We can’t jump into a the Fruit of the Spirit without an authentic discussion about the Holy Spirit himself. We see throughout the New Testament of the Bible our need to stay connected to the Vine and abide in the Spirit in order to bear the fruit. The analogy is beautiful and such a tangible description of our need for our Savior. Yet we often stick to the effort of connecting and abiding and miss out on the freedom that results. I pray in this season you grasp the freedom that results from a life connected to and abiding in the Spirit. Because it’s not found in our own efforts, strategies, plans, guidelines, resolutions, programs, etc. True freedom is found in He alone.
I’ve spent so many years trying to do it on my own, and my heart hurts seeing those around me falling into the same trap. True freedom . . . and love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . . are not the result of our our hard-work, determination, and goal-setting. They are the result of a daily choice to surrender and be led by the Spirit. This is all an ironic pattern that goes against our culture and norms but aligns with the grace and freedom that come from a relationship with Christ.
I share about my personal journey from shining to burning HERE, but my heart in this study is to provide and encourage a journey of freedom. Not one of fitness or programs or steps or fat challenges. But a journey that is Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, and spiritual. The physical, mental, and emotional results and ‘fruit’ will follow and thrive.
The power of the Holy Spirit is a free gift as believers of Jesus Christ. As stated in Acts 2, its main purpose is to truly help us. The Spirit teaches us (Luke 12:12), leads us (Luke 4:1), helps us pray (Jude 1:20), and speaks truth (Romans 9:1). Our bodies are thus holy and beautiful temples housing the Spirit (I Cor 6:19-20).
We must also be wise in this freedom, stay connected to the Vine, and make choices that will bear good fruit. For what may be good to some may not be beneficial to you.
So as we break down each Fruit of the Spirit, taste and see that the Lord is good in His promise of a life of freedom. The specific fruit and even their listed order have purpose and bear an overflowing of truth as we pursue a Spirit-led life of freedom. Rather than a list of to-dos, we surrender to a list of loves, beginning with the love of a Father, Son, and Spirit. The Spirit is ready and willing to pour out an abundance of fruit into the lives of those willing and ready to surrender and be strengthened by our Savior, Jesus Christ. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!
I want to mention that while this content is a compilation of scripture, devotionals, sermons, books, and just Spirit-led conversations, my foundation for the fruit of the Spirit came from Beth Moore’s Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself. So you’ll see several quotes from her throughout, and I highly recommend her study if you’d like a deeper tool!
As we explore the specific Fruit of the Spirit, I must emphasize their order in scripture. As we all things in His Word, even the order in which the fruit are listed has purpose. Starting with love communicates the foundational truth that God is love. Jesus’s ministry, life, death, resurrection, etc. all center around His love. The Good News (or Gospel) is all about love. Love is the answer. Love is a choice. Love is a response.
While this sounds simple and redundant for those of us who’ve been going to church for years, let’s not miss the power of this love! Especially since ‘love’ is such an overused word! We love our new shoes, our friend, our children, our husband, and our God. So for clarity, let’s talk about the different types of love.
We have what we call ‘friend love’ or ‘PHILOS’. Yes, this is how Philadelphia got its name as the ‘city of brotherly love’. You’ll see this kind of love when reading about the churches in Act 2 and in Galations 6:10 – ‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.’
Then there is ‘romantic love’ or ‘EROS’. This is a little deeper, more intimate love that can be expressed physically, mentally, and emotionally. God’s design for this kind of love allows marriage to b the closest thing we have on earth to the spiritual relationship of Jesus and His church. Of course since marriage unites to imperfect, sinful people, it’s super messy, and I’m begging you not to compare your husband to Jesus! But if we approach this ‘EROS’ love through a lens of holy adoration, intimacy, forgiveness, and service, the result can be quite beautiful with the help of Christ and the Holy Spirit! My husband and I find benefit in a weekly email from the Gottman Institute – click here to sign up!
