Go to a peach orchard and you will find peaches. Go to an apple orchard and you will find apples. There is nothing too deep about these statements and so I doubt anyone would disagree with them. They follow the natural laws of agriculture, rules that we see played out and know exist.
We also understand that peach trees cannot produce apples and neither can peaches come from apple trees. Kind must yield kind. This law of nature comes from God and it has never once failed.
Just as kind must yield kind when it comes to fruit, so it is spiritually. As Jesus said, “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Matt. 7:17-18) He was talking about how we can know false prophets by their fruit. The point is, whatever they do becomes corrupted by their evil, and thus they cannot bear good fruit.
On another occasion Jesus says He is the vine and His followers are the branches. He also teaches that branches can only bear fruit as long as they remain attached to the vine or tree. (John 15:4-6) We understand if you cut a branch from its vine it dies. It cannot bear fruit of its own.
Now let’s turn our mind to the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5. I want you to notice that Paul mentions eight different traits given by the Holy Spirit. They become a part of our lives when we accept Jesus and increase as we grow in the faith. And we learn about them through the Spirit’s work of revealing God’s message. So if we do not have this fruit, then we do not have the Spirit of God living in us.
Paul lists love first, and no wonder, it is the basis for Christianity. The Bible talks about God’s great and matchless love for us. The first and second greatest commandments involve our love for God and our fellowman. (Mark 12:29-31) So all that God did for us and our response to Him centers on love.
Love is not an emotional or fickle feeling, but rather a choice we make. It places the needs of others before self. It cares for the good of all people, not just those we like. Love is sacrificing by its nature and seen by its actions. By it we love the unlovable, even those who mistreat us.
I cannot think of any fruit of the Spirit more important to our happiness and well-being than love. Just think of all the problems it solves. Love banishes hatred from our lives, compassion and forgiveness replace anger, and so even when people mistreat us we love them. We will go the extra mile to help others or to solve strife. It gives us the attitude I would rather someone mistreat me someone else. What a wonderful blessing love is in our lives. (1 Cor. 13:1-8)
Joy is not just a brief giddy feeling we get when something good happens to us. Rather, it is an enduring delight that we carry with us because we are Christians. We learn from the Spirit about God’s love for us and how Jesus died for our sins. Scriptures also teach us to put our faith and trust in His promises and to obey His Will. So we feel good about our place no matter what happens to us. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
Peace is the tranquil state of one’s mind when he knows and serves Christ. I realize that everyone has their share of trouble and heartache, but Christians have an advantage. God is our strength in time of sorrow and our hope for a heavenly life. Therefore, we have a peace of mind as we seek peace with God and our fellowman. (Phil. 4:6-7)
I do not know of anyone who has too much patience, that is, who is too steadfast or longsuffering. However, we are sometimes too quick to anger, to give up, to give in, or to let sin bring us down. The Spirit of God reveals why and how to overcome and endure whatever this life throws at us. Remember, we must remain faithful in this life to enjoy the rewards of heaven. (James 1:2-4)
Next, Paul says that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. The word refers to a gentle spirit, and it helps to keep us from becoming easily ruffled when people mistreat us. Kindness has a calming effect when others irritate us. So instead of treating people the way they treat us, we treat them right no matter their actions.
If kindness is a gentle spirit, then goodness is its effect. A little later in Galatians Paul tells Christians to “do good to all.” (Gal. 6:10) James says, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) We should practice hospitality, benevolence, and give care to those in need. We must forgive those who trespass against us. Teaching the lost and strengthening one another is good.
The Holy Spirit gives us what we need for faithfulness in His Word. We read about God’s love, forgiveness, and promises in the Bible. What more do we need? No one wants to shirk their duty if the fruit of the Spirit is in them. (Heb. 10:23)
Gentleness, or humility, helps us to accept our place in life and keeps us away from pride. It also helps us to think of others more than we do of ourselves and to put their needs before our own. If you want to know what humility is, look to Jesus. He gave up His place in heaven, lived in the form of man, and died on the cross all for our benefit. (Phil. 2:1-8)
The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control, which is the ability to rein in our wants, emotions, and thoughts. We should keep in mind the power of temptation and Satan never gives up. Even Paul had to exercise discipline in his life, and if he did so must we. (1 Cor. 9:27)
If all of these traits are not in your life, then the fruit of the Spirit is missing. We need to harvest what the Holy Spirit has given us. Without His fruit we will starve spiritually.