Christians are well aware of The Fruits of the Spirit. You probably quickly blaze through them, just like I do. We hear them quoted in our churches on a consistent basis, and we know that these fruits are meant to be an overflow of what Christ has done in our life.
“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
These qualities seem so basic, yet so difficult to live out. Obviously, none of these are possible apart from the power of the Holy Spirit and none of them are perfected in this lifetime. The Apostle Paul writes these to the Church of Galatia as a charge toward their higher calling in Christ, so that they would not put too much attention on perfecting the law, but rather they would learn to abide in the Lord.
My hope for this blog is to briefly look into each of these Fruits of the Spirit, and to reference other passages of Scripture where God uses common, everyday people to live out each quality. Each Scripture reference will be considered to relate to each of the Fruits of the Spirit. This approach has helped me be more tangible and practical with striving to seek out opportunities to demonstrate these in my life. This will be a 3 part blog series, each covering 3 of the fruits.
- Love (Matthew 5:43-48)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Love is a common word that we say quite often. Fill in the blank: I love_____. Although it is not bad to use the word love in this way, it is important to differentiate between that kind of love, and the love that Jesus teaches about here in The Sermon on the Mount. When looking at The Fruits of the Spirit, love is the first one referenced. That’s because love is the foundation to everything else. Without love, everything else will be done in vain. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, the Apostle Paul speaks of all of the “good” acts that can be done, but at the end of the day, these actions are worthless without love at the core.
As Jesus teaches in this passage, this type of love should expect nothing in return. This love does not look for recognition nor attention. It’s the little things that no one else sees and it’s not seeking for gratification. It’s solely a reflection and overflow of the love that we have received from God. Humble, selfless and consistent. Personally, this type of love is the most difficult for me because my flesh desires to be noticed and affirmed, but time and time again, Jesus demonstrates this approach.
When Jesus teaches on prayer and fasting, he never calls for us to do these things out of attention, but rather out of pure devotion to him. Matthew 6:7, 14: “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words…And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites..”
This approach to love is not only contrary to what the world believes love is, but it’s also extremely eye opening and humbling. Knowing that we are not to love for selfish gain and attention can be quite a tough truth to swallow, but it honestly should relieve and take the pressure off of ourselves. We are not called to love out of performance and recognition, but rather out of pure devotion to Christ. As we love, we entrust God to take care of the rest.
Reflection: How should this approach to love change the way you live your life?
- Joy (Philippians 2:1-2)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
The second Fruit of the Spirit is joy. This passage in Philippians comes from the Apostle Paul, to the church of Philippi. In this passage, Paul gets to the core of what joy is all about. Just as Jesus spoke of this joy as being evidence in our lives, Paul speaks to the church of Philippi about what actually makes up this evidence of joy in our lives: unity.
In this passage, Paul refers to the joy that the church of Philippi brings him. As he played a significant role for them in leadership, there is one trait that encourages him more than anything, and that is joy. At the center of this joy is unity. Paul uses language like same and one. Paul’s joy for this church is only made complete if they are in unity with each other and are keeping the main thing the main thing.
True joy is only found when the Church is in unity with each other. Yes, Christians should each individually have joy, but the Church should collectively have joy. When we demonstrate and live out this joy as a church, we will be better equipped to live out this joy as an individual and follower of Christ.
Reflection: What are some ways that you can help your church focus on unity in order for joy to be put on display collectively and invididually?
- Peace (Romans 5:1)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
True peace is such a remarkable quality that only Christians can have. Other people are searching for peace within the circumstances of their life, but Christians look much further than that. True peace only comes from what Jesus Christ has done for us. Paul tells the Romans that, therefore, since we have experienced justification by putting our faith in Jesus, we can now have true fulfilling peace.
The ESV Study Bible refers to this peace as being the product of our relationship with God. Everyone who works in sales is alway trying to advertise, market and sell their product. As Christians, the product that we can offer is peace with God. We have discovered the only way to bridge the gap from us to God, and it’s peace because of Jesus. This should be so evident in our lives that others see it and want it, which results in us sharing it.
Reflection: Have you ever thought of peace as being a product of our salvation? How does this change the way you live your life?
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