The Fruit of the Spirit
„But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal 5:22.23)
It is significant that the apostle distinguishes between the works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit. Works are produced by human energy. Fruit is grown as a branch abides in the vine (John 15:5). They differ as a factory and a garden differ.
Note that fruit is singular, not plural. The Holy Spirit produces one kind of fruit, that is, Christlikeness. All the virtues now listed describe the life of the child of God. Dr. C. I. Scofield has pointed out that every one of them is foreign to the soil of the human heart.
Love is what God is, and what we ought to be. It is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13, and told out in all its fullness at the cross of Calvary.
Joy is contentment and satisfaction with God and with His dealings. Christ displayed it in John 4:34.
Peace could include the peace of God as well as harmonious relations among Christians. For peace in the life of the Redeemer, see Luke 8:22-25.
Longsuffering is patience in afflictions, annoyances, and persecutions. Its supreme example is found in Luke 23:34.
Kindness is gentleness, perhaps best explained in the attitude of the Lord toward little children (Mark 10:14).
Goodness is kindness shown to others. To see goodness in action, we have but to read Luke 10:30-35.
Faithfulness may mean trust in God, confidence in our fellow Christians, fidelity, or reliability. This latter is probably the meaning here.
Gentleness is taking the lowly place as Jesus did when He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).
Self-control means literally holding oneself in, especially regarding sex. Our lives should be disciplined. Lust, passions, appetites, and temper should be ruled. We should practice moderation.
As Samuel Chadwick points out:
In newspaper English the passage reads something like this: the fruit of the Spirit is an affectionate, lovable disposition; a radiant spirit and a cheerful temper; a tranquil mind and a quiet manner; a forbearing patience in provoking circumstances and with trying people; a sympathetic insight and tactful helpfulness; generous judgment and a big-souled charity; loyalty and reliableness under all circumstances; humility that forgets self in the joy of others; in all things self-mastered and self-controlled, which is the final mark of perfection. How striking this is in relation to 1 Cor. 13!
Paul closes this list with the cryptic comment: „Against such there is no law.” Of course not! These virtues are pleasing to God, beneficial to others, and good for ourselves.
But how is this fruit produced? Is it by man’s effort? Not at all. It is produced as Christians live in communion with the Lord. As they gaze upon the Savior in loving devotion, and obey Him in daily life, the Holy Spirit works a wonderful miracle. He transforms them into the likeness of Christ. They become like Him by beholding Him (2 Cor. 3:18).
Just as the branch derives all its life and nourishment from the vine, so the believer in Christ derives his strength from the True Vine, and is thus able to live a fruitful life for God.
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