“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
I love fruits. There are usually at least 3 kinds at any given time in our home. I rarely go without my daily banana. Open my fridge in the summer months and you will spot a watermelon. Apples and oranges spill over in the basket sitting on the counter.
Galatians 5:22-23 are some of my favorite verses. Nine “fruit” is (or would that be “are”) listed. And no, that isn’t a typo. I admit that I cringe a little when someone adds an “s” to fruit when referring to this passage. So, let’s take a look at each component:
Love. Why is it listed first? Because it’s the foundation. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 often referred to as the “Love” chapter. With love as the foundation, the other components should not be chores, but givens.
Joy. This word can be confusing. Some equate it with happiness. Happiness seems to be dependent upon when circumstances are favorable. When we see joy in the Bible, circumstances are less than favorable (See James 1:2-3). We don’t rejoice because we have trials, but what the results will be.
I remember singing a song as a child to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” The last line says, “Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.” How do we do that without the foundation of love?
Peace. I grew up in the 70’s. The peace sign was flashed all the time. However, the peace most were pursuing and still pursue was not God’s peace. So, it wasn’t true peace (See Colossians 3:15). Simply put, “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.”
God knew that it wouldn’t always be easy to be at peace with each other (See Hebrews 1:14). Isn’t it interesting that the word “strive” is used in this passage? There may be times we have to fight to keep peace. Remember, the fight is not against flesh and blood. It’s a spiritual battle and one worth fighting (See Ephesians 6:12). Once more, love has to be the foundation.
Patience. Need I say more? Other translations use the word “long-suffering.” Dealing with our fellowman at times takes all the patience we can muster (See Ephesians 4:1-3). I can say from experience that I have tried to rush encounters with those who were a “challenge.” I, myself, have been the challenge as well.
Kindness. Ephesians 4:32 is a command, not a recommendation to be kind to one another. Showing kindness sometimes takes effort and action. But as we show kindness, we see that it's not us that are being a blessing but the ones that are receiving the blessing. What’s our motivation? Our foundation? Love is, of course.
Goodness. Goodness is the act of generosity (See Galatians 6:10). Again, action is required. True generosity isn’t practiced without love. Love must be what drives us to give—our money, talents, time, etc.
Faithfulness. Holman’s Bible Dictionary defines “faithful” as “steadfast, dedicated, dependable and worthy of trust.” Read Hebrews 10:23. Basically, showing up. Good intentions and selfish motives are worthless. If we are going to serve we must stay true to our word and do what we promised. God has always been faithful. We can depend on Him. Can He depend on us? Our motive should be love. As if there was any doubt.
Gentleness. Is there a better word to use to describe a mother’s handling of a newborn (See 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8)? It’s evident in how she cares and speaks to that helpless creature especially in the most trying of times. Actions of gentleness can defuse a tense situation. False gentleness doesn’t seem possible. Love makes it possible.
Self-Control. Listed last and not by accident. Take another look at the above list. It takes active, intentional love. And like all the other components, we need God’s help in exercising self-control (see 2 Timothy 1:7). What other motivation, other than love, drives us to control ourselves.
Father, please cultivate the fruit of the spirit in our lives. May love be our motivation as we strive to be more like You. May others see Your Son in us. Amen
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