as the fruit that a tree bears shows what type of tree it is,
so our behaviour shows what type of person we are. In this chapter
we will look at the attributes we need to develop-the fruit
of the Spirit.
In this passage we are given a stark contrast: a list of things
done by those who live by the sinful nature and a list of
attributes which are the fruit of those who walk in the Spirit.
If we wish to serve Christ we must
learn to produce this fruit.
See Chapter 52. Led bythe Spirit.
1. Consider the acts of the sinful nature listed in verses
19-21. If there are words you do not understand, find
out what they mean. Are you surprised by any of the
things listed? Are you surprised by any that are omitted?
Compare this list with those in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and
Revelation 22:15. What are the common features?
Consider the fruit of the Spirit listed in
verses 22-23. If there are any words
you do not understand, find out what
they mean. Compare this list with
those in Colossians 3:12-15 and 2 Peter
1:5-7. What are the common features?
Why are these attributes described as
Do you find some of these attributes
in more abundance in your life than
How can we encourage the healthy
growth of this fruit in our own lives?
Jesus said that he is a vine and his followers are branches.
Without him they can do nothing, but with him they bear much fruit. John the Baptist urged his listeners to bear
fruit which demonstrated their repentance, just
as fruit shows the type and condition of the tree it grows
John 15:5, Matthew 3:8
Watch out for false prophets. . . By their fruit you will
recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-16)
In Galatians 5, two types
of people are described: those who live by the sinful nature
and those who live by the Spirit. If you follow God, the fruit
of the Spirit must grow and develop in you. Don’t expect
to see yourself magically become a better person with no effort,
but neither should you expect to succeed if you struggle on
your own to be “good”. It is through God’s
power that we become spiritual and grow fruit. He helps our
efforts and makes them effective. Colossians 1:10-11
The fruit of the Spirit represents attributes of God’s
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.
Against such things there is no law.
We need to develop these attributes in ourselves. Matthew 5:48
Because the list is very specific some believers try to concentrate
on one of these attributes each day, or one each week. After
all, it is often more effective to aim to improve in one particular
area of life at a time than to just try generally to “be
good”. The intention is to build each improvement on
top of the previous ones.
Jesus said love was the basis of the two greatest commandments:
to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Matthew 22:37-40
explained how to put it into practice:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not
boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love
does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always
protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
This gives us enough hard things to practise to last a lifetime!
Which Old Testament character do you think showed love for God most clearly and in what way?
Joy and happiness
When a sinner repents there is rejoicing in heaven. A repentant
sinner also has great joy, as if he had found hidden treasure.
Luke 15:7, Matthew 13:44 A believer should continue to have that joy, whatever the
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials
of many kinds. . . (James 1:2)
Paul and Silas showed irrepressible joy in Philippi when they
had been severely flogged and were in the stocks, yet they
were praying and singing hymns at about midnight. Acts 16:25 Jesus too,
suffered extreme pain but looked to future joy for his comfort
Can you think of another example of a New Testament believer who showed joy?
Most of the New Testament letters begin with the greeting “Grace and peace to you”. Paul says we can find
that peace by prayer:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer
and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to
God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians
Jesus is our peace; he made peace by reconciling us to God
through his death (Ephesians 2:14-18). But peace does not
end there: we must each live at peace with others as far as
it depends on us (Romans 12:18). We must be peace-makers,
not just peace-lovers, as we share the “gospel of peace” with others. Ephesians 6:15
Find a person who made peace between other believers in the New Testament.
Patience and perseverance
Job was amazingly patient through almost unbearable suffering.
James used Job to show us that patience and perseverance
are rewarded. James 5:7-11 Job learnt not to ask “Why me?”,
for none of us deserves a life free from suffering. God sees
our suffering and sometimes causes it with good reason: it
leads us to question, learn and grow if we persevere.
Our patience can also be challenged when dealing with others-they
may seem irritating, or stubborn, or rude. At these times
remember Paul’s command:
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage
the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14)
During your life you will have many opportunities to show patience. Do you think you are a very patient person or can you think of ways to improve?
Isn’t it lovely when someone is kind to you? This is
how we ought to treat each other at all times. Paul says
. . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Jesus told his disciples to do to others what they wanted
to have done to them. If we train ourselves to see life from
the viewpoint of others, it should be easier to be kind to
them. After all, we want them to be kind to us! When you wish
to be unkind to others, think of God’s kindness in sending Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:7). We love God because he first loved us, and that kindness needs to be passed on to others.
Joseph showed kindness to his brothers even
though they had sold him as a slave into Egypt. Can you think
of any examples where they were kind to him?
When Moses wanted to see God’s glory, God said he would
cause all his goodness to pass in front of him and proclaim
his name in Moses’ presence (Exodus 33:18-19). Goodness
is the very essence of God’s character, and he wants
to see it in us. To show goodness in our life we need to keep
our mind free of sel?shness and sinfulness and fill it with
• Don’t read books that glorify wrong.
• Choose carefully what you watch on television or at
• Don’t join in with ungodly discussions.
• Read the Bible often.
• Fill your mind with good things.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is
lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy-think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Think of two practical things you can do (or
maybe stop doing!) to show more of God’s goodness in your life.