One unique aspect of ‘EROS’ is the gift of physical intimacy. I realize this is a hot topic and one that can stir up a lot of pain and shame. Yet I pray regardless of your past, your future is filled with beauty and life in the bedroom. And I pray the Lord brings restoration and intimacy into your marriage. I think this quote and prayer are from Beth Moore’s study, but don’t quote me. 😉
There’s plenty of baggage even within the church about sex and marriage. Pleasing your husband can often be presented as a wife’s duty rather than a joy. I’ve been there and I’m guessing many of you have as well. Yet it breaks my heart how the enemy uses our culture, friendships, and even abuse to distort the gift God intended for sex. So I’m praying with you for freedom in the bedroom! And if you want to spice things up, certain barre moves make for a fun connection! I pray barre expands your confidence and physical intimacy! Barre for the Bedroom, anyone? (Yes, I went there . . . I’d rather we talk about sex in biblical community instead of getting our knowledge from movies or social media.)
Now to the best kind – AGAPE love. This is the love of God. The 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. The love WE ARE INCAPABLE OF! Our action is to respond to this type of amazing love! ‘Agape is expressed through me when I surrender to the empowerment and temperament of the Holy Spirit.’ – Beth Moore. This is sacrificial love . . . ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice’. (Romans 12:1) ‘Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your strength, and ALL your mind. [Then] love your neighbor as yourself!’ (Matthew 22:37-39) I added the ‘then’ because pure love is an overflow of His love in us!
We often discuss love in terms of giving, serving, helping, showing love to others. But I’m learning how we RECEIVE love may be even more valuable than how we GIVE love. Let’s stop to answer two important questions:
- Do you believe your husband loves you with an ‘EROS’ kind of love?
- Do you believe your God love you with an ‘AGAPE’ kind of love?
Because the truth is, if you can’t answer ‘yes’ to these, freedom in Christ is going to be fleeting. I’m guessing your husband doesn’t tell you he loves you constantly nor does he compliment your effort, body, love, etc daily. So why do we fill in the gaps or create a story in our heads that he must then not appreciate me, must not be attracted to me, or must not love me. What if we daily loved our husbands in a way that we fully believed they loved us, just as we are today, with an EROS kind of love.
On that same note, why do we struggle to accept and live in God’s unconditional, abundant, everlasting love? Why do we cling to shame, hang on to hurt, attempt to control, give grace to others but not ourselves, strive to follow all the ‘rules of righteousness’, and keep score of our behavior, our husband’s, and others? We have a tough time believing in this agape love because God’s love surpasses knowledge and understanding (Eph 3:19). But just as love is a choice, we just chose to believe in love! So let’s grab hold of faith, believe God’s telling the truth, trust Him in love, and move forward with His Spirit of Love filling our hearts, souls, strength, and minds.
Lord, consume us with your love. Reveal its power in this season and allow us to grow and thrive like never before. Free us from our own insecurities, pain, abuse, control, etc that hinder Your love! Fill us with your love so we overflow and produce abundant fruit bearing Your name!
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. . . And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. . . Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. – I John 4:11-12, 16, 19 NIV
Joy! Fruit of the Spirit #2. Scripture clearly states God’s love surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:9) and His peace is beyond understanding (Phil 4:7), so we shouldn’t be surprised joy, sandwiched between love and peace, is also a challenge to fully comprehend. Complete and full joy is best seen through a pursuit of love, freedom, and gratitude . . . regardless of our circumstances. Let’s dive into His word to provide some clarity, contradict culture, and experience His true joy!
We’re supposed to consider is pure joy when we face trials?! Interesting . . . So regardless whether you’ve read this verse above hundreds of times or this is the first time seeing these ironic words combined into truth, process each word above slowly.
So now He’s telling us to find joy in our weaknesses?! I know, right?! But just check out this passage – fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:12. Yes, you read that correctly. Jesus was crucified for JOY?! Let’s read The Passion Translation of this same scripture to provide a little clarity.
His heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be His! So when we read Romans 12:12 (below), we can see how even Jesus was joyful in hope of the future relationship we would have with Him.
We can be joyful in hope as we look towards the future. Like the woman described in Proverbs 31, through Jesus and His fruit of joy, we can be ‘clothed with strength and dignity’ and ‘can laugh at the days to come’. (Proverbs 31:25) I love the correlation of strength and dignity and the idea of completeness.
It’s super important to note that the entire chapter of John leading up to verse 11 emphasizes how Jesus is the Vine, life to fullest is lived remaining in Him and remaining in love. Check it out here! And in connecting to the Vine, our joy can be complete! The fruit of joy is produced through the power of the Vine in us.
What’s even better is the joy found in doing life with other believers. Praying, supporting, encouraging, and loving each other in community. Paul mentions this in Phillippians 1. Because like we always say in Holy Barre, we’re better together!
I pray that these truths actually fill you with joy! A joy, thriving from the Vine, rooted in gratitude, love, and freedom, that draws you closer and closer to Him. Regardless of our present trials, weaknesses, unknown future, etc, we rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. Because He is our source of joy! Our the overflow of His joy in us bears such beauty and power.
We must pursue peace, Friends. Yes, it’s freely given to us as believers and as branches of the Vine. But the fruit of peace can so easily rot! Fear, worry, anxiety, lies, shame, guilt, too much info, too little info, attempts to control, etc are all used by the enemy to infest our bountiful harvest of peace and thus steal our joy and invade our love.
There’s a reason the Gospel of Peace is included in the Armor of God, we must stay rooted in His peace and stand firm on His holy fertile ground. So what does that look like? We stay connected to the Vine, to His truth, to His purpose, and to His rule. I received a reminder from Her True Worth recently that ‘peace isn’t just a promise from God, it is a guide’.
We pursue peace and prune the choices that hinder His gift of peace from thriving in our lives. As we fight for peace, we seek Him first. We seek first the Kingdom of God. When faced with choices, we chose the Vine and His peace.
Stand firm in peace! The enemy loves to disrupt our peace and break down our joy. The gospel is founded on His love and peace, just as our feet must be founded on secure, solid ground.
Like joy, true peace can be best revealed in the midst of struggle, battle, chaos and commotion. The gospel is based on our having a peace beyond understanding – having peace with God establishes our relationship with Him so we can experience the peace of God. Pursue peace with God first and grab hold of the Gospel, the Good News, the story of Jesus our Lord, the abundant life from the Vine!
Ah, patience. Patience is definitely a virtue and a characteristic of God. Let’s begin by continuing the Vine and fruit analogy. We can all agree that gardening is not a rushed or speedy process. Even something as simple as pulling weeds requires patience as if you move too quickly, you’ll disrupt the good growth by removing the bad. Out of curiosity, I searched online to see how long it takes to grow a successful vineyard. Here’s one response from Wine Spectator, emphasis mine.
‘Grapevines are typically planted in the spring, and as much as they might grow that season, it’s unlikely that they will yield grapes by harvesttime. The following year, a grapegrower can expect to see a lot of growth and some grapes, but that first crop of fruit usually consists of very small, sour berries that aren’t suitable for making wine. But by the third harvest, growers can expect to get a proper yield of wine grapes. In winemaker lingo, each growing season is nicknamed a “leaf.” So a grapevine will be ready to produce grapes for wine by the “third leaf.”
But not everyone makes wine with that first successful harvest. Some wineries won’t use grapes from vines younger than a decade or even older for their top wines, and until then the grapes are used to make lesser wines or sold to other wineries.
