Words by Morris Murray | Image by Al Blanton
In Galatians 5:22-23, nine words tell what it means to be a Christian. They are called “the fruit of the Spirit” – what the Holy Spirit wants to produce in our lives. They may be seen as three groups of three qualities: Love-Joy-Peace, Longsuffering-Gentleness-Goodness, Faith-Meekness-Temperance.
Love is the most important. It heads the list of what it means to be Christlike. Its primary meaning is caring for others and being selfless – not selfish. This kind of love wants to do what is best for others.
Joy is the fruit grown from knowing that God loves us and has made us His children. We have joy because He has forgiven our sins. We have joy because we now have a relationship with God and other Christians as spiritual brothers and sisters. We have joy because we serve God.
Peace refers to spiritual well-being. It means that we are no longer disturbed or troubled about God. We now have a pleasant and friendly relationship with God. Since God is a God of peace, He gives His peace to His children so that we have peace with other Christians.
Longsuffering means that we have patience. We must suffer in this world and sometimes lose our tempers. But God wants us to be long-tempered rather than short-tempered. The Holy Spirit helps us to be this way.
Gentleness means we are to be kind to others, even when things get challenging. The Holy Spirit helps us to do this.
Goodness means we are to do all we can to help others – even if they do not deserve it. After all, God is good to us – even when we don’t deserve it. So, we are to be like God in this regard. This is Christianity in action: generosity!
Faith means we are to be faithful, trustworthy, or loyal to God and His will. That is, we are to persist in doing what is right – even when it is difficult. Since God is faithful to us, we are to be faithful to Him.
Meekness/Kindness means that we are to be considerate or thoughtful about the feelings of others. It means that we are to be tender toward others. This is not a sign of weakness. It means that we are strong because we live under God’s control.
Temperance/Self-control means we are to make sure it is the Holy Spirit Who is in charge of what we say and do. We are not to be swept away by every desire we might have. We are to bring our lives under the control of the Holy Spirit. After all, it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring under control all our desires, thoughts, words, and actions in order to please God. WL