Post By: Dana Davenport, Contributor
From Galatians 5:22, we know that the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity (goodness), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), and self-control. I was thinking about them yesterday and it came to me that they really build upon one another. It does make sense what Joyce Meyer teaches that each one is like a book with love and self-control being like bookends that hold them together. I think that’s a good way to think about them, but I also think that they build on one another and rely on one another.
When we follow the greatest commands of the Lord to love Him with our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves, we begin developing the Fruit. God’s love for each of us teaches us how to love so we can obey that command. Through loving the Lord, others, and ourselves, we have joy. It’s no coincidence that an acronym for JOY is Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. Also, love brings joy to the Lord and the joy of the Lord is our strength to do all things for Him. As we continue to love and have joy from within, we gain the peace that Jesus left us with. With peace, comes the patience to serve others, endure seasons of waiting, and simply live life. Patience is a necessity in the life of a Christian and it crumbles easily without the foundations of love, joy, and peace. You can surprise yourself with how much patience you have when you love the Lord, have joy in your heart, and have peace that surpasses all understanding.
Kindness comes as these other Fruit have taught you the benefits of being kind to others. It helps you to love and encourage them, and pierce through barriers that wouldn’t otherwise be able to penetrate. Kindness brings you to the next step of generosity in which you actually want to be good to others and give to them rather because it benefits them and is pleasing to the Lord. Even with all of these “seeds” of the Fruit, it takes faithfulness to continue living out the Fruit of the Spirit. This is a point where weariness can easily set in. Perhaps, this is why faithfulness is placed here because, in faith, we are assured many things that will help us keep going –namely, not to grow weary in well-doing because we will reap the benefits in due season if we faint not. It is our faithfulness to the Lord that is an ever-present reminder of our gentleness, also referred to as meekness. Developing the Fruit of the Spirit is a big task and so is living as a Christian. Gentleness keeps our hearts humble because we simply cannot do it alone. Besides, why would we want to? God can do so much more than we can by ourselves and gentleness is the reminder that we need Him in every area of our lives. A gentle spirit is a humble spirit that thinks of oneself as a vessel for the Lord who is surrendered to the Lord’s will.
Finally, self-control develops with each one of these because it takes discipline and control to keep on keeping on. It is challenging to develop the Fruit of the Spirit and be a Christian who is truly known by his/her Fruit. Self-control extends to every area of our lives (e.g. eating habits, thoughts, how we treat our bodies, upholding commitments), and with all of the other Fruit within us, we use self-control to carry those into every area of our lives too.
Dana Davenport is a life-long Roman Catholic from Maryland. Her life goal is simply to help as many people as she can. One of her greatest passions is Christian unity, and she seeks to learn and share in faith with people from diverse backgrounds."