“On the ninth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . nine ladies dancing . . .”

Once again we turn to St. Paul to give us our list of “ladies”:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)

In this short passage, one that follows Paul’s non-exhaustive list of the works of the flesh which battle against this fruit of the Spirit, the missionary gives to us the kind of characteristics that are prominent in the life of a Christian. These are the fruit (not fruits) of the Spirit which tells us a couple of things. First, since it is not plural, the items mentioned are varieties of the same thing (not separate thing altogether); and second, they are inter-related and may separately be the manifestation at various times of Christ’s Spirit in the life of an individual, depending upon circumstance.

As most evangelical preachers, I have a series of sermons dedicated to studying each variety of the fruit, while trying to remember that they are all but one. I’ve heard others’ (or portions of others’) series which have been creatively named with wit and audacity things like: Juicy Fruit (a personal favorite) and Tasty. Even now, I’m in the process of preparing the manuscript version of my own sermon series entitled Be Fruitful. In any case, you should be able to find adequate discussion of the fruit of the Spirit almost anywhere. And when you do you will find:

  1. Love — self-giving, selfless, unlimited, unqualified, and unequaled love,
  2. Joy — unhindered, unmitigated joy full and overflowing,
  3. Peace — not the absence of strife, but rather the presence of calm that knows no understanding,
  4. Patience — endurance in the most trying of circumstances (whatever happened to that superb Shakespearean/KJV word “longsuffering”?),
  5. Kindness — even when others are not kind. This benevolence takes root and reins in us,
  6. Faithfulness — through thick and thin, good and bad, or as we often repeat in modern wedding vows in our western civilization, “for better,  for worse; in sickness and in health; for richer, for poorer; until death alone should part us,”
  7. Goodness — more than just nice or polite, but truly good. Good that comes from and imitates God (from whom goodness springs), good,
  8. Gentleness — finding that loving, tender touch with which to address all problems. It’s more than just tact (although most of us could learn some more of that), it is a calming spirit with which to approach all situations as a mother would comfort her child, and
  9. Self-control — last in the list because it is the most difficult for us to wrangle, getting control of ourselves. How nice it is that this is another affectation of the Spirit of God (who is actually in control and not us) dwelling in our lives.

So, let the fruit of the Spirit bud, blossom, emerge and ripen in your life. To do so, you must have the Spirit working within your life, so let Him. And in the meantime watch and wait patiently for Be Fruitful to hit the book stores (but don’t hold your breath).