I realize lots have changed in our world since Bibles time, but I doubt the time it takes to grow good fruit has quickened that much. So when the Lord Jesus says He is the Vine and we are branches, remaining in Him to bear fruit, I don’t think He means one and done! Producing patience and living in the freedom of His timing is not a quick and process. But praise the Lord that He is so very patient with us! And His patience with us is a gift and example for His glory!
I’m currently going through another Bible study about the Trinity. It’s meaty and full of powerful truth yet a challenge to fully understand and process. It’s been reminding me how patient the Father is with me as I dig deep and seek Him. The Spirit reveals His truth and love as well as my idols and misunderstandings. I have to laugh at the lies I’ve believed over the years as well as the pride I’ve let creep up as a leader. Thank you, Lord, for your continued patience with me and desire to see me bear fruit and bloom each season.
While I love a good analogy as much as the next person, the patience we’re talking about here is more in regards to people rather than things. While we have to be patient when it comes to gardening, waiting on answers to prayers, or any other aspect of our purposed timeline, true patience comes in the form of being patient with other people. I know, I know . . . that’s even harder! Ha!
Beth Moore states, ‘Patience is inspired by mercy, devoid of condemnation, and evidence of the presence and power of our Holy God.’ So producing patience is often reflected in our inaction, our ability to pause, breath and bite our tongue, our pursuit of prayer, praise, and forgiveness, and in our belief that everyone is doing the best they can. And there are times we need to zoom out and see the picture of what He’s doing so we can zoom back in with more love, joy, peace, and patience (and kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.) Also, we must, must, must be patience with ourselves! Progress and growth come little by little, which actually produces sustainable fruit.
I have found great comfort over the years in this quote – ‘God is never in a hurry but He is always on time.’ And I believe it’s how we handle the waiting that can bear the most fruit! So as you wait, show mercy, forgive, be real, cry out, hope, repent, restore, reach out, and be still before the Lord! That’s how we burn bright, better together!
Oh, Lord, thank you for being so patient with us!
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:9-14 NIV
Kindness & Goodness
Beth Moore in Living Beyond Yourself introduced kindness and goodness together, as two fruit that go hand in hand. And ever since going through her study years ago, I have seen this truth played out again and again! I realize this verse below seems a bit random to include in this study, but let’s dive in.
In the context of the fruit of the Spirit, we’re likely familiar with ‘kindness’. We desire kindness from others, praise the Lord for His kindness towards us, and know the value in showing kindness to others. We also fully realize that our showing kindness is easiest when it’s an outpouring of His kindness in us!
Kindness is vital to our nature and to living in the freedom we have in Christ! Showing kindness truly reflects who Jesus is and is one way we put His love into action. As mentioned in the verse below, it’s interesting to see kindness listed with justice and righteousness.
When it comes to goodness, I’ve seen a variety of definitions and applications presented around this fruit. Maybe it’s because the word ‘good’ is so overused in our world and definitely can have a broad meaning. And while I completely support and agree with an emphasis of being and doing good through His Spirit, the ‘goodness’ listed in Galatians 5 might be a little more specific. Various translations of this fruit point more towards virtue, benevolence, accountability, obedience, and righteous living. All these word associations are in fact good of course, but ‘goodness’ might not always feel good! Bearing the fruit of goodness might involve some toughness. In goodness, we sharpen, rebuke, and even correct, believing we are better together. So as with all fruit, goodness should come from the Vine and be Spirit-led.
Goodness is best understood when considered, compared, and contrasted to the quality of kindness.Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself
Kindness paired with goodness are powerful, life-giving fruit! If each are separated, kindness could be interpreted as purely ‘feel good’ while goodness could be interpreted as purely ‘do good or else’!
So let’s revisit that first at the top about snakes and doves. As we remain in the Vine, bear fruit, love God and others, and burn bright, we must cling to both kindness and goodness, just as He has called us to be innocent as doves and shrewd as snakes. We must show kindness and be pure of heart and be virtuous and pursue righteousness. We must settle into the balance and stand firm, dancing to the rhythms of His grace on His holy ground!
