What are the Fruits of the Spirit? Are the fruits something edible or tangible? Are we intended to be or make spiritual fruit? What actually produces spiritual fruit and how do we experience it?
To address our questions it is helpful to realize God designed each of us to function with natural flesh and heavenly spirit. We can consciously function during this life as natural ‘and’ spiritual people (a). God intends for us to grow and reach levels of maturity in this world by interacting with natural and spiritual realities (b). We have the capacity to experience life in both of these realms and produce fruitful expressions.
Natural or Spiritual Fruit
Physically, we understand fruit comes from branches that are connected to a tree or vine. The type and quality of life within these sources produce fruit as expressions. The fruits of our natural life are the things we produce, like a home, a useful tool, a work of art, as well as products and systems that improve life.
These valuable expressions are the result of our time and efforts. We realize however, that all natural things belong to this temporal realm and do not have eternal effects.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (c).
In a fuller sense, Scripture uses branches and fruit as an analogy to illustrate how expressions that flow from us are the spiritual fruit of our life. The ‘fruit’ these verses identify are a type and quality of expression that exceeds natural things. These expressions reflect the attitude and Spirit of God (d). The admonition is for us to walk by the Spirit – to live by these heavenly attitudes.
Spiritual ‘fruit’ are a type and quality of expression that exceeds natural things.
Exceeding Natural Things
How do we experience the “exceeding” fruit of God’s Spirit? We entertain and give ourselves to these expressive qualities! The wise King Solomon said; “As he (a person) thinks within himself, so is he” (e). Jesus expanded on this discernment by saying; “We are known by what comes out of our mouth” (f), and “the declarations we make are as fruit” (g).
What enables us to think well and be expressions of the fruit of the spirit?
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch…that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit…I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit…My Father is glorified by this“ (h).
Jesus clarified how God delights in our Christ-like expressions, when they reflect our heavenly Father’s attitude. Everything we say, good or bad, becomes our spiritual fruit because our words reveal the type of perceptions we are entertaining and the attitude motivating our expressions.
“You will know them by their fruits… every good tree bears good fruit” (k).
Everyone near us is affected and influenced by what we say, day by day. Do our expressions reflect only temporal ideas and perceptions or do they include the qualities identified as spiritual?
God delights in our Christ-like expressions, when they reflect our heavenly Father’s attitude.
Effects of Attitude
When someone says or does something considered odd or out of character, we may ask “Where did that come from?” Jesus addressed this ‘bad fruit’ when responding to an accusation from children of Abraham:
You are of your father the devil…for he is a liar, and the father of it (l).
It’s helpful to understand the Greek word translated in our Bibles as ‘devil’ means: a slanderous accuser seeking to separate. Jesus did not say these descendants of Abraham were actual children of one we call ‘the devil’. Rather, their attitude in that moment sought to ‘slander and separate,’ in contrast to what God was doing (m).
During this life, we are all prone to thoughts and feelings that often become frustrations, hurts, fears, and anger. These irritations can produce negative attitudes, influencing what we say to become bad fruit. Oh yes, mature believers are even prone to occasionally be motivated by bad fruit (n). Sincere repentance reduces our tendency to continue making such expressions (0).
Does our attitude express good spiritual fruit or tend to “slander and separate?”
Experiencing Spiritual Fruit
Let us continue to entertain the fruits of the spirit so they can settle in and become a personal perception of what is true and real. The concepts we accept as truthful formulate attitudes that influence the words and tone of our expressions. We want to realize that we can say the right thing with a wrong attitude and it will still be as bad fruit. What is Scripture’s remedy for such obstructive attitudes?
Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you (p).
God intends for each of us to fully experience and mature into fruitful expressions of His Spirit. Living with the reality that exceeds natural things brings many benefits, improving our personal life and the lives of those within our realms of influence.
We can all love more fully and be more patient; show more kindness, goodness, and gentleness; be more faithful and even exercise more self-control. With Christ’s help, may we strive more to live and walk as spiritual people who bear more Fruit of the Spirit of God. For this is eternal life (q).
Living with the spiritual reality that exceeds natural things brings many benefits.
a) Genesis 2:7-9; b) Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Timothy 5:8; 3:5; c) Galatians 5:22-23, 25; d) John 17:3; 5:24; e) Proverbs 23:7; f) Luke 6:44-45; g) Matthew 7:16, 20; h) John 15:1-5, 8; k) Matthew 7:16-17; l) John 8:44; m) John 8:12-15, 30-59; n) Ephesians 4:29-32; o) Acts 3:19; 8:22; p) Colossians 3:12-13; q) John 17:3; 5:24; 6:40