But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.Galatians 5:22-23
Welcome back to the blog, everyone! Today, I wanted to take a minute to wrap up the Fruit of the Spirit series with some key takeaways.
For the past nine weeks, we have been focusing on Galatians 5:22-23 and the nine fruits that are listed there (see the above links). Now, I want us to take a look at some of the surrounding verses and consider what they mean for us as Spirit-led believers.
Our Flesh and Spirit Do Not Agree
Let’s start with verses 16 through 18 of that chapter:
“I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Our flesh, when it comes down to it, wants one thing: pleasure. We give in to our flesh and its desires because we want something enjoyable or comfortable. We don’t feel like doing the hard things, like loving our enemies, showing kindness toward those who hurt us, rejoicing on the bad days, or answering with a gentle voice instead of screaming and storming out of the room. We often opt to take the easy way out, by cutting off and ignoring those who are unkind to us, wallowing in our self-pity and going around with an air of “woe is me,” or even choosing to have “just one more,” because “ just one more” can’t hurt, right? But we as Christians are called to a higher standard: one that is outward focused instead of inward focused. One that will lead us toward unity as the people of God.
Self-improvement is Not the Goal
If we follow the guidance of the Spirit in our lives, He will lead us toward community with one another. Yes, as we went through the fruits of the Spirit I pointed out ways for self-improvement in each area, but self-improvement shouldn’t be the final destination. It shouldn’t be solely for our own benefit. The final destination–for a Christian–is to hear “well done, good and faithful servant,” not because we were the best that we could be, but because we lived our lives in a way that built up the Kingdom well. Nowhere in the Bible are we called to “go therefore and be the best person that you could possibly be.” We are, however, called to be a light in this world, and to point others to Christ. We have been commissioned to take the gospel message to the ends of the earth that others may be saved. It’s not about us: it’s about loving God and loving others. It’s about serving God and serving others. It’s about bringing glory to God in the way that we live.
That’s why it’s so important that we walk by the Spirit and not by our flesh. Our flesh will tell us that it’s all about us and what we want–what we can get out of life and who we can become. It’s climbing the ladder of self. But the one who walks by the Spirit will live selflessly, love as Jesus loved, and be a true world changer for the Kingdom. The Spirit-led believer will desire fellowship, unity, and cooperation in the Church. The Fruits of the Spirit are meant to unite us, not divide us in a competition of who can love more people or who has the most self-control. They remind us that we are all sinners in need of grace. They remind us that we all fall short of the glory of God and need His help in our lives.
The goal of every Christian–no matter where we are in the world, how old we are, or what season of life we find ourselves in–should be to live our lives for the glory of God.
Behold, the New Has Come
Let’s look at verses 24-26:
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
For those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have been passed from death unto life. Our old selves are dead and gone, and behold, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). It wasn’t by anything we did on our own merit, but by the gift of God–the blood of Jesus–the regeneration of the Spirit–that we have been saved. “Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.” We started the Christian life in the Spirit, so why would we want to end it in the flesh?
“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).
We must keep in step with the Spirit and abide in Christ. We will never be able to produce all of these fruits on our own, but with God, nothing shall be impossible.
If we seek God first, He will lead us into relationships and opportunities to love others. He will give us His peace that passes all understanding. He will fill our hearts with joy so that we can sing in the fire and dance through the rain. All nine Fruits of the Spirit will be manifest in our lives if we follow the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to produce them on your own–by your own strength–but let God grow them in you, because unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor over it in vain. However, our work in the Lord is never in vain.
Since we will undoubtedly reap what we sow, we must sow the seeds of the Spirit (Bible reading, prayer, and an ongoing relationship with God) in order to grow the Fruits of the Spirit.
Abide in Christ.
Walk by the Spirit.
Live a fruitful life.
I hope you have enjoyed this series, and that you have learned more about our perfect God and the Christian life as a result. Stay tuned for more as we continue our pursuit of Christ. I will see y’all next week!