What does the “fruit of the spirit” mean?
The fruits of the spirit are 9 specific behaviors that are a result from the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. The Greek word καρπός that we translate to “fruit” usually means fruit in the sense of edible fruits and vegetables- however can also be translated as offspring, deed, action, result, or profit. In an agrarian society, fruit is a good thing; it is the result of hard work and careful tending.
In the world we live today, we may use it in a phrase like the “fruit of our labor” in this case the “fruit” you receive from your hard work may not be apples, oranges, or corn. In fact- it’s more likely to look like a paycheck-a reached goal-a finished project- a triumph over hurt(s) or obstacle(s) in your life- perhaps for some, it’s starting a new family. The Lord blesses each person differently according to their needs and most importantly His will.
Understanding the different meanings of the word “fruit” will help you apply the scripture more appropriately and easily to your life. Helping you to understand the root meaning and recognize the fruits you are producing in your own life.
Life is all about choices– our choices produce the fruit in our life!
Read Galatians 5:16-26 – NKJV (emphasis added below)
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
The Bible clearly shows us in Galatians 5 that the result of the Holy Spirit working in a believers life results in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
It also shows us that in contrast to walking in the Holy Spirit— is to be walking in the flesh. In other words– doing things our way without seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. It also goes on to tell us what the results will look like in our life if we are choosing to walk in the flesh. It specifically states the following:
- outbursts of wrath
- selfish ambitions
- not to become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another
After having studied the above scripture in Galatians 5– I think it is fair to say, we have two choices in life– we can walk in the Holy Spirit or we can walk in the flesh.
Matthew 7:15-20 says You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Let’s take a minute to be truly honest with ourselves and God. Let’s say a prayer to ask God to expose to us our own hearts and open our minds and self to clarity in Him.
I am thankful for Your Holy Spirit and the redemption I have in You. Lord help me to see my heart through your eyes. Expose to me the things I may not even know is happening within my mind and my heart. God I pray you give me clarity through Your word and help me to transform my heart, my mind, my entire self- to be more like You. God, I know I am far from perfect and I make mistakes daily, forgive me Lord, guide my path, restore my faith, and show me what You want me to learn in my time spent with You. Lord if I am believing something that is not true, help me to see the truth in You. Thank you God for Your promises, that never fail and Your blessings that I know you are already working on for me. In Jesus mighty name I pray.
God is good! Let’s take a closer look at the 9 fruits of the spirit.
There is more than one type of love.
- Storge – empathy bond
- Storge (storgē, Greek: στοργή) is liking someone through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people who relate in familiar ways that have otherwise found themselves bonded by chance. An example is the natural love and affection of a parent for their child.
- Philios – friend bond
- Philios (philíos, Greek: φιλία) is the love between friends as close as siblings in strength and duration. The friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common values, interests or activities.
- Eros – romantic love
- Eros (erōs, Greek: ἔρως) was love in the sense of “being in love” or “loving” someone.
- Agape – unconditional “God” love
- Charity (agápē, Greek: ἀγάπη) is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances.
To read more from the source on the types of love click here.
NOTE: THE WEBSITE LINKED IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH FAITHANCHORED.COM
- Charity (agápē, Greek: ἀγάπη) is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances.
In Galatians 5 the type of love it is referring to is Agape love-God’s unconditional love. A love not earned but freely given to those who have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Agape love isn’t about what we do or do not do– it’s what has already been done for us, through Jesus Christ. This love is never changing, never failing, and covers all sin.
Jesus said in John 15:9-11
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
I am sure there are others–like myself– who struggle with this- because let’s be honest– loving everyone– including those who hurt, offend, or disagree with u– is downright hard!
But with God’s help– you can love someone with an unconditional, agape, love regardless of what they may have or have not done. This is because we only have agape love through the Giver (Jesus)– so because we possess His perfect love–from walking in the Holy Spirit– we can give that love to others.
You can’t give what you do not possess. We receive His love as a result of walking in the Holy Spirit, and allowing Him to guide us. Reacting in His spirit not our flesh with each step we take.
Joy in the biblical reference is gladness in realization of God’s favor and mercy. Joy is happiness NOT dependent on your circumstances but solely on the reverential understanding of God–His power–His Will–the truth of who you are and your purpose in Him. When you have joy as a result of walking in the Holy Spirit nothing can bring you down-because you know through God that you are covered.
Nehemiah 8:10 tells us Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials..
Peace- in the biblical concept– means you are far from fear and worry when it comes to finances, trials, food, clothing, and daily essentials.
God’s word tells us in Romans 8:6 For to be carnally (fleshly) minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Meaning if we walk in the Holy Spirit the result is the fruit of peace. The peace that surpasses all understanding. This type of peace comes from allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our mind and heart. The fruit of peace can be seen when peace comes even when life’s circumstances are far from tranquil.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Longsuffering is not something we hear often in conversation- a more common word meaning the same would be- patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, or even slow to anger.
When we walk in the Spirit the result is we bear fruit of patience, endurance, and become long-tempered. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to wait longer- to trust in God’s timing.
Look how Paul explained the patience of Jesus in 1 Timothy 1:16
However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
I know I am not alone when I say I have certainly benefited from Jesus being one of great patience–especially since I haven’t always been one to “learn my lesson” the first time ..or ten! haha.
Seriously though, I am so thankful for Jesus’ patience with me. It’s never too late to make a change!
Another form of evidence that the Holy Spirit is in our life is we become patient- humble-gentle with one another. Just as Ephesians 4:1-2 shows us.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love
Kindness in the biblical aspect conveys the meaning of moral goodness, integrity, and/or usefulness. In the King James Version this word is translated “gentleness,” which links it to the meaning of a gentleman or a gentlewoman, someone who behaves properly (according to God’s word), with moral integrity and kindness.
Romans 2 reminds us that it is because of God’s goodness that we are brought to repentance and not judgement. This helps us to remember to not be judgmental and remain humble. Evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a Christian’s life is moral integrity with kindness–not getting stuck in the trap of self-righteous judgment.
Goodness in the biblical aspect means uprightness of your heart and life. In other words-your heart is in the right place. It relates to not only being good but doing good things-expecting nothing- including recognition because you have done something “good”. Goodness from walking with the Holy Spirit acts in response of faith in His power– because God is good, it is by His power we are prompted to do good things for others that He calls us to do.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 New Living Translation
So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.
Faithfulness is a character trait based on the combination of dependability and trust in the confidence of God and His eternal promises. Faithfulness is a result of walking in the Holy Spirit– evidence that the Holy Spirit dwells within us and our faith is in Him and Him alone.
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Faith is evidence of things unseen– It is by faith that we understand
Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Gentleness (could also be translated as meekness) is a personal trait that is a result of a Christian who is walking in the spirit. It is a fruit that comes as evidence of the Holy Spirit working within oneself. It is because of God’s gentleness that we are able to show it through our actions to others.
Jesus describes himself as gentle–meek in Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Wikipedia explains gentleness like this “Gentleness is a personal quality which can be part of one’s character. It consists in kindness, consideration and amiability. Being gentle has a long history in many, but not all cultures. Aristotle used it in a technical sense as the virtue that strikes the mean with regard to anger: being too quick to anger is a vice, but so is being detached in a situation where anger is appropriate; justified and properly focused anger is named mildness or gentleness.”
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
What a great reminder for us to be slow to anger and gentle in our words.
Self -control comes as a result of walking in the spirit and is the ability to control ones body and desires–physically and mentally. It is the opposite of walking in the flesh and indulging in one’s selfish desires.
Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law
2 Peter 1:5-9 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.