-8

Generosity brings tremendous hope to the world. Generosity makes a way when there does not seem to be a way. Generosity makes dreams come true. Whether you are the giver or the receiver of generosity, you always feel like you are in the midst of a miracle. Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-15,

Faithfulness is like entering a cone. The further you go into faithfulness, the more God seems to ask you to give up and return to God. It seems like your life is becoming squeezed and purged of “ungodly” things. But this is only the beginning! God can pull us through the point at the end of the cone into a world of freedom and abundance beyond anything we can imagine. Nothing we give up for God compares to what we receive in return. Read Luke 16:10-13, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Revelations 2:10

Gentleness comes from strength. God is the strongest being and therefore God can be the most gentle. Those who are the weakest must put on a show to prove they are strong. But if you belong to God and your strength comes from God, you have nothing to prove and gentleness can be your way of life. Read Philippians 4:4-7, James 3:13-18, and 1 Peter 3:13-17

Self-Control is a bit of a paradox. We are most in control of ourselves when we have given over our control to God. Our ability to bear the fruit of the Spirit is essentially an act of God. We can have self-control and make self-sacrificing and difficult choices because God gives us the power to accomplish what we can not on our own. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 and 2 Peter 1:3-11.

I encourage you to memorize this list of nine fruits of the Spirit. Memorizing them is an important step in making them a part of us. Followers of Jesus do all we can to develop these qualities within ourselves with God’s help. We know, though, that if we are blessed to bear any of these fruits, they do not come from our own efforts, but primarily through an act of God blessing our lives. The fruits of the Spirit are always a “God thing.”