What Does Galatians 5:22 Mean?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Galatians 5:22(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

The lovely characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit stand in sharp contrast with the ugly features produced by works of the flesh. While man's carnal behaviour exposes an inner, self-centredness mixed with a casual disregard for others, the deeds carried out in spirit and in truth identify a man or woman whose life is abiding in Christ and yielded to God.

The fruit of the Spirit is an inner grace that is produced in a believer who is submitted to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that the life lived becomes a lovely reflection of Christ's singular nature and godly character. The heavenly fruit in Galatians 5 is only produced in a person who is continuously being cleansed from all sin, and walking in fellowship with the Father.

The fruit of man's sinful nature bears nothing but rotting sadness and sour pain, and the ethical character and political correctness of a believer who is straining to live-up to certain socially acceptable moral standards, in their own strength, will similarly produce nothing but the bad fruit of the old sinful, Adamic nature.

Spiritual fruit can never be produced through man's effort. The fruit of the Spirit are not 'works' that are done for God, however good and commendable they may be. They are behaviours that reflect the nature and character of the living Christ within a believer. They are attributes that are manifested in a child of God who radiates Christlikeness because they are maintaining communion with Him. The nine graces that together comprise the single, fruit of the Spirit, combine to display a perfect portrait of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Each of the nine individual qualities that are listed as the fruit of the Spirit, and their genesis in the fountain-head of God's sacrificial LOVE. The triplet of love, joy, and peace demonstrates an inner quality that permeates the entire disposition of the one that is producing this fruit of the Spirit, as they grow in grace and are being conformed into the image and likeness of Christ, through the power of the indwelling Spirit.

The trio of patiencekindness, and goodness are predominantly attributes, that are displayed in gracious conduct towards other people, while the trinity of faithfulnessgentleness, and self-control are hidden facets, deep within, that God alone can truly discern. 

The fruit-of-the-Spirit is not made up of nine, unrelated character traits, where one Christian shows one particular attribute while being severely lacking elsewhere. They are not nine separate fruits of the Spirit that may, or may not be manifested in a believer's life, but one indivisible FRUIT. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,"

While the fruit-of-the-Spirit is a discrete list of nine, specific godly qualities, which can be individually defined and described separately, they must be recognised as one integrated and interlinked whole - such that when one quality is absent, then all qualities are absent. And when one quality is displayed all must be present. The only way that the fruit-of-the-Spirit is manifested, is through a life that is consecrated to God and submitted wholly to the Spirit.

Although indivisible, LOVE has been listed as the firstfruit - not from importance but as the foundational requirement from which the other spiritual characteristics flow. It is not the human love we enjoy from parents, children, spouses, and friends, but the sacrificial love of God that can only be manifested from the Spirit Himself. It is a sacrificial love, whereby we give up ourselves for the sake of others and for the glory of God. 

Spiritual JOY is from the Lord, and gives strength and rejoicing, even in the midst of problematic and painful circumstances, while spiritual PEACE is inner tranquillity and godly composure, that is free from anxiety through faith in God's Word. When provoked it is PATIENCE that demonstrates a gentle calmness of spirit, while KINDNESS shows sincere consideration for others that reflects the compassion of the Lord.

The GOODNESS of a spirit-filled Christian is often demonstrated through gracious acts that put others before themselves while FAITHFULNESS is seen in the godly individual who exhibits unconditional reliability. The saint who shows GENTLENESS, is one who has sacrificial care for another, without being a cowering weakling, and the Christian with SELF-CONTROL is not easily provoked, because they die to their own desires and indulgences, for Christ's sake.

While some people are adept at perfecting certain of these spiritual characteristics in their own strength, the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, can only be genuinely manifested in a spirit-filled man or woman.

It is only as we grow in grace, become mature in the faith and keep a short rein of sin in our lives, that we will produce the spiritual fruit that exemplifies the spirit-filled believer.

Only as we live and walk and pray in spirit and in truth, will our lives produce this singular fruit of God's Holy Spirit, and we will be equipped to say with Paul, "It is not I who live - but Christ, Who lives in me."

My Prayer

Loving Father, I desire to reflect the nature and character of the Lord Jesus and to show forth the fruit of His Spirit in my life. Prune away all those areas in me that are inhibiting the growth of spiritual fruit being produced in me, and may I grow in grace and do only those things that are pleasing to You, for Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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