In the last article I talked about the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. Now I want to turn our attention to the fruit of the Spirit. What is the difference between the gifts and fruit of the Spirit? I would put it this way: the gifts are given to express God’s power and the fruit are developed to express God’s character. While a gift can be received instantly, fruit takes time to cultivate and grow in us.
It is important for us to value both the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. Many people want to put them against each other as if when you pursue one you will neglect the other. This is not what the apostle Paul said: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1). Paul said that we should be going after both fruit (love) and gifts, power and character.
With that in mind, let’s look at Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25 (emphasis added):
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Paul is describing a battle that is going on between the sinful nature (the flesh) and the Holy Spirit who lives inside of the believer. Before being born again, we would just give into the desires of the flesh, but after salvation there is a battle that begins to take place. Now we desire to follow the Lord and walk in His ways. Now we have the Holy Spirit in us who is developing His fruit in us:
We can actually possess these character traits because God’s Spirit lives in us and He is producing them in us. The key is living in the reality that our sinful nature is crucified and walking in the Spirit. As we abide in Christ, this fruit will begin to develop and grow in our lives.
The fruit is not for ourselves but for others. It is not the tree who enjoys it’s fruit, but those who pick from it and eat of it. In the same way, when we exhibit these fruit of the Spirit in our lives we bcome a blessing to those around us. They come and eat of the fruit that is being produced in our lives and are nourished.
Let us seek to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. Let us abide in Christ so that His fruit will be produced in our lives and His nature displayed to the world!