22,23 “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 (NASB)
Athletes are given an identity by their sport. They are rarely introduced in public by their names only – they are introduced with the identity of a team, title, award or championship. Trophies, ribbons, rings, plaques and medals are the “fruit” of their sport.
When a person begins a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his or her life (Romans 8:9-11).
As the Spirit is allowed free control of that life, He produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. These traits can be found in any person, but the Spirit produces them in Christ-followers at levels that cannot be explained by human effort.
A fruit tree is identified by its fruit. Apple trees grow apples; orange trees grow oranges. In the same manner, Christ-followers are identified by the fruit of the Spirit, the character traits that He produces in their lives.
Notice the list in these verses (Galatians 5:22,23). These character traits become obvious in two realms. Love, patience, kindness, faithfulness and gentleness show up in our relationships. Joy, peace, and self-control affect our personal well-being.
The growth of the fruit of the Spirit takes time. When we become Christians, God does not just drop a bigger and better fuse box into our lives so that we are instantly more patient or kind.
Over the course of our lives He uses our circumstances to reveal how we fall short in responding in godly ways. He enables us to trust Him to help us act or respond as Jesus would.
An apple tree does not strain to produce apples. They grow as long as the branch remains connected to the tree for its sustenance.
In like manner, as we depend on Christ to do His work in and through us, the fruit of the Spirit will grow.
What happens when the fruit of the Spirit grows in us? We are better equipped to serve others, another aspect of our identity in Christ. Check out tomorrow’s entry.