By Russ Ramsey
God gives us the fruit of the Spirit because He loves us. In many ways, it’s that simple. The fruit is a promised result of walking in step with the Spirit. But what is this fruit? How does it grow? Allow me to offer five observations about the fruit of the Spirit as we begin this reading plan.
First, what’s the metaphor? These qualities listed as the collective fruit of the Spirit have a tangibility to them. I like to think of the fruit of the Spirit like a cluster of grapes. They grow as one fruit, drawing nutrients from the same source, and yet they are distinct.
Second, when do they grow? Like all fruit, the fruit of the Spirit grows slowly and seasonally. Anyone who promises Christian maturity overnight is selling something you don’t need. The psalmist says that the one who follows the Lord “is like a tree planted beside flowing streams” of water “that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3). Real change is usually gradual. We don’t always see this growth, but we can see the evidence of it.
Third, spiritual growth is inevitable for those who are in Christ. If you have the Spirit, you will grow. Of course, we can, and often do, hinder the Spirit’s work in us. But the promise is that because God is calling us to walk in step with His Spirit (Galatians 5:25), and because the Holy Spirit dwells in those who trust in Christ, His Spirit is actively growing His people according to His perfect will.
Fourth, spiritual growth is comprehensive. It touches every aspect of your life, and the fruit of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23)—spans the whole of the human experience.
Fifth, all aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are interdependent on one another. They are linked together and thus grow together. You are not going to grow in your patience without also growing in your self-control. You are not going to deepen in your sense of peace without also deepening in your faithfulness and gentleness toward others. These are all rooted in the first aspect of this fruit: love. And they are all grown in grace. So we can know that the Spirit’s desire is not merely to grow one aspect, but to grow in us as one, collective fruit.
The fruit of the Spirit is not a set of qualities to achieve on our own and then present to the Lord for His approval. It is the Spirit’s work in us—the evidence of His sanctifying grace at work in our lives. We tend the vine, but the Lord makes the fruit grow.
Written by Russ Ramsey