The Fruit of the Spirit is a Believer's Ministry
by Hugh Houchin 11/02/2011 / Christian Living
Occasionally, in my quiet time, God reveals I'm reading His Word as if I'm just reading a book. I may be pleasure reading with the same attitude as when I read a story; or maybe I've skimmed a passage like a genealogy. He lets me know when I've fallen into a reading trap when I read a thought-provoking verse, or passage, that slips into my consciousness and snaps me back to reality.
Some time ago, God used Galatians 5:22, 23 to arrest my wandering train of thought; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Hmm, why do those verses list more than one "fruit of the Spirit," but the word "fruit" is singular?
To begin with, when those two verses refer to the "fruit of the Spirit," they disclose the "fruit" is characteristic of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus, believers receive "fruit" from the Holy Spirit that indwells them.. However, because it's singular it signifies that the Spirit doesn't parcel out the "fruit" one or two at a time, but as one all-inclusive gift. This means that not only can believer's love, but can also, simultaneously, emanate joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The difficulty, though, lies in comprehending that truth.
For example, knowing me as I do, my first thought concerns the Holy Spirit's dubious task of bringing the "fruit of the Spirit" to fruition in me. If you, too, tend to resist change read with me Matthew 19:26. "And looking at them Jesus said to them, 'With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" That should eliminate any doubts.
The discussion of this phenomenon begins with Galatians 5:16, where Paul says, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh." In other words, when we "walk by the Spirit," we display the "fruit of the Spirit." This, fellow believers, is a command; Paul does not say he hopes, wishes, or suggests believers walk by the Spirit; he says do it. How, though, are we transformed?
In 1Peter 1:15, 16, the Apostle Peter supplies the answer, "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, you shall be holy, for I am holy." In His holiness, Jesus Christ exhibited the "fruit of the Spirit," and because His Spirit abides in us, we are able to do the same. Ezekiel 36:27 prophesied, "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." Then, in 1John 3:24, the Apostle John summarized, "The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us."
If you have, questions about walking in the Spirit, prayerfully respond to James 1:5. "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
Remember: Our sanctification is a lifelong process. Be patient, God can, and will, make it happen.
All scripture passages are from the NASB.
Hugh Houchin is retired, but enjoys fulltime freelance writing. His publishing credits include articles and columns in western Nebraska newspapers and numerous websites.