The Spirit-filled life is a fruitful life, a life that displays the change God has made in you through the new birth. The Bible says, “Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16, NIV). The Bible tells us that if we choose–and we all have a choice–to live as the Spirit of God is leading us to live, we will not be living the same old sinful way. Our lives will be characterized by what the Bible calls the “fruit” of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25, NIV). This “fruit” of the Spirit consists of nine manifestations that work together in our lives for a greater witness.
The fruit is growth in Christ-like character. Love is the supreme display of a Christian’s character, and the other eight are the characteristics of love. We can love others because God loved us first and gave His love to us in the presence of His Holy Spirit. John wrote, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11, NKJV). We are to spread that love, which expresses itself in practice as the “fruit” of the Spirit.
The fruit displays love as a self-less quality that puts another’s well being first. This love is tough, tender, and strong, as you will see. It shares Christ with anyone because helping a person move closer to God is the most loving thing you can do for someone else.
The fruit of joy is displayed through an inner satisfaction and delight in the knowledge that your relationship with God is secure. Nothing in the world can change that. In an uncertain world, you have the joy of assurance–not only of your past forgiveness but in the possibility of living in God’s power. The anticipation of all the riches in Christ that God has waiting for you can keep you hope-filled, even in life’s darkest days.
The fruit of peace is the ability to live in harmony with God, others, and self. Because of Christ’s death, you have peace with God. The cross and resurrection remove the separation caused by sin. Because you have been forgiven, you can live in forgiveness. The lost world needs hope for a new beginning. You can share that hope because you have experienced peace.
The fruit of patience is shown in the way you bear with people and the circumstances of your life. Patience is the ability to show the world you really do believe God is in control. The way you will be able to walk through circumstances and handle people will cause others to wonder. They will comment on your patience, and that will give you a platform for a verbal witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The fruit of kindness is exhibited through your involvement in meeting the needs of other people. Kindness is becoming a willing servant, in the name of Jesus, to another person. In a world where human kindness is in short supply, your unsolicited, selfless service to others will draw their hearts to you, and you will be able to direct them to Christ. The Bible says, “…God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Romans 2:4b, NIV).
The fruit of goodness is displayed in right conduct, keeping your honest integrity when you are tempted to compromise. Goodness is non-judgmental because it is not focused on the behavior of others. It reflects the good and honorable behavior of Christ. Jesus was good to others, no matter how they behaved toward Him.
The fruit of faithfulness illustrates dependability, loyalty, and reliability. Jesus was completely faithful in all He did. He was sent to redeem mankind through the cross. He fully accomplished the Father’s will. His sermon on the mount tells us to let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no.” Because of your faithfulness, others will take you at your word. When you tell about the change Christ has made in your life, they will not be able to dismiss it easily because the fruit of faithfulness is evident in your behavior.
The fruit of gentleness manifests itself when losing control would be easier. Gentleness is strength under control–the control of the Holy Spirit in your life. The fruit of gentleness will allow God to use your personality and natural tendencies for his kingdom instead of your ends. Gentleness is submitting your strengths to God’s purposes.
The fruit of self-control is the power to restrain yourself. Each of us has desires that, if not kept in check, would ruin us. You would be enslaved to your lower nature if not for the help the Spirit’s fullness brings to your life.
The fruit of the Spirit shows us what it looks like when a growing believer is ready to be a witness for his Lord. This is a moment-by-moment process. Don’t get discouraged if it seems like you will never make it. Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back. As you look back over time, you will see a pattern of growth.
Certain disciplines in the Christian life will help you keep growing. A great place to start is having a daily time of systematic Bible reading, prayer, and confession of sin. This will take a commitment to submit your priorities to God’s priorities. Entirely surrendering yourself to God is the path to experiencing this fruit in your life. It will make you an attractive witness.