Fruits of the Spirit
As those of you who have been part of our worshiping community these past few weeks know, I am preaching a sermon series this summer on the fruits of the Spirit, with special emphasis on growing these fruits within ourselves and within others.
Next up? Patience. But you’ll have to wait for it (how appropriate is that?) as I will be at the beach this weekend. In the meantime, I thought I could share my working definitions for all these fruits. And, as a gentle reminder, these are fruits, not gifts. You can’t expect God to just drop these things into your lap. They take cultivation and pruning, etc. In that regard, they are like prayer–first you pray, then you act; that’s how prayer works.
So here are what the Scriptures say are the fruits of the Spirit:
Fruits of the Spirit Definitions
The fruits of the Spirit are the virtues of Jesus.
Selfless giving for the sake of another. This kind of love is not a feeling, but an action taken for the benefit of another.
A deep-seated feeling related to contentedness and thanksgiving that does not depend on external circumstances. Happiness comes and goes. Joy stays. It comes from knowing that you are God’s beloved child and that God will take care of you in life and in death.
An inner calmness despite whatever is going on around you. This peace passes all understanding because all our wants and needs have been turned over to the God who loves us (Philippians 4). Shalom (Hebrew for peace) in the Old Testament comes from living in harmony with nature and with those around you and with the laws of God.
Can also be translated as steadfastness or endurance. “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.” (Ps. 130) It comes from knowing that God’s purposes will win out in God’s good time. Patience toward others comes from knowing that everyone has a story and carries burdens–and that they, too, are God’s beloved children.
This word can also be translated as goodness or generosity. It is related to the Greek word for usefulness. So, kindness here means an act (or a word) that lifts someone up or is helpful to them.
Can also be translated as goodness (in the sense of being useful, capable, fit) or uprightness. In this context, since goodness and usefulness are covered by the previous gift (kindness), modern translators render this word as generosity. Generosity comes from trusting God enough not to hoard. Those who trust God know they may not ever have everything they want but will always have enough.
Endurance, dependability, loyalty, commitment. A literal translation of Romans 3:22 would be “The righteousness of God (has been revealed) through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.” The Jesus who went to the cross to make sinners right with God tells you all you need to know about faithfulness.
Also humility, courtesy. To deal gently and humbly with others requires a sense of inner strength. Those who lack this strength must prove themselves right or more powerful than others. Those whose strength comes from God working in them can afford to be gentle and humble.
Not a slave to your emotions or your desires. Your filters are in place. People with self-control think about what effect their words will have before they say them. They think about what will result from their deeds before they act.
Pastor Mark Walters