The Lord created a popular commodity when He invented fruit. Fruit-flavored products appear in one form or another on every aisle of the supermarket and fall into three broad categories—sweet, sour, and zesty. I’d like to use those categories to talk about another kind of fruit—the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
The word sweet comes to mind first.
Peace, for example, is such a sweet word that previous generations sang about it. Peter Bilhorn’s much-loved Gospel song said: “Peace, peace, sweet peace.” We don’t have peace of mind unless we have a piece of God’s mind. We need the promises of His Word onto which our faith can grip like an anchor to the rock (Hebrews 6:19).
Gentleness is the quality of being amiable and pleasant. Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.” Would your friends describe you as being gentle?
Goodness conveys the idea of generosity, of being kind to someone else. Paul used the word “fruit” in Galatians 5:22 to describe the attitudes of the Spirit-filled believer. We do sinful things naturally. But when it comes to the qualities of Jesus Christ, they can only be produced in us by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Sour is the biting taste of acid, tart enough to make you shiver. It’s often an acquired taste, but important. Lemons, for example, make your lips pucker, but they’re full of vitamin C, and lemon zest can perk up a dish or drink. The next three fruits are described as sour, while not as instantly pleasant as the sweet, they are full of spiritual vitamins and vital to our health.
Longsuffering is another word for “patient.” It denotes the idea of underreacting to the provocations of others. We need to be patient during aggravating circumstances and with aggravating people.
Meekness is best defined as “power under control.” The Greek word refers to powerful horses that have been broken and trained to be great steeds. It’s a grace that fuses together strength and gentleness.
Self-Control is the Spirit-strengthened willpower to go against our own appetites and emotions. The Bible says, “The grace of God… teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12, NIV1984). In the end, self-discipline makes the difference between success and failure, whatever the endeavor.
Zesty fruits make everything taste better, awakening our spiritual taste buds. We enjoy them so much we want others to experience them too—especially the zest of love, joy, and faith.
Love is the attitude of caring more for the needs of another than for our own. We love someone when our greatest concern is what we can do for them. This reflects the attitude of Jesus who didn’t come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Who have you served today?
Joy is the attitude of divine happiness that undergirds all our emotional reactions in life. The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Only the Holy Spirit sparks this kind of joy. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
Faith is listed among the fruit of the Spirit. The Greek term could mean either faith or faithfulness. When we have faith in God, we’re full of faith, which makes us faithful. We trust God so much that we align our lives by His Word and live in consistent obedience.
These nine fruits can flavor our lives with the authentic freshness of the Spirit. But beware of artificial flavors. Many processed foods we eat and drink are tinged with chemicals that mimic a particular flavor. In a similar way, many people mimic the true fruit of the Holy Spirit and present a façade of personality traits that are attractive from a distance but artificial up close.
The fruit of the Spirit is the character qualities of Jesus Christ replicated in our lives as we walk in abiding fellowship with the Spirit. Like real fruit, these qualities grow and mature as we’re rooted and grounded in faith. Hereby is our Father glorified, that we bear much fruit (John 15:8).
And it’s all by grace, which we can define as….the unmerited flavor of God.
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
Hope! We feel it as cold, blustery days turn to warm, sunny ones each spring. While we revel in the hope we find as the seasons change, we are reminded of an even greater hope—the spiritual hope we have because of Easter! Prepare your heart for Easter this year and for years to come with David Jeremiah’s new book, Season of Hope. This book is designed to encourage you as you anticipate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and the indescribable hope that it brings to our lives. This new resource is filled with devotionals, articles, and other content to fill you with hope each Easter season.