When we choose to follow God’s ways and are baptised,
we must be faithful to the end. Many believers in the Bible
were known for their faithfulness. One example is Onesimus
whom Paul described as a “faithful and dear brother”.
Colossians 4:9 We read in Proverbs:
A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get
rich will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 28:20)
So if you want to be blessed (both now and in the age to come),
trust God and remain faithful to him. He will always faithfully care
for those who follow him.
Find some examples from the
life of Abraham where he showed faithfulness.
Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica:
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you,
but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her
little children. (1 Thessalonians 2:6-7)
Similarly he wrote to Timothy, saying that spiritual leaders
should be gentle (1 Timothy 3:3). We must follow the good
example of these leaders, and be gentle toward others. When
we want to harshly criticize others we should think again,
and behave in a gentle and kind manner.
And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he
must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those
who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God
will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of
the truth. (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
Can you find an example of gentleness in the
When Paul wrote to Titus, he clearly thought self-control
was important. First he states that elders must be self-controlled,
Titus 1:8 then he tells Titus to teach older men to be self-controlled.
Titus 2:2 Older women were to teach younger women to be self-controlled
Titus 2:5 and the young men were to be encouraged to be self-controlled.
Titus 2:6 Everybody needs to learn self-control, because it does not
come naturally. Self-control is required in different ways
for different people:
• you might enjoy food-and want to eat more than is
• you may like wine, but you want a lot.
• somebody annoys you and you want to abuse or hit the
• you are alone with your girlfriend or boyfriend, and
you are tempted to have sex together.
person has some areas-in thought or action-where they find
self-control difficult. To enter the kingdom of God we must
learn self-control to avoid sin.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom
of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor
idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual
offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers
nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians
Find an example from King David’s life
where he showed self-control and another where he did not.
|Proverbs 8:19; Matthew 7:15-20; 12:33; Luke 3:7-9; John 15:1-16; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 1:9-11; James 3:17-18.
|Exodus 34:6-7; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 136; Matthew 22:37-39; John 15:9-17; 1 Corinthians 13; 16:14; Ephesians 5:25-30; Colossians 3:12-14; 1 Peter 4:8.
|Psalm 43:4; 47:1; 66:1-4; Proverbs 15:20; Isaiah 12; Matthew 13:44; Luke 15:7; Acts 13:49-52; 16:34; Hebrews 12:2; James 1:2.
|Psalm 29:11; 34:14; 122:6-8; Proverbs 14:30; Isaiah 26:3-4; Zechariah 9:9-10; Matthew 5:9; John 14:27; Romans 5:1; 12:18; 1 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 2:14-17; Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
|Proverbs 14:29; Romans 12:12; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 1:10-12; 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Timothy 4:2; James 5:7-11.
|Proverbs 11:16-17; 12:25; 14:21; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Romans 2:4; 11:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 2:7; 4:32; Colossians 3:12-14; 2 Peter 1:7.
|Exodus 33:19; Psalm 34:8;14; Proverbs 3:27;28; Matthew 25:21-23; Luke 3:9; 18:19; John 10:11-15; Romans 2:7; 15:14; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; Titus 2:3,7,14; 3:1,8,14; James 3:13; 4:17; 2 Peter 1:5-8.
|Exodus 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 31:23; 145:13; Proverbs 28:20; Matthew 25:21-23; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:9; Hebrews 3:1-6; Revelation 2:10.
|1 Kings 19:12; Proverbs 15:1; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 11:29; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:23; Ephesians 4:1-2; Philippians 4:5; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; 1 Peter 3:1-4,15-16.
|Proverbs 25:28; 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; Galatians 5:23; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:1-8; 2 Peter 1:6.
The fruit of the Spirit is the character of God growing in
the lives of people who work with his help. To develop and
show this fruit we need to learn to be loving, joyful, peaceful,
patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.
This is a lifelong learning task because we are battling
against the ways of the flesh. At all times God is there working
in our life, helping our efforts.
1. How well do you feel you show the fruit of the Spirit in
your life? You may find it helpful to list the fruit in the
order that you feel you show these characteristics. If you
are feeling brave and have an honest friend, ask them to do
the same for you. Compare the lists and discuss together.
2. David was a man after God’s own heart. Look through
his life and you should be able to find examples of situations
where he showed each of the fruits of the Spirit.
3. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 provide guidance for selecting
leaders. Read these passages carefully to see which of the
fruit of the Spirit should be characteristics of spiritual
leaders. If any of the fruit is missing, consider why that
1. Make a list of Old Testament characters who displayed the
fruit of the Spirit clearly in their lives. Can you find anything
in the way in which they showed this fruit that will help
you to grow too?
2. Find verses in which God shows each of the fruits of the
Spirit. Can you find verses that show the same for Jesus?
• The dimensions of a disciple: planning for spiritual
by Stan Dawes (published by the author, 1993). This book covers
many practical topics taken from the requirements of spiritual
leaders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
• The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published
by The Christadelphian, 1984). This book contains chapters
on peace, joy, love, well-doing, trust, and other topics.
6. What is God like?
14. Holiness and obedience
29. Forgiving one another
34. The sermon on the mount
52. Led by the spirit
55. The law of love