Fruit of the Spirit: Keeping in Step
Whenever I think about the fruit of the Spirit, I think of a song that I sang at Vacation Bible School many years ago. It goes something like this...”Oh...the fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut. The fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut. If you want to be a coconut you might as well hear it, you can’t be a fruit of the Spirit. Cause the fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control.”
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I would like to say that the fruit of the Spirit is such an important part of the Christian life. One pastor says, “the fruit of the spirit are the character traits of God that are planted by Him in His people.”2 This fruit has to be of God and from God. We cannot look at Galatians 5:22-23 and say that we can be those things in and of ourselves. We just can’t. The source of the fruit is the Holy Spirit Himself.
When we read the book of Galatians and we get to the fruit of the Spirit we see this dichotomy of the ‘works of the flesh’ and the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ This shows us the context in which Paul writes. There is a great level of moralism in the church that Paul wants his readers to see. When we call out the works of the flesh in our own lives we can begin to see those works for what they are and seek to turn away from them towards the fruit of the Spirit by God’s grace.
All of us have different strengths and weaknesses in life. The same goes for the fruit of the Spirit. There will be some parts of this fruit that come naturally to you. Maybe you are naturally gifted with patience towards others. What a blessing that is! Maybe God has given you a certain level of gentleness that allows you to approach others with humility and tenderness to meet them where they are. Please continue to cultivate that!
However, there are some parts of the fruit of the Spirit that you may be very weak in. Maybe you aren’t a patient person, but by God’s grace, you want to be. Maybe you struggle in the area of self-control, but you want to find ways to help grow in it. Whatever your strengths or weaknesses, I hope that this study will be a challenge and encouragement to you wherever you are or whatever circumstances you might be experiencing.
In this study, our goal is to walk through many different parts of the fruit of the Spirit. Each week will aim to get students into the scriptures to better understand what life in the Spirit is all about. This study can be used in your large group, small groups, or individual study.
As I did in the sanctification study, each week will begin with a brief introduction section with quotes from various writers, pastors, and great thinkers of the Christian faith, where students will be asked to rephrase what was said in their own words. This is purposefully done to get the students to start connecting what other godly people have said about these topics and how it connects to the biblical truths that we will study together.
Each lesson also includes application questions, a brief summary, other helpful passages, and a weekly challenge to give students something to do during the week to apply the lessons. Adapt any part of this study as you see fit within the context of your churches. I would encourage you to give illustrations and examples to help communicate the various themes. For continuity, most of the lessons will ask these three questions...
What is it?
Where does it come from? How do we cultivate it?
Living out the principles that are laid out for us in Galatians 5 is not always easy. But by the grace of God, He equips us, “with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). The Holy Spirit was sent as our helper so let us “not grow weary of doing good” (Galatians 6:9) by seeking His help to grow in these areas. May the Lord bless you, and keep you in your study of the fruit of the Spirit.
Grace & Peace,
Andrew “Tree” Triolo