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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, June 13 2024

The fruit of the Holy Spirit

What does the holy, righteous, pure and perfect character of God look like as it’s being developed in an individual? God inspired Paul to list nine key virtues of God’s character in Galatians 5:22-23.

Most of us want to believe human beings are basically good at heart, but the Bible reveals this is not the case. Jeremiah wrote: “The human heart is the most deceitful of 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).

God tells us in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” His plan of salvation, revealed in the Bible, involves replacing our natural minds and hearts with the mind and heart of God. This is why Paul wrote “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), and “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). This miracle is accomplished primarily by the power of God’s Holy Spirit working within us.

The book of Galatians is one of Paul’s most corrective epistles. Alarmed that those who had initially responded to God’s calling were later led astray by false teachers, Paul points out numerous contrasts between God’s truth and the false teachings deceiving them, contrasting the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21 and the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, which is listed as: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [and] self-control.”

Following are brief summaries of each of the nine fruits of God’s Holy Spirit Paul listed:

The fruit of love

Love is a major theme of the Bible, with the word “love” appearing in the New King James version 362 times. The two “great” commandments are to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:35-39). The ten commandments show us how to do this as 1 John 5:3 states, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” The Bible’s use of the word “love” emphasizes action, not feelings and emotions. We love God by obeying, worshiping and serving Him, and we love others by how we treat them. Loving our neighbor means treating others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12)). Godly love is also summarized in 1 Corinthians 13, which is often referred to as the “love chapter.”

The fruit of joy

God commands us to rejoice. In the New King James Version, “joy” appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears 199 times. The joy referred to as a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit is more than just having fun. We should feel a sense of gratitude for all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us. Rejoicing is a way of expressing that gratitude, and uplifts those around us.

The fruit of peace

The word “peace” is found in the New King James Version 397 times. To live in a peaceful environment is a huge blessing, but when we have God’s Spirit we can have inner peace even when we are suffering or surrounded by turmoil: “Don’t worry…pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace….[which] will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We should also strive to be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18).

The fruit of longsuffering

The majority of English Bibles translate the Greek word ‘makrothumia’ as longsuffering, but it can also be translated as patience, tolerance or forbearance. The Greek word makro means “large” or “long.” The root word thumos means “temper.” Therefore, makrothumia literally means long-tempered, the opposite of having a short fuse. 1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us: “love suffers long,” and 2 Peter 3:9 says Jesus Christ is “longsuffering toward us.” (2 Peter 3:9). We must strive to be “ quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19).

The fruit of kindness

The fruits of God’s Spirit overlap in practice, and kindness also relates to love, longsuffering and gentleness, and includes being tenderhearted, merciful and compassionate toward others. Exercising kindness often involves self-sacrifice and generosity, especially of our time (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 5:7;10:42 and 25:34-40). Jesus Christ’s example of kindness was radical for that time and culture. When He saw suffering, He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36; 14:14 and 18:27). and He did not discriminate, respecting, loving, helping and healing all, including women, children, minorities, the poor, the sick and those with disabilities (Luke 6:27-36).

The fruit of goodness

In the Bible, the “goodness” of God often refers to His gracious generosity in providing abundantly for mankind’s needs (Psalms 23:6 and 65:11). God’s goodness is the essence of His nature of righteousness and holiness. The Bible gives us God’s complete “instruction in righteous-ness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. King David wrote: “All Your commandments are [or define] righteousness” (Psalms 119:172). Having a lot of Bible knowledge does not make us ‘good’ if we are not living by that knowledge (James 4:17; Luke 12:47-48). We must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:21-25).

The fruit of faithfulness

When a person is baptized, he or she enters into a covenant with God, promising to be faithful to God and, at that time, the gift of the Holy Spirit strengthens us in our commitment to God. We all 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 it as “meekness,” but newer Bibles usually translate it as “gentleness.” People often misunderstand what meekness is, and relate it to weakness, but true meekness comes from inner strength and resolve. Consider the great contrast between meekness and some of the “works of the flesh,” which Paul lists as “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions” (Galatians 5:19-21). Jesus stated: “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 translated as “temperance” in some older Bible versions, but “self-control” is a good translation, because it includes the concept of self-discipline.Of all the things we have to govern in this life, self is often the biggest challenge. We must rule over our appetites and desires, waging spiritual warfare and “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

To conquer the “works of the flesh” we need the gift of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 tells us the “deep things of God” are a “mystery” and “hidden” until God reveals them “through His Spirit.” With God’s Spirit dwelling in us, we can have a close, intimate relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3-7). And along with Paul, we can say, “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).