Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (NKJV)
Most bible scholars agree that the word “Spirit” should not have been capitalized. It should have been given a small “s” for the simple reason that capitalization gives the wrong impression that the Holy Spirit is the one that bears fruit, but that is not the case. The believers are the one to bear fruit. John 15:2 says “every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit”. If the Holy Spirit was the one bearing fruit, John 15:2, would imply that the Holy Spirit was purging himself so that he would bring forth more fruit. However, we know that the Holy Spirit could not possibly be purging himself; but rather, he is purging the branches (believers) so that they may bear fruit. According to John 15:5, it is the believer’s recreated spirit that produces fruit as he or she abides in Jesus. Galatians 5:22 must then be referring to the “Fruit of the Recreated Human Spirit” not the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit”. The fruit is produced through what God, the source, has deposited into a believer’s spirit, God himself does not produce it, he however gives the believer the ability to do so.
I will comment briefly on the fruits, however, only on six of the nine since some are similar. In expounding on love, goodness can be inferred. Gentleness and meekness are closely associated, so when explaining meekness, I’ll briefly touch gentleness. Temperance and longsuffering are also related; temperance will be highlighted while emphasizing longsuffering.
Love is the first and chief fruit and governs all other fruits. 1 John 3:14 says “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” John did not even say “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we are Born Again“. Yet we know this is true. He did not say “he that is not born again abides in death”. We also know this is true. John makes the verse stronger by using love as the determining factor leading to spiritual life or spiritual death. See, believers do not hate. They may think they do, but they do not, because the love of God is in them. Romans 5:5 says that “the love of God is shed abroad our hearts by the Holy Ghost”. It is a believer’s flesh and un-renewed mind that talks him or her into saying negative things or acting in an uncomely fashion. We must recognize that when our flesh pushes us to do or say something, it not the real us, our spirit man is the real us; it is our carnal nature that is expressing itself and it is necessary that we, as believers, take authority over it.
Joy, unlike happiness, is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in one’s life. In fact, joy is supernatural gladness given by the Spirit of God that usually shows up strong in tough times. This joy comes as a result of focusing on God rather than on circumstances. John 15:11 declares “these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”. Notice the words “remain in you” which imply that this joy comes from the inside and does not depend on circumstances. Also consider the word “full” implying there are degrees to joy. God’s intention is that we have Joy that is not half way full or a third of the way full, but all the way full.
Peace is another product of the recreated human spirit. Peace is “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity”. Peace comes from the assurance that all is well in spite of what is going on around us. If one is confident that everything is fine despite contrary evidence, then one’s mind will certainly be freed from anxiety, worry, mental torment, distraction. This peace does not claim victory based on circumstantial evidence. It however finds expression in God’s word and comfort. John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”.
Longsuffering is the ability to maintain one’s patience and temperance over an extended period of time, even when the flesh or the enemy is tempting one to react to a situation. Or from God’s standpoint, even though he may not be pleased with our actions. Longsuffering is a manifestation of love because 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says “Love suffers long and is kind”. Remember, many people suffer long because they have to but they are not kind while doing it. Longsuffering implies that one does not complain about being patient. It means when someone keeps treating you wrong, you maintain love towards them, you keep treating them right. Remember longsuffering is not just waiting, but it is the manner in which one waits over an extended period of time. Are you waiting in love, and praying while doing so? Or are you raising chaos?
Faith (Faithfulness) is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 1:9 which says “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”. If God is faithful, and he is as the scripture says, then he necessarily requires us to be faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says “moreover it is required in steward[ship], that a man be found faithful”. So as stewards of the almighty God we are required to be faithful. A steward is an overseer of someone else’s resources. Faithfulness is nothing more than effectively carrying out the responsibilities that have been given. What stewardship is not… Stewardship is not carrying out responsibilities that were not placed in your arsenal/possession. One may be performing many tasks and even doing them well, but if it is not God’s plan for one to do so, then faithfulness cannot be granted.
Meekness refers to the gentleness and humility we show towards others. Not being overbearing or unapproachable. Humility (standalone) is our submissive attitude towards God, to receive from him. Saying it another way; our submissive attitude to receive from others (humility) done in a spirit of gentleness = Meekness. Matthew 11:28-29 – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek, KJV] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Notice that God is meek and lowly in heart or humble, approachable, not one that is difficult to approach, ready to receive you. 2nd Corinthians 10:1 – “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.” Again meekness is linked with gentleness and lowliness (humility) and is directed towards others. We must be careful to be approachable and to show gentleness and humility, neither faultfinding nor looking down on others. Galatians 6:1 says “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness (meekness), considering yourself lest you also be tempted”. In these days when people are overtaken in a fault, we sound alarm bells, and make it known to the world. Why? Because we are not spiritual, the verse says “you who are spiritual, restore such a one”. Many of us are not spiritual, because if we were, rather than telling the whole world, we would restore those who are overtaken in a spirit of gentleness.