Our faithfulness is founded upon God’s faithfulness. As with all fruit of the Spirit, our being faithful is our response to His continually being faithful to us! But while ‘faith’ is a common word in our language, the idea of ‘faith’ is honestly a mystery. To have faith is basically being okay with not fully understanding or grasping all the ways God is faithful to us! So our response is to keep our eyes fixed on and remain in Him and pursue the mystery of faith in Jesus Christ!
When it comes to faithfulness, we must believe ‘in’ more than believe ‘that’. Our faith can’t be dependent upon outcomes but must be founded on His everlasting love and truth. Faithfulness is lived out little by little and seen through obedience in the moment. ‘For we live by faith, not by sight.’ 2 Cor 5:7
Faithfulness is resting in His certainty, being persuaded by His honesty, trusting in His reality, being won over by His veracity . . . being sure that He’s sure and believing He’s worth believing.’Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself
Faithfulness spurs us forward with boldness, confidence, gratitude, hope, and power as we trust in our Father and His plans. In scripture, faithfulness and righteousness are often discussed together like in these two passages below.
Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. – Isaiah 11:5
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. – Psalm 85:10
If faithfulness is believing what the Lord says, righteousness is doing what the Lord says. Or some even go so far as the say these two words are more synonymous than complimentary. Both are included in the Armor of God and serve protect and strengthen us. So we can say with confidence . . .
To keep the faith, we stay connected to the Vine. We keep our eyes on Him. His faithfulness reaches to the skies (Psalm 36:5) and continues through all generations (Psalm 100:5). Even when we are faithless, God is faithful! And through the Spirit, we produce His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness . . .
Let’s start with talking about Jesus, a true gentle giant! Gentleness, as portrayed by Christ, is not weakness but actually controlled strength. His life and ministry exemplified spiritual gentleness – not getting easily frazzled or offended. It’s taking a deep breath and interacting with others and the Spirit with an open heart.
Let your true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewelry, and fine clothes.
1 Peter 3:3-4
When researching this fruit of the Spirit, these words were found to help define gentleness: teachable, submissive to the Lord, humble, aware, and repentant. In addition, the opposite of living out gentleness is being easily offended.
Gentleness gives such a stark contrast to our culture today as those around us almost take pride in getting offended, pursuing self-help, believing their way is right, taking charge, and only surrounding themselves with like-minded people. May we stand out as gentle and loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, and faithful. And may our message be one of remaining in the Vine, always acknowledging our fruit and strength and power come from the Lord.
As Beth Moore says, let’s leave condemnation to God and conviction to the Holy Spirit.
And as Lisa Bevere states, like the lioness, let’s be at ease with strength and at rest with power.
This is the last characteristic for a reason! Having self-control is way easier when the other eight traits are present! Self-control can simply be seen as walking in step with the Spirit.
Beth Moore states, ‘Self-control is the decision to remain within the boundaries of victory.’ Or as Proverbs states, a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Prov 25:28). Physical discipline and spiritual discipline are connected. While I don’t want you to focus on controlling and tracking and restraining the physical aspects of your life, there is value in applying self-control to all areas – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual!
I loved this statement from our YouVersion reading plan: ‘But the soil of God’s love in Christ is rich enough to produce all the self-control you need.’ Amen! The fruit of the Spirit is definitely not natural . . . BUT GOD! But His soil! But His Vine! But His Living Water! But His Light! But His Pruning! But His tender care! But His faithful promise of growth and abundance!
Stay connected, Friends! The fruit-filled freedom will follow!
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The Fruit of the Spirit is also a wonderful study to walk through with children. While they may not be able to fully grasp the analogies of abiding and staying connected to the Vine to bear fruit and what that looks like in their lives, the individual Fruit of the Spirit are valuable characteristics for even the littlest of minds! I love this resource linked below as it includes lessons, imagery, and activities for each! Check it out!