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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, November 09 2023

The fruit of the Holy Spirit

God inspired the Apostle Paul to list the ‘fruits’ of God’s Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, which are developed once we are baptized, receive the Holy Spirit and begin our spiritual journey, growing in the knowledge and grace of God.

As human beings we like to think we are basically good at heart, but the Bible tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus Christ said, “... out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22).. Many factors contribute to the formation of a person’s character and personality, but people are not inherently righteous.

God’s plan of salvation involves the process of replacing our natural minds and hearts with the mind and heart of God, which is accomplished by the power of God’s Holy Spirit working within us. Our thoughts and actions must conform to God’s standards, which is why Paul instructed “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

The fruits of God’s Holy Spirit and the key virtues of His character listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” which are contrasted with the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21.

The fruit of love

Love is a major theme of the Bible, with the word “love” appearing 362 times. The two “great” commandments are to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39) and the ten commandments tell us how to do this. The emphasis is on action and doing, not feelings and emotions.

We love God by obeying, worshiping and serving Him. 1 John 5:3 tells us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” We show love to people by how we treat them: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12)). Godly love is summarized in 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter,” where Paul says if I “have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

The fruit of joy

In the New King James Version, “joy” appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears 199 times. Once God opens our mind to understand God’s truth, we should feel a sense of gratitude for all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us. A joyful person uplifts those around him and makes the world a better place. All the fruits of the Spirit are important ingredients to being “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). People are much more likely to have a good impression of our religious beliefs if they see joy and the other virtues in our character and personality.

The fruit of peace

The word “peace” is found in the New King James Version 397 times. We are to be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18). When we have God’s Spirit we can have inner peace although we are suffering or surrounded by turmoil: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

The fruit of longsuffering

The majority of English Bibles translate the Greek word ‘makrothumia’ as longsuffering. Terms such as patience, tolerance or forbearance have been used in modern times. The Greek word makro (from which we get macro) means “large” or “long,” and the root word thumos means “temper.” Therefore, makrothumia literally means long-tempered, the opposite of having a short fuse. “Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4) and Jesus Christ is “longsuffering toward us” (2 Peter 3:9). Our relationships with others should be “with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). We must be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19).

The fruit of kindness

Kindness relates to love, longsuffering and gentleness, and involves being merciful and compassionate toward others. Exercising kindness often involves some self-sacrifice and generosity on our part, especially of our time (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 5:7 and 25:34-40).

We should follow Christ’s example who practiced a kindness that was radical for that time and culture. He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36 and 14:14) and loved, healed and helped every type of person, including women, children, the poor, the sick and those with disabilities. We should also show kindness and compassion towards those who have not been kind or thoughtful towards us (Luke 6:27-36).

The fruit of goodness

The “goodness” of God often refers to His gracious generosity in providing abundantly for mankind’s needs (Psalms 23:6). It is the essence of His nature of righteousness and holiness. His standards of goodness are reflected in the Ten Commandments: “All Your commandments are [or define] righteousness” (Psalms 119:172). Some people make the mistake of thinking they are good if they have a lot of Bible knowledge, but we have to live by that knowledge. We must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:21-25).

The fruit of faithfulness

Most Bible versions translate the Greek word pistis in Galatians 5:22 as “faithfulness,” although it is usually translated as “faith” in other verses. Faithfulness enables a person to persevere and remain steadfast. When a person is baptized, he or she enters a covenant with God, promising to remain faithful. “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit within us greatly strengthens a person’s ability to stay faithful to God.

All those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ hope to hear these words when resurrected to eternal life: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21-23).

The fruit of meekness and gentleness

The next Greek word in Galatians 5:22-23 is praotes. Older English Bibles usually translate this word as “meekness,” but newer Bibles often translate it as “gentleness.” Gentleness refers mostly to actions, whereas meekness refers to attitude as well as actions. God highly prizes meekness and gentleness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

The fruit of self-control

The last virtue in Galatians 5:23 is referred to as “temperance” in some older Bible versions, but the meaning has changed over time and has come to mean moderation. “Self-control” is a good translation. We need self-control to maintain and develop all the other virtues. We must rule over our appetites, desires, impulses and reactions, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Shortly before Jesus returned to heaven, He told His disciples they would soon receive “power from on high” (Luke 24:49). That power is what we must have to rule over self, and yield to God working in us. To conquer the “works of the flesh” and produce the fruit of the Spirit, we need the gift of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.