The fruits of the Spirit are quite literally those attributes that develop in your daily life as you live in the Spirit – that is – if you allow the Spirit of God to control your life. These things, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control will begin to appear in your life from that very moment you give your life to Him by inviting Jesus to be your Savior. It is interesting that they grow in your life in the very same order that they appear in the Holy scriptures, thus the 1st fruit is love, the 2nd is joy, and so on.
- Fruit – Not Gifts
Confusing these fruits with the gifts of the spirit is a common error. The gifts are listed in 1st Corinthians 12, and they are gifts that may appear from time to time in our spiritual life, just as the Holy Spirit wills. These spiritual gifts may be temporary, depending on our needs, or they may be more permanent and form the basis of a particular gift or ministry – E.G., Wisdom or working miracles. We can specially ask God for one or more of these gifts if we so wish.
- Self-Control Is A Result, NOT An Aim!
Be aware that self control is the last item on the list. God does everything he does as part of His purpose, and therefore there is some meaning in the fact that self control is listed last. I believe the reason for this is that this gift comes naturally when we do have all the other gifts in place. It is an error to attempt to impose self-control on ourselves; it is much better that it develops naturally as a “side-effect” of the work of God’s holy spirit. When we try to impose this on ourselves with an effort of will we are falling into the trap of relying on our own strength, instead of leaving it all to God. We are told in scripture to seek first the kingdom of heaven and then all these things will be added unto us. In other words, if we are simply obedient, then the gifts and the rewards will flow on to us.
- Fruit Grows Naturally.
The fruits of the spirit are elements that grow in us as the Holy Spirit does its work in our life. We do not consciously grow these things, they are the side effects of our obedience to God. The new covenant states that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our minds, and our neighbour as ourselves. So the fruit of love that grows in us is a result of being obedient to that command. As we express that love that has grown in us as a result of giving ourselves to God, we become filled with joy, the joy that we share with God and with our fellows. It grows naturally – we do not DECIDE to be joyful, it just happens. And so on, and so on, with the other gifts as the Spirit works in our lives.