The term fruit has loads of applications. It is in its simplest form the ripened ovum of a plant, which bears the seeds to pass on its line to the next generation. It can be those same seed bearing parts which are used for food (apples, oranges, and such). It can also be used more generally, as a term for useful outcome of one’s labours.
God told Adam and Eve to go out and “be fruitful,” meaning to reproduce and also to be productive.
Paul picks up the metaphorical use when he presents the Fruits of the Spirit. In Galatians 5 he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (verses 22-23).
We have been transformed from “the old self, one characterised by selfishness, into new creations. The Holy Spirit indwells us, and in this we receive and bear fruit by the Spirit. Paul starts his list with “love, joy, and peace.” Love is the basis of relationship (with God, and our fellow people), but also of selflessness. The Spirit assures us of God’s love for us. And if we are showing (and feeling) acts of love to others (being loving), we are less likely to be “self-obsessed.” Joy can come from this. This sense of uplifting is often a byproduct of our human relationships, but even more so in our divine encounter. God Lifted Me is the name of a hymn, but it is also a truth for those in relationship with Him. The Spirit fosters such joy within us. With this uplifting, many of our doubts, fears, and pains can be lessened. This brings peace. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but of stillness, contentedness, and tranquility.
These positive inward benefits of the Spirit’s fruit transform us. This leads us to forebearance, and kindness. When we are transformed to joy and peace, and this clothed in love it is far easier to deal with others. It gives us patience (forebearance) and enables us to see past others’ faults or perceived faults. We can then positively act on this patience with shows of kindness. In the same way Jesus showed us infinite kindness giving Himself for us, we can be giving to others. This need not be physical or monetary (though it can be), but emotional and spiritual as well. We can “be there” for others, building them up. We can also teach, counsel, and mentor all as acts of kindness.
Goodness (Godness) is a positive quality as well. Eschewing evil, yes, but even more so making a positive example in our moral and ethical walk. It fits in with kindness, as we can “do good” for others. It is walking in the Spirit, living a life which mirrors Jesus.
This goodness is linked with faithfulness. The Spirit helps us remain on that godly walk. The transformational power helps us through our conscience and the awareness of God’s standards for our lives. We as loving, joyful, peaceful people patiently and kindly moving towards our goal above will as we progress onwards find it as second nature to continue (with the Spirit’s help).
As such loving and kindly people we can also become gentle. Not harsh is our actions or words. We can build up, and not tear down. This gentleness is one aspect of self-control. We don’t need external factors, or the treat of punishments to guide us. Our Spirit transformed selves will as noted above have a new or second nature. A godliness that is as more “us” than the old sinful self ever was.
These fruits, inward and outward manifesting are among God’s bountiful gifts to us. Let us open ourselves to the Spirit’s guidance today, and see the fruit that will result.