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Do we have to have all of the fruits of the spirit?
What about peace?
Gentleness too? Oh boy.
What if we struggle with one or two – oh who are we kidding – or ALL of these?
Is there anything we can do to improve? Or do we just chalk it up to “I’m only human.”
I am happy to say we don’t have to go far to find answers.
If we read the verses around the fruit verses, we will find some insight.
Let’s start with the first 5 words because they are key …
Galatians 5:22-25 NLT: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
See what I mean?
Now allow me to repeat verse 24 …
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
A few years ago, our church had a service where we each literally nailed a note to a wooden cross.
How can we literally nail our old sinful nature to the cross and walk away?
Let’s back up to verses 16-17 …
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Told you we didn’t have to go far. I think we’ve found our answer.
Walk by the Spirit.
But how, exactly?
Let’s read verse 16 in the always helpful Amplified version …
But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].
Habitually seek Him.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “As verse 16 indicated, there is no need for a believer to display the works of the flesh. Rather, by the Spirit’s power he can manifest the nine graces that are listed. It is important to observe that the fruit here described is not produced by a believer, but by the Holy Spirit working through a Christian who is in vital union with Christ (John 15:1-8). The word “fruit” is singular, indicating that these qualities constitute a unity, all of which should be found in a believer who lives under the control of the Spirit. In an ultimate sense this “fruit” is simply the life of Christ lived out in a Christian.”
What? The word “fruit” is singular!
So, yes, we should have all of the fruits of the Spirit!
They’re a package deal.
And they all find their source in God (not us). The more we seek the Source, the bigger the fruit will grow.
“God prefers fruits of the Spirit over religious nuts.” -Adrian Rogers
So I decided to go on a hunt to see what kind of supportive verses there were for these fruits.
In doing so, God made it abundantly clear that I cannot try, try, try again to develop them.
Every single fruit had one or more supporting verses that they are from God alone!
He just wants me to keep seeking Him.
He will do the developing.
See for yourself …
Love is poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit (not me).
Romans 5:5: and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Joy is from Jesus (not me).
John 15:11: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Peace comes from Christ (not me).
Colossians 3:15 NLT: And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Patience comes from Christ (not me).
2 Thessalonians 3:5 NLT: May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
Kindness is from the Holy Spirit (not me).
2 Corinthians 6:6 NLT: We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
Goodness is from the Lord (not me).
2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT: So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Faithfulness is from the Lord, my portion (not me).
Lamentations 3:21-25: But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
Gentleness is from the generosity of Christ (not me).
Ephesians 4:2-7 NLT: Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.
Self-Control is from my Creator (not me).
Colossians 3:9-10: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Systematic Theology – An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine sums it up nicely. “If the Holy Spirit is genuinely at work in our lives, he will be producing the kinds of character traits that Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” Of course, the question is not, “Do I perfectly exemplify all of these characteristics in my life?” but rather, “Are these things a general characteristic of my life? Do I sense these attitudes in my heart?”
So let’s ask ourselves.
Do others (especially those close to me) see these traits exhibited in my life?
Have I been growing in them over a period of years?
We need to ask these questions because …
Matthew 7:16-20: You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
May we ask, learn, and grow so we will walk by the Spirit and be recognized by ALL His fruits.
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