The Fruit of the Spirit

What would it be like to live in a world dominated by love, joy, and peace? What would it be like to be surrounded by people marked by patience, kindness, goodness? How aweseome would it be for faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to be normal?

This is the world that awaits those who are in Christ; this is the reality for which followers of Jesus are destined. The future age in which God’s people will have direct and unmediated access into and with God will be marked by these amazing attributes – love and peace and joy and kindness and goodness. This is the beautiful inheritance God has ordained for his children.

But, you might ask – what about life now? Rather than the sweet bye and bye, what about the dirty here and now? It is in the midst of this life – a life marked by pain and failure and sin and immorality – it is in this life that we need help.

As beautiful as genuine love is as an antidote to transactional relationships, how often do we experience unloving people? As refreshing as joy can be for a downtrodden soul, how much more often do we experience scepticism? As encouraging as kindness is, how often in the course of a normal day do we experience a lack of kindness? How normal is it to bump into anger and resentment and hostility and frustration?

The amazing promise of God is that by the Spirit of God we can enjoy now the realities of the future age. That is, by the Spirit, we become partakers of the age to come, and, while not perfectly, we can know and experience and walk in the qualitative dimensions of the inheritance God has for us.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul refers to these qualitative markers of the age to come as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22). The key words – the ‘fruits’ – are well known: love, joy, and peace; patience, kindness, and goodness; faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But there are two things I want you to see about these ‘fruits’.

First, notice that Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits. Fruit is singular, not plural. That is, these individual ‘fruits’ like love and joy and peace – these are just really part of the fruit of the Spirit. That is, it is the Spirit working in our lives that manifests these different qualitative features.

So the key is the Spirit, not the individual manifestations. Said differently – if you want your life to be full of this fruit, you want a life that is full of the Spirit. That is, this package of outcomes is the fruit of where the Spirit is, where the Spirit is working, and where the Spirit is producing.

But this is what you REALLY need to see: these are not suggested behaviour patterns; this is not Paul telling the Christians in Galatia to go be loving! Go be joyful! Go walk in peace! Rather, Paul is giving them the secret to experiencing this fruit, and it has nothing to do with ‘trying to be loving’ any more than trying to get the fruit of an apple tree has to do with ‘go make an apple’.

Think about that apple tree for a minute. How do we get apples? We get apples as an indirect but predictable outcome of planting an apple seed that produces an apple tree. Apples come from apple trees, and apple trees come from apple seeds.

In the same way, the fruit of the Spirit comes from the Spirit. That is, when we our lives are planted in the Spirit, when we are ‘walking by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5.16), there will be a natural outcome, and that outcome is the fruit of love and joy and peace and patience and the rest.

So rather than doing anything, the Lord invites us to a life of being – being dialed in, rooted in, planted in, open to, enjoying, and walking in the Spirit. In short, the beautiful fruit of the Spirit is simply the outcome of walking in the Spirit. So to enjoy this fruit, position your life every day to walk in and with the Spirit. You have never ever tasted anything so good.