Monday, October 21, 2019

The Fruit of the Spirit (Newsletter Article)

The Fruit of the Spirit: Introduction

In Galatians 5 St. Paul sets up a contrast. On the one hand he gives the “works of the flesh” - a laundry list of wickedness. On the other hand he says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

In the coming months we will spend some time looking at each of those things that Paul named off, but before we jump into each of these individual topics, I want to actually look at that phase “fruit of the Spirit.”

The first thing to note is something that we so often over-look. Paul does not call them the “fruits” of the Spirit, as though there's a whole laundry list. It is the fruit of the Spirit. One, singular fruit that flows forth, that shows up as a bunch of different things. This isn't a set where you pick and choose – it's a whole package deal that is above any of the individual components or aspects that Paul gets into later.

And it's important to remember that this isn't a list that we choose from ourselves. This is about “fruit”. These 9 things aren't 9 holy works we strive after, nor are they necessarily things we decide to do – they are fruit. They are the end product of growth and maturation. The point of the fruit of the Spirit isn't that you sit and decide to do something, but rather the Holy Spirit works upon you by the power of the Word, and this fruit comes forth and blossoms in you. Because God is at work in you, this fruit will show forth. And whenever it does show forth, it's because of the Holy Spirit, not because of you yourself. God is the One who gives the growth.

So when we look at each of these ideas – love, joy, peace, etc – it's not going to be a pep talk about how you should be more _____, but rather we will look and see what God is doing to us with His Word, how He is shaping us and using us to accomplish His good will and plans through us and for us and in us. This is the fruit the Spirit brings forth in us, and it is a wonderful thing. Next time, we will consider the love that the Holy Spirit brings forth in us.

(written for the August 2019 Newsletter)

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