The Fruit of the Spirit is comprised of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s like a rubber band ball tightly woven together, each band interconnected.
The only way to produce the Fruit of the Spirit is to have the Holy Spirit in you. This initial step happens when we believe (Ephesians 1:13-14). If a person does not have the Holy Spirit, she doesn’t belong to Christ (Romans 8:9), therefore making it impossible to grow the fruit of the Spirit in her life. So we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, when we make a conscious decision to follow Christ and let Him be the Lord of our lives.
As with any fruit, we won’t see it and enjoy it right away. We won’t see evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives the second we surrender our lives to Christ. A fruit starts from a seed and that seed contains everything for the plant to begin and produce more fruit. In order for a tree to yield fruit it goes through a cycle where it must be planted in good soil, it must be nurtured, it must have a light source; it must be watered until it reaches maturity. The fruit is initially a seed, then a seedling, then a sprout, until it’s a fruit (ripe for picking!)
Just like in nature, our spiritual growth takes time. Just like seeds, we must be planted in good soil, nurtured, watered. We must begin the lifelong work of submitting all of our life under God’s authority. We grow in knowledge of God through his Word, and grow our love of God through knowing him and obeying him. We come into spiritual community and grow under the learning of other believers. We renounce old sin tendencies and through the power of Christ’s strength, learn to walk in obedience. We die to our old selves and put on our new self in Christ Jesus.
Because the Holy Spirit is a gift to believers, He gives us the power to live fruitful lives. Christianity is not a rules-based religion. Our growth is not gained based on how much good we do, but it’s an outpouring of a relationship with a living God that forces and encourages us to live better; to aspire to be like Him; to be Holy as He is holy. Growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is evidence of these internal changes. When we nurture our relationship with God, we have access to the Son, and we water our lives with his Word.
We can show extraordinary love to those around us especially those we are in relationship with. We won’t only give money to the homeless man on the corner but we’ll practice loving our difficult family members and truly forgiving them when we are wronged. We’ll become gentle in our disposition; we will find joy in the mundane; situations will try our patience but we’ll change our perspective and begin to recognize the blessing in longsuffering. Our suffering may soften us so that we can now encourage another in the same boat. Encouragement and a willingness to share ourselves may be one of the most understated kindnesses but it’s a kindness that’s sorely needed. As we grow, we’re gentle with others and we’re not so hard on ourselves. We cut ourselves and each other some slack. We learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt even though we may get hurt. And we continue to do it because we see how it helps others and more importantly we recognize a maturity in ourselves. As we mature, others begin to notice a difference in us also: how our short fuse has gotten longer; how we’re no longer so self-focused; how we seemed to have undergone an attitude adjustment; how we’re willing to endure if it helps another.
As we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow his fruit to be evident in our life, bearing good fruit becomes easier but it is never easy. We’re always battling with what the Bible calls the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies (Galatians 5:19-21). We’re all too familiar with these because this is who we were before we made a decision to follow Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). After salvation, we are no longer dead in our sin, but we will still struggle with sin and struggle to bear fruit this side of eternity.
Growing the fruit of the Spirit is like growing a muscle. The muscle is already a part of us but we have to choose to use it if we want to see any growth. We have to exercise faith and believe that we have everything we need for growth. Our growth will make us more compassionate, more empathetic, kinder, more joyful, more peaceful, and gentler, with the common strand of love. As we choose to mature, we will see evidence of this growth and the impact it makes on others. Growing the fruit of the Spirt relies on the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us, with the Holy Spirit's power making changes in our lives day by day.
Nylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.