The fruit of the spirit Refs
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Just 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.

Galatians 5:13-26

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?
2. 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?
3. Why are these attributes described as “fruit”?
4. Do you find some of these attributes in more abundance in your life than others?
5. How can we encourage the healthy growth of this fruit in our own lives?

Fruit
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 on.
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 character.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self­control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

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.

Love
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
Paul 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 cir­cumstances.

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 (Hebrews 12:2).

Can you think of another example of a New Testament believer who showed joy?

Peace
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 4:6-7)

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?

Kindness
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?

Goodness
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 good things.

• Don’t read books that glorify wrong.
• Choose carefully what you watch on television or at the movies.
• Don’t join in with ungodly discussions.
• Read the Bible often.
• Fill your mind with good things.

As Paul states,

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.

Faithfulness
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.

Gentleness
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 Old Testament?

Self-control
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 good.
• you may like wine, but you want a lot.
• somebody annoys you and you want to abuse or hit the person.
• you are alone with your girlfriend or boyfriend, and you are tempted to have sex together.

Each 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 6:9-10)

Find an example from King David’s life where he showed self-control and another where he did not.

Fruit
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.
Love
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.
Joy
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.
Peace
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.
Patience
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.
Kindness
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.
Goodness
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.
Faithfulness
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.
Gentleness
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.
Self-control
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 might be.


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 growth
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?
11. Faith
14. Holiness and obedience
29. Forgiving one another
34. The sermon on the mount
49. Suffering
52. Led by the spirit
55. The law of love

 
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