Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The first thing that I want to point out is that the word fruit, in our scripture, is singular. It is one Fruit.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the qualities that make up the Fruit. There are not nine different fruits—it is a nine-part Fruit. The Fruit is like an orange, and inside the orange, there are numerous slices. So, imagine that each slice of the orange is one of the aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit.
The original Greek word for “Fruit” in Galatians 5 is karpos, and one definition means “a result of something.” When the Fruit of the Spirit is displayed in our lives, it is a sign, or result, that we are being led by the Spirit of God. Just like the branches of a grapevine have to be connected to the vine in order to bear grapes, the Fruit of the Spirit is evidence of being connected to Christ.
Let’s start by talking about the difference between the Gifts of the Spirit and Fruit of the Spirit. The Church today is more knowledgeable than ever before about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but we have a lack of understanding about our spiritual “fruit.” We need to make sure that we understand the differences and the connection between the “Fruit of the Spirit” and “gifts of the Spirit.”
Gifts of the Spirit
First of all let’s remember;
James 1:16-18 NIV Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (emphasis mine)..
Now let’s identify what the Bible means by “gifts” versus “fruit.”
The scriptures reveal that every believer is given at least one spiritual gift.
1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11 NIV Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Gifts such as leadership, wisdom, pastoring, encouragement, knowledge and prophecy are given by the Spirit for the purpose of building up believers.
Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The Fruit is produced by the Spirit and is developed and displayed in us when we yield ourselves to God’s Spirit.
Paul mentions the Fruit of the Spirit because of what proceeded it.
Galatians 5:17-21 NIV For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (emphasis mine).
These sinful acts include sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, and drunkenness. These things exist because of our human nature, or the flesh, and it is all of our human desires. Our flesh wants things that prevent God’s Holy Spirit from leading and controlling us. The flesh’s desires are contrary to the Spirit. In other words; you can be led by the flesh, or you can be led by the Spirit of God, but you can’t be led by both—they are in constant conflict.
Getting back to the Fruit of the Spirit, the Bible says that there is no law against love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So we can exhibit the Fruit without any limits or restrictions. We can never show too much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
If we want to know how we’re growing as followers of Christ, we shouldn’t focus on how gifted we are or how well we use our gifts. It’s the evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives that shows our spiritual maturity.
Gifts and Fruit
Not that our gifts aren’t valuable or vital--they are. It’s just that we can operate in our gifts while we are gratifying our flesh. Exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit is a manifestation of a transformed life by the power of God.
It isn’t uncommon to see men and women operate in their spiritual gifts but then immediately act in a sinful way. Why? Because God will use whomever He wants, whenever He wants, and however He wants. Maybe you’ve seen someone preach the most powerful sermon only to see them spew hatred to others later. A person may give generously of their time to impact those less fortunate but then turn around and be incredibly impatient and rude with their own children, spouse or friends.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
The “fruit” of the Spirit, on the other hand, is the expression of our renewed nature as it is seen by others. The gifts receive far more attention and accolades than the quiet, almost hidden Fruit of the Spirit. Yet, it really doesn’t take tremendous effort to operate in our gifts. The Fruit, on the other hand, involves the difficult task of dying to self everyday. The Fruit may not be shouting for attention but rest assured, we always know when the Fruit is present in our lives and when it is not.
Matthew 7:16-23 NIV By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Jesus is coming for those who possess His nature. It doesn’t matter whether or not you speak in tongues or if God uses you to prophesy. Jesus is coming back to connect with those who possess His own nature; and that goes far beyond merely exercising spiritual gifts.