Word For The Week
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"
This familar list of spiritual virtues raises some interesting questions:
Why does Paul call these things 'fruit of the Spirit'? His point is surely that they are the outworking of the Spirit's activity in the hearts and minds of followers of Jesus. Just as apple trees produce apples and cherry trees produce cherries, so those filled with the Spirit produce the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. These qualities are not like Christmas decorations hung on a fir tree where they do not natually occur; they are the outward expression of the inner working of the Spirit of God.
Why does Paul refer to 'fruit' (singular) and then list nine different qualities? Because these are nine different dimensions or facets of the singular work of the Spirit. The nine characteristics come as a single package, indivisible and interdependent.
Is this an exhaustive list? Presumably not, as the New Testament tells us of other qualities that the Spirit will produce in us (such as power - 2 Timothy 1v7).
What then does this list ultimately represent? It's a summary of the character of Jesus Christ, which he forms within his followers as we seek to walk in step with his Spirit.