“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Spiritual integrity in the life of a Christian and in the life of the Christian community displays the fruit of the Spirit. This passage gives us a list of nine qualities of the fruit of the Spirit.
It is no surprise that love is listed as the first fruit of the Spirit. Love is the foundation — the very heart — of the Christian life. John says that love is evidence that we know God (1 John 4:7-8). Paul devotes an entire chapter to the primacy of love (1 Cor 13). Romans 5.5 says that the Spirit has poured his love into us. 1 John 3.11-18 says that Spirit-led believers express a sincere love for others and express their love for God, who “first loved us.” Ephesians 3 tells us to “be rooted and grounded in love.”
The word for ‘love” in this passage is agape, which is the noblest, highest level of love in the Greek language. It is the word scripture uses for God’s love for us. It is the kind of love the Lord calls us to exercise toward others. It is used approximately 320 times in the New Testament, including here in Galatians 5 to describe the first fruit of the Spirit.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13.35)
Joy is inner gladness and delight that is grounded in a close relationship with God. The Spirit produces a life of satisfying joy and fulfillment, while living according to the old nature only leads to constant dissatisfaction. Joy is not a one-time occurrence or a periodic emotion; God wants us to have exceeding joy and delight in him every day of our lives.
Joy rests upon a firm knowledge of the truth concerning our relationship with God and the incredible blessings we have received in Christ, including our future of everlasting life with the Lord. Joy is always linked to the grace of God, as the Greek word for joy actually comes from the same root as the word “grace.”
Joy rejoices in the magnificent grace of God and displays an inner awareness that by the grace of God we are who we are. Joy is a manifestation of living in the presence of God and gives us great strength to do what the Lord has called us to do. Joy is a deep, overwhelming celebration that arises from our unwavering trust and love for God. Joy rejoices in everything that God has done for us and everything he promises to do for us in the future. It is a true inner celebration and delight in the goodness of God.
The gospel of Jesus Christ brings good tidings of great joy to all who believe it. God does not want his children full of sorrow, depression, sadness, misery, and gloom. God wants us to be full of joy. No matter how challenging our circumstances or how intense the trials we face, we can have deep and overwhelming joy in our hearts.
“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8.10).
Peace is the Greek word eirene. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew shalom (verb shalal), which means “fulfillment and completeness.” The biblical principle of peace is powerful. However, as with love, God’s definition of peace is very different from the world’s definition of peace. Jesus addressed this in John 14.27 when he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The peace Jesus gives is not the absence of conflict. It is not about “peaceful circumstances.” Rather, it is about a Spirit-empowered inner peace — a condition of heart and mind — that produces in us a condition of heart and mind that gives us calm, which then gives us clarity, which then gives us confidence. That is the peace the Spirit gives: calm, clear, and confident in the midst of the many situations of life. The world simply cannot give this kind of peace. It is only available in relationship to the Creator God.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
More fruit of the Spirit next week.