The Fruit of the Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
(Galatians 5:22)

The Holy Spirit is the means by which we grow in Christ. If the Holy Spirit is working in us through the means of grace, there are certain evidences of fruit that should be manifested in our lives. Paul describes these in Galatians 5. This fruit is a portrait of Jesus, and it is also a picture of the Christian’s life.

The first three of these evidences – love, joy, and peace – describe our relationship to God. The Holy Spirit puts God’s love in our hearts, God’s joy in our souls, and God’s peace in our minds. Everything a Christian does is, or ought to be, conceived in love, undertaken in joy, and accomplished in peace.

The second three – patience, kindness, and goodness – describe what should be our relationship to others; the patience that bears the rudeness and unkindness of other people and refuses to retaliate, the kindness that turns such tolerance into a benevolence that is not content with indifference but insists on love, and then the goodness that turns the wish into deed and begins to take the initiative in serving other people according to their need.

The final three – faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – describe our relationship to ourselves. Faithfulness is dependability that always keeps a promise and completes a task. Gentleness is not a quality of the weak, but the strong and energetic who have their strength and energy under control. Self-control involves mastering the tongue, the thoughts, the appetites, and the passions.

This fruit taken together is kept in balance. The Holy Spirit is not satisfied, for example, if we display plenty of love for other people but don’t have control over our lives: if we display much joy and peace but no kindness: if there is gentleness in our lives, but no firmness or dependability. We need all of these.

The fruit of the Spirit is not something that we can produce by our efforts, resources, and ingenuity. The Spirit, through the means of grace, is the divine gardener who cultivates this fruit in the life of believers. We need to note that Paul deliberately contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh (what we can produce with our own efforts). We need the humility to acknowledge that we cannot produce these fruits by ourselves. So, we should invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, as we receive him in word and sacrament, to work God’s will through us.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and KINDLE in them the fire of your love. Amen

In His Peace,
Pastor Schultz

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