The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is not a list of things to try harder to attain or maintain. This is a list of exemplary ways the Spirit will manifest His influence in our lives. The text says, “The fruit of the Spirit is…” not “the results of trying harder are…”
Paul uses the word “fruit,” which is something that is produced when trees are rightly connected to the flow of nourishment. It is not the result of striving or straining, but abiding and yielding.
The emphasis of the passage is on the effective role the Spirit has on the ethical life (5:16, 22), as He is the source of life (3:3, 5:25). When He is yielded to and trusted in, He produces these effects.
By supplying a list of virtues, Paul has informed our expectations with regard to the result of the Spirit’s rule. We are to believe that the Spirit is present, that He is powerful, and that He is producing (see what I did there – “produce” and “fruit”?).
Furthermore, the fun thing about fruit is that there is always more. To hold one apple in my hand is to know that I also hold the potential for an orchard. Likewise, there is no limit to the abundance of fruit the Spirit can produce in and through my life.
All of my expectation, all of my confidence, is in and upon the Holy Spirit. But my expectation is informed, and my confidence is focused. I know what qualities His influence should produce, and I choose to walk in those qualities, believing the Holy Spirit is fully present and powerfully working, and that His work is working.
So, I respond to Galatians 5:22 in prayer this way:
“Holy Spirit, I believe you are Love and produce your love in me.”
“Holy Spirit, I believe you are Joy and produce your joy in me.”
“Holy Spirit, I believe you are Peace and produce your peace in me.”
“Holy Spirit, I believe you are Forbearing, and produce your forbearance in me.”
“Holy Spirit, you are kind, and you make me kind.”
“Holy Spirit, you are good, and make me good.”
“Holy Spirit, you are faithful, and make me faithful and full-of-faith.”
“Holy Spirit, you are gentle, and make me gentle.”
“Holy Spirit, you are perfectly controlled, no one and nothing enslaves you – and your presence in me fully empowers me to control myself.”
Let us deeply, gratefully, and confidently depend upon the Holy Spirit to increasingly re-produce in us His own life.
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