What is the fruit of the Spirit? Samuel Hooke, in his book The Siege Perilous, says, “A vine does not produce grapes by Act of Parliament; they are the fruit of the vine’s own life; so the conduct which conforms to the standard of the kingdom is not produced by any command, not even God’s, but it is the fruit of the divine nature which God gives as a result of what He has done in and by Christ.” The list in Galatians 5:22-23 is therefore not a checklist for us to tick against, or it will function as another set of laws, fueling our pride or despair. They are outcomes of a life directed by the Holy Spirit.
The first cluster—love, joy and peace—reflects primarily the state of our relationship with God. The chief object of our love is God. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our greatest joy is found in Him. He becomes our strength. Instead of enmity, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The second cluster—patience, kindness and goodness—is the outflow of the love, joy and peace we have experienced in God into all other relationships. It is being forbearing towards those who aggravate us, thoughtful in deeds and showing generosity towards others. It is choosing to bless knowing it is more blessed to give than to receive. It is doing acts of righteousness and justice.
The third cluster—faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—is the working of the Holy Spirit on the mastery of our inner character. It is being reliable, humble, and not driven by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the boastful pride of life. It expresses the holiness of our heart.
The fruit of the Spirit is a reflection of Christ’s character. Hence, against it, there is no law. It fulfils the law. By walking in the Spirit, we live out the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves. This fruit of the Spirit grows in our lives as we entrust our lives to God on account of Christ. It means setting our hearts as Paul did in Galatians 2:20, that it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life I now live, I live by faith in Christ who loves me and died for me. Would you spend a moment to thank God for this is the image of Christ He is shaping you into?