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10 Things You Should Know About the Fruit of the Spirit

The prickly vines in my (Melissa’s) backyard just bloomed with small flowers. In a few weeks, they’ll transform into the largest and juiciest blackberries you can imagine. My plum tree is bursting with tiny buds that will continue to grow all summer and find their way into my favorite jams and cobblers. My fig tree has new fruit growing that will mature throughout the summer and eventually be paired with goat cheese and honey.

Just as physical fruit is a delight to our senses, spiritual fruit is a delight to our souls. Through the Spirit working within us, God produces a harvest of good fruit that can be shared with others. As we anticipate his harvest, here are 10 things we can savor about spiritual fruit, from the authors of our new devotional, Fruitful: Cultivating a Spiritual Harvest that Won’t Leave You Empty.

1. The fruit of the Spirit points us to Jesus.
(Megan Hill and Melissa Kruger)

The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 is a familiar list of virtues. You may have memorized it or learned a childhood song based on it. On good days, it’s an encouraging list—a reminder the Spirit is at work in you. On bad days, it can be a crushing list—a testimony to how far you have yet to go.

But the fruit of the Spirit isn’t merely intended for self-examination. The list of fruit in Paul’s epistle points us upward, away from ourselves, toward our Savior. Jesus is the only perfectly loving man, the only perfectly joyful man, the only perfectly peaceful man. Day after day in his earthly ministry, and still to this minute, he kept in step with the Spirit (v. 25). And he did this for us.

The list of fruit in Paul’s epistle points us upward, away from ourselves, toward our Savior.

He was patient where we aren’t, kind where we fail, and good where we stumble. His is the perfect righteousness for all who lack faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we abide in him, we become like him, bearing good fruit that will last.

Do you want to know what Jesus is like—and what he accomplished on your behalf? Savor the fruit of the Spirit.

2. Love is more than a feeling.
(Abbey Wedgeworth)

One thing you should know about love is that it’s not actually a feeling at all. More often than not, love is a choice we make or an action we take despite our feelings. It’s something we simply cannot conjure up within ourselves—because love comes from God.

The good news: though love may feel completely unnatural (you can hardly “fall” into it), God’s Word tells us it leads to joy. Jesus issues a command to his followers to “love one another” so our “joy may be full” (John 15:11–12). Somehow, sacrificially prioritizing others leads to fullness of joy.

3. Joy refreshes our hearts.

Lydia Brownback: Warm weather and longer days—we’re eager to get outdoors and breathe in spring. There’s nothing like fresh air and sunshine to strengthen our winter-weary spirits. But the reality of our routine so often limits those refreshing hours. When confined to a house, an office, a car, or (for some of us) a bed, brisk walks in the sunshine are a luxury. How wonderful that in Christ, refreshment is ours indoors or out, at work or in the pickup line, and even on a sickbed.

Renewed strength of all kinds is the fruit of rejoicing. As we delight in God, we’re renewed in every way. Joy comes to those who fix their gaze on him in his Word, because that’s how we find what his people have always found: “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

4. Peace is possible. Right now.

Courtney Doctor: Peace is possible. For you. Right now. You might be thinking, You don’t know what I’m going through—and you’re right. There are seasons and situations when peace seems unattainable. But Jesus didn’t only purchase peace on the cross (Col. 1:20); he has made that peace readily and abundantly available (John. 14:27).

Paul wrote in Colossians, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (3:15). The word “rule” means “to act like an umpire.” An umpire is someone who makes the deciding call. When it feels as if fear and worry will win the day, God’s Word tells us they don’t have to triumph. Peace can rule. Our job is to know, believe, and trust in his Word. Jesus has made peace possible for us, right now. Let it be what rules your heart and mind.

5. Patience is active.

Megan Hill: I used to think patience was a passive virtue. To me, it meant sitting around, twiddling my thumbs indefinitely, and not getting upset about it. But the Bible paints an active picture of patience.

Patience isn’t just numbly scrolling through life without complaining; patience is the active pursuit of hope (Rom. 8:25). It’s seeking God and loving our neighbor, redeeming the time and taking every opportunity to practice righteousness, even when we don’t know when our current season will end. You may feel stuck in life’s waiting room, but Scripture tells us there’s plenty of good to do there.

6. Kindness is an invitation.

Winfree Brisley: One of the most familiar Bible verses about kindness is Micah 6:8. It tells us the Lord requires his people “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God.” But when we consider kindness in the context of the whole Bible, we see it isn’t just something God requires of us. It’s something he offers us in Christ.

In Jesus’s familiar invitation for the weary to come to him because his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30), the word translated “easy” is the same word translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “kind.” And Paul explains in Romans 2:4 that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. Kindness isn’t a burdensome requirement—it’s an invitation to draw near to God.

Showing kindness to others isn’t about random good deeds; it’s about easing a burden and pointing them to the One who can take away their ultimate burden of sin.

7. Goodness is meant for other people. (Lindsey Carlson)

As Christians, we display the fruit of goodness without finding our sense of righteousness in the fruit itself. Instead of pointing to any shred of good we’ve done and taking credit for our work, we aim to credit all displays of true goodness to the Giver of all good.

Instead of pointing to any shred of good we’ve done, we aim to credit all displays of true goodness to the Giver of all good.

Jesus shows us how. When the rich young ruler addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher,” Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:17–18). Jesus is quick to credit all goodness to his Father.

We can cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by becoming students of God’s goodness. Open the Scripture to the Psalms and observe all the tangible reasons we have for praising God. As the Spirit fills your heart with gratitude, ask him to strengthen your hands to go and tell of God’s goodness to others.

Goodness isn’t about us. Goodness is a fruit that’s meant to point others toward the good character of God.

8. Faithfulness begins (and ends) with God. (Blair Linne)

Have you ever thought about how God is faithful no matter whom or what he’s dealing with? He never compromises his holy benevolent nature nor wavers on truth. God is faithful to his image-bearing enemies when he displays his perfect patience and also declares that, in his time, he’ll judge them righteously. He’s just as faithful when, through Jesus, he mercifully turns enemies into children of God.

We’re called to imitate our Father. We do this by being firm in the faith we’ve received by grace. By the Spirit, we take small steps toward God so we may hear from his blessed lips, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). These words come only because we’re serving and living in light of his faithfulness. Faithfulness always begins and ends with God.

9. Gentleness transforms us. (Trillia Newbell)

One thing I discovered about gentleness is that the biblical definition is to be mild or humble. Perhaps if we thought about it long enough, we’d all come to that conclusion. But if the fruit of the Spirit is ultimately about being transformed into God’s image, the idea of mildness should lift our eyebrows and make us wonder.

Mildness isn’t weakness; it’s gentleness. It’s a person who forgives and has mercy. If we know Jesus, we’ve all experienced that gentleness. Oh, how I pray to be like him when I engage with and think about others.

10. Self-control frees us to say yes. (Sharonda Cooper)

The world says, “Follow your heart” and “Be true to yourself,” but Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). According to Jesus, obedience means laying aside our love of comfort to pursue obedience.

This is hard to do. But God provides help in the form of self-control, a strong ally in our struggle with sin. As the Spirit works within us, he frees us to be the kind of people who can say no to what feels good so we might say yes to what is good.


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