In Galatians chapter 5, Paul lays out for us those things that are the works of the flesh or of the old life, and then he lays out for us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Gal. 5:19-25 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 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.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
So we can clearly see that the fruit of the life of “self” is not God’s plan or desire for us. What we need in our lives and flowing out of our lives is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.
Love- When we respond to God’s free gift of eternal life and accept the free gift of His Holy Spirit, the fruit of love pours out of us toward God and the people around us. We certainly can have the human emotion of love before accepting Jesus as our savior, but this is different. The love comes from outside of us to live in and through us. This love far surpasses our old understanding of love. This kind of love happens when love is not warranted, when love doesn’t make sense. Jesus loved me and you when He knew exactly what we would be like and what we’d be guilty of.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Joy- Joy from God’s Holy Spirit is that deep sense of gladness, peace and even delight that we have after receiving the free gift of salvation from Jesus. This new-found joy comes from knowing that God is faithful and in control even when things don’t seem to be going well. It’s why we sing that we “have joy down in my heart”!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
We can even find joy in our suffering:
And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Peace- When we have peace from the Holy Spirit, this is that sense of being calm even when the storm is raging all around us. We know that God is on the throne and the King has things under His control. It doesn’t mean life should always be worry-free, but it does mean that we can continually go back to that place of resting in Him. I have found that in my life, this doesn’t mean I have peace all the time, but that when I see life begin to spin out of control I can go to a place of prayer and surrender everything to Him. It was never in my control anyway, right?
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (This was Isaiah talking to God. So read it this way: He will keep me in perfect peace when my mind is fixed on God, because I trust in Him.)
Longsuffering- Also known as patience. He has a patient endurance for me as a sinner. This is fruit of having the Holy Spirit – God is patient toward me. He also teaches me patience and gives me patience toward others (they are sinners too!) as well as patience in my circumstances. Many times He does that by asking us to submit to Him through the tough things in life. In troubling and painful situations, He asks us to trust Him, seek His glory and His will, and to submit and carry the cross. That means avoiding anger, or the inclination to fight back, or the urge to have a pity party or a fit.
Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Kindness- This one can be so hard for us can’t it? It’s so easy to treat your best friend with kindness when things are going well and you’re having a great time. It’s so HARD to be kind, pleasant, giving and forgiving when things are NOT going well. Do you remember a time when someone else teased you pretty good, and it really upset you? What was your reaction? Our human nature (our old life flesh) tends to be unkind in return and we respond in anger, frustration, seeking justice, or even revenge. That’s not the mind of Christ and not a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life. The fruit of the Spirit is one of kindness. This fruit also happens when we see someone in need, or a simple opportunity to be kind and charitable.
Psalm 117 Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!
For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Goodness- Goodness is doing what is right, and making right choices. It is showing by our actions a character that glorifies God. We are called to be light to this world, to reflect Jesus to others. Christians who live with the Holy Spirit controlling their lives will reflect the goodness of God, and His good character.
Here, Lydia shows goodness:
Acts 16:14, 15, 40 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
Faithfulness- This is someone who is loyal, committed, dependable, a person you can count on to do as they say they will. This is a character trait of God who always does what He says He will. His Holy Spirit working in our lives produces faithfulness. God alone is completely faithful, and He wants us to reflect that to others. In our work, in school, among our friends, and certainly among our family. Life will always be difficult. This fruit in us shows us to be faithful even when life is really brutal.
The Apostle Paul was faithful even though many rough times in ministry. He knew this fruit rather well:
2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Gentleness- The fruit of gentleness starts when someone has true humility. We are so valuable in God’s eyes, and yet apart from Jesus we are so unworthy of His love. The closer we draw near to Christ, the more we realize how truly unworthy we are when He died for our sins. How can we then think ourselves higher than another person who is just as unworthy as we are. Jesus reached through the mess of sinners’ lives in the New Testament to touch them with His grace just like He does for us today.
Paul describes that gentleness:
Ephesians 4:1-2 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.
Self-control- We each have choices to make all day long, every day of our lives. We need to choose to allow the Holy Spirit to stay in control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions rather than to choose for ourselves what we want to do. When we do this, we are exercising self-control under God’s Holy Spirit. Self-control in how we spend our time and money, in what we eat, in how we react to situations and even the sins of others.
Paul offers us a self-control lesson right here in the same chapter of Galatians and also one in Romans.
Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.