Galatians 5.22-24 – Fruit

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

(NET)

As Paul wrote back in v.16, believers are not to carry out the desires of the flesh. Here in vv.22-24, he details three sets of three characteristics that will be on show when we are led by the Spirit (v.18). 

First, we should notice that this fruit, this manifesting and evidencing character, is of the Spirit, not of the believer. This means that try as you might, you will never work hard enough to be able to produce this kind of life. It comes, as Paul writes, of the Spirit. Then, the three threes.

First, three habits of mind: love, joy, peace. All three find their root in God (1 John 4.8, John 3.16, 15.11, 14.27).

Then, three attitudes toward others: patience, kindness, goodness. Living with the aforementioned three, this next three (should) become our steady-state of interaction with others (2 Corinthians 6.6, Colossians 1.11, Ephesians 2.7).

Finally, three examples of the general conduct of a believer: faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Being led by the Spirit, bearing the singular fruit Paul writes about, being faithful, gentle, and self-controlled leaves us in a position wherein we cause no offence to anyone (v.23b). 

Paul then underscores this for the Galatians – and us by extension – and says that those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (v.24). This is not to say that we are all to engage in self-crucifixion or self-mortification, rather that this fruit is only borne in our lives when we have put our faith in Jesus and are being led by His Spirit. To try and achieve this multi-faceted yet singular state of character is akin to the works-based righteousness efforts that the Galatians have been scolded for making.

The fruit of the Spirit is not produced by you or by me, even by us collectively if we pool our resources and efforts. It is produced in all its beautiful unity when the life of Christ is lived out in a Christian (Philippians 1.21).

Today then, rather than trying to be more loving, kinder, more patient, or gentler, focus more on your faith in Jesus, your relationship with Jesus, and watch in awe as the fruit of the Spirit is borne in you! 

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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