But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
I am so excited about this next verse in our challenge. At some point during my middle school or early high school years my mom decided we were going to learn Bible verses together as a family. It was a brief stint in memorization as most of us did not cooperate quite the way she had envisioned, but, this verse was one of the verses we memorized and it has been one that has stuck with me over the years. One of the greatest things about this verse is that is applicable to ourselves and also useful as a tool for seeing the Holy Spirit work in other's lives.
"But the fruit of the Spirit"
The first phrase in this verse and possibly one of the most important is "fruit of the Spirit." The reason this is such an important phrase is because so often, Christianity is viewed through the lens of being legalistic and just another set of rules to follow. Additionally, we can so often feel we must perform or act a certain way get God's attention or for Him to give us good things. However, Paul clearly starts these verses by telling us the list of fruit or virtues that follows is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is the result of living and being led by the Spirit. These attributes are not qualities we as humans are able to simply conjure up and fully live out based solely on a mere drive or desire to be a better person. The one and only way these virtues become part of who we are is through the Holy Spirit growing them in our lives and our hearts. As a result, I believe we can use these verses as a sort of plumb-line in our lives to determine our growth as believers.
The first fruit listed is love. This includes our love for God but in these verses is actually directed more toward our love of others. If you go back and read all of Galatians 5 (which I strongly suggest), you will see in three of the preceding verses, the importance Paul places on love. In verse 14, he quotes from the Old Testament the command to "Love your neighbor as yourself," and then to serve one another humbly in love (v. 13). Finally, in verse 3, he tells us it is not our obedience to the the rules that matters but rather our faith expressing itself through love. Therefore, love is actually the root of all the rest of the fruit listed in these verses.
Next is joy. Joy here is not happiness but is the joy believers have because of salvation. Joy that comes from the Holy Spirit is deep and abiding and remains steadfast in all circumstances even the most difficult of circumstances.
Peace. Peace here is the peace that surpasses understanding. It is a peace that comes from assurance of salvation and as such believers have assurance that despite the circumstances and situations we face in life, Christ is always working for our good. ***I've said it before but I think it bears noting again, I cannot encourage you enough to journal or at least keep a notebook of how God works in your life. One of the best ways to experience peace is by reminding yourself how God has cared for you through past circumstances, difficulties, and life events.***
Forbearance. Some versions of the Bible use the words long-suffering or patience. At this point in the verse, Paul starts describing fruit that are more others focused. So, forbearance or patience here describes our attitude towards others specifically when we have been hurt by another person. It is the ability to carry on without thoughts or actions of retaliation.
Kindness. This is our care and concern for other people. Just as it was God's own kindness towards us that led us to repentance, so we should have the same heart and attitude toward others, always with the goal of turning others toward Christ.
Goodness. Goodness is the state of your heart and the spiritual maturity in your life which shows itself in the way you treat others. This goodness is the ability to do good to others even when it is undeserved and difficult.
Faithfulness. As a fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness does not refer directly to our faith in God and in Jesus Christ but rather to our dependability. It is our trustworthiness in relationships and toward others that proves our faithfulness and that we are, as the saying goes, "a man/woman of our word."
Gentleness. Gentleness is humility and a gentle attitude that is seen even when we are not treated well. Throughout the New Testament, there is an idea that gentleness describes our submission to the will of God, our teachability or our willingness to learn, and our concern and care for others.
Self-control. In the verses immediately preceding verses 22 and 23, Paul lists the acts of the flesh which are obviously in direct contrast to the fruit of the Spirit. There is not doubt that self-control refers to the believer's ability to restrain or control natural human tendencies and desires and to be controlled by the Spirit.
"Against such things there is no law."
The last part of these verses is somewhat of an understatement because on the one hand, laws are not needed to govern people whose lives exemplify the fruit of the Spirit nor are there any laws that prevent these qualities from being displayed in a person's life.
Sweet friends, my prayer is that you all see these fruit of the Spirit being manifested in your life. As you read the Bible, learn Scripture, and spend time in prayer, you will see these qualities develop in your life and mature in your life. I also pray you will pursue relationships with people you see whom already display these fruit. Find a mentor who will pour into you and guide you in your spiritual growth, find friends and peers with whom you can encourage and spur one another on in your walks. Remember, these fruit are not qualities you can simply produce in your life, they are the result of a life that is lived surrendered to Jesus Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can take what is naturally human and transform it into a life characterized by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
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Do not forget to download the lock screen for your phone or tablet, it is a great way to have this verse constantly in front of you as you are memorizing it.
Handlettering by Nicole Baldridge. Find her work on IG @nicolebaldridgedesigns.