"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22, NIV).
The fruit of the Spirit is fruit that comes from God; we cannot produce it on our own. However, by remaining in Jesus, we will begin to yield a harvest of actions and attitudes that demonstrates we are connected to the true Vine and directed by the Holy Spirit.
When I (Wayde) was a missionary living in Grinzing, Austria, I often watched the vineyard farmers from the hilltops where I went to pray. Each fall, as a result of their hard work the rest of the year, the grape farmers would bring in the harvest. After the harvest they would prune the vines to near ground level. The first time I watched them I thought they were going to destroy their vines. During the winter months all I could see on the hills were rows of stakes holding up wire. I couldnt imagine how the farmers could hope to produce a profitable crop the next season. Yet each farmer carefully tilled the soil and checked the wire lines and stakes to be sure they were firmly connected to each other. The farmers seemed sure that they were doing the right thing and would see a good harvest. The cold winter soon transitioned into spring; and as the trees of Vienna began to blossom, the vineyards began to produce vines that quickly grew up the stakes and across the wires, and soon tiny grapes appeared that would ripen for the fall harvest.
Until I had watched an entire growing cycle, I did not understand why the farmers did what they did. Each pruned the branches drastically and tilled the soil faithfully, even when there was no evidence that the branches would produce a good harvest. They knew from past experience that, if they did their job effectively and the weather cooperated, they would witness a tremendous harvest.
When Jesus explained to His disciples how they would be able to produce Gods fruit, He used the analogy of a vineyard (see John 15:1-17). He said they were like the branches of a vine the Heavenly Father, the Gardener, would prune so they could produce fruit. He also told them what the fruit would look like and why some branches had to be destroyed. Jesus Christ, the Vine, is perfect. He desires for us to produce fruit like that of our Creator, and He knows this is possible only if we are connected to Him.
You may feel that you cant follow the Lord wholeheartedly. The fruit of Gods Spirit is something you may be able to display on rare occasions; however, as a lifestyle it is impossible. Youre right. You cannot consistently display the fruit of the Spirit unless you have totally surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. Because of your self-discipline, you may be able to perform random acts of love and kindness or have some sense of peace or patience; however, such acts will be inconsistent because they do not come from the consistent flow of the Holy Spirits power within you. And when really put to the test, perhaps in a time of trial, you may not be able to muster these virtues in your own power. That is why you must be connected to the one who supplies all the ingredients for you to manifest His fruit.
Jesus says it is for the "Fathers glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:8). Billy Graham comments on the difference between "fruits" and "fruit": "It is interesting that the Bible talks of the fruit of the Spirit rather than the fruits. A tree may bear many apples, but all come from the same tree. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is the source of all fruit in our lives."1
As our lives are enriched by Christ, we demonstrate many Christlike attributes and bring glory to God. In Martin Luthers Commentary on Galatians, he said that those who follow the Lord "bring with them most excellent fruits and maximum usefulness, for they that have them give glory to God, and with the same do allure and provoke others to embrace the doctrine and faith of Christ."2
When people see us act in ways different from the ways the world would act, they want to know more about the God who enabled us to be this way. All the fruit is available whenever we need a particular type, whether it is patience with a boss or a child or kindness toward someone who is helpless to return the favor. God is glorified when we show others by the fruit we display that we are disciples of Jesus.
The fruit that Jesus disciples display is different from the fruit of those who only appear to be connected to the Vine. Although they may look legitimate, their actions prove they are not. John says that "those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us" (1 John 3:24). Again John instructs, "If anyone obeys his word, Gods love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him" (1 John 2:5). Our obedience to Christs commands proves that we remain in Him. If we disobey Him and His Word, we will not bear His fruit, for we will have chosen to disconnect and not remain. If we choose not to live a life in Christ that will bring glory to Him and to live a life of disobedience instead, we can anticipate Gods judgment. Jesus said that such a person is "like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:6).
What does Gods fruit look like?
People fruit consists of people we have introduced to Christ or influenced in a positive way for Him. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, "I planned many times to come to you ... in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles" (Romans 1:13).
When we walk with Christ, many will be drawn to Jesus because of the positive impact He is having on our lives, and they will want what we have.
The time, energy and money we give to the cause of Christ are fruit that help spread the gospel and minister to people in need. Paul informed the Roman believers that churches in Macedonia and Achaia made a "contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem .... For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings" (Romans 15:26,27). He added that he would ensure that they "received this fruit" (v.28).
When believers spread the gospel of Christ, it will bear fruit. Paul told the Colossian believers, "All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing" (Colossians 1:6).
The fruit of praise
Praising God and telling others that Christ is Lord is fruit that honors God. The author of Hebrews instructs, "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise the fruit of lips that confess his name" (Hebrews 13:15).
As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are connected to the Vine. Through His roots, the nourishment of the Spirit flows into you and enables you to act like Christ and exhibit "the fruit of the Spirit." You are different from what you were before you gave your life to Christ. Before, you could not have modeled the kind of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that is the Spirits fruit. But when you daily cling to and rely on the Vine, you will grow Gods fruit, for this is a supernatural ability that only believers in Christ can enjoy.
His fruit can be displayed in your life if you will yield to the Holy Spirit daily.
Thomas E. Trask is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
Wayde I. Goodall is executive editor of Enrichment journal and coordinator of the Ministerial Enrichment Office at the Assemblies of God Headquarters.
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