According to the Bible, ‘fruits of the spirit’ are a set of qualities that connect a person to the Holy Spirit. The word ‘fruit’ is used to signify the results of hard work and effort made to attain these qualities. The purpose of imbibing these attributes is to eliminate the sins and vices which arise from the ‘works of flesh’. It is believed that each fruit exists inside a person, and he/she can awaken it with trust and faith in Lord Jesus.
The fruits are a consequence of a believer’s intentions, behaviors, and actions. There are several verses in the Bible that affirm the divinity and positivity of these attributes. Originally, the term ‘fruit’ is used in a singular form. This fruit can be divided into parts and the integrated whole brings one closer to Lord Christ. In other words, the ‘fruits of the spirit’ refer to the ideal character traits of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that there is no law against these traits as they are bestowed upon us by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What are the fruits of the spirit?
The nine fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Below is a detailed description for understanding as to ‘what are the fruits of the spirit’.
Love (or charity)
Love denotes the unconditional feeling of goodwill towards others like the one we receive from God. This kind of love does not judge anyone on his/her worth or asks for anything in return. It seeks to keep the desires and needs of others above oneself. Akin to the giving nature of Almighty, love aims at the highest good and welfare of all. Unlike the emotions that develop by chance, Biblical love is inculcated by choice and will as a part of person’s character.
Biblical verses state that love inspires truth and shuns evil. While all other things cease or die, love neither despairs nor fails.
Joy is the deepest and purest form of happiness that exists irrespective of the circumstances. A person who constantly believes in God’s hand in his/her life will be able to retain the true feeling of delight. Joy is not a temporary emotion that arrives during favorable times and vanishes in troubled situations. If it is connected with God, it stands the tests of faith and perseverance.
Joy lends stability and tranquillity to the believer and, thus, assists him/her in overcoming hardships in life. The Bible encourages people to be grateful to Lord and rejoice in whatever He has destined for them.
Peace makes way for the completeness and harmony of the soul. Led by the Holy Spirit, a believer is able to achieve peace even in the unending chaos of the world. When a person is unaffected by outer pressures, his/her life is assured of safety and security. The Bible advises that one should not be anxious about anything at all. The peacemakers are themselves the sons of God.
If a person’s mind is dictated by flesh, he/she gives in to the worldly disorder. But the one who depends upon God and follows the Spirit obtains salvation through Jesus Christ.
Patience is what makes God show mercy and forgive us for our mistakes. The quality of patience enables believers to become long-tempered and wait with a hopeful attitude. It also implies that a person should be compassionate and understanding towards the flaws and faults of others. Bible advocates that a believer should choose leniency and forbearance instead of vengeance. This is similar to the patience with which Lord awaits the return of those who have deviated from the right path.
By being patient, a person also helps others in getting free of vices and listen to the call of the Holy Spirit.
Kindness (or benignity)
Kindness reflects the altruistic nature of Lord Christ. In a world stricken with pain and strife, kindness is one such attribute that can save our soul. Biblical verses preach that a believer should lend a helping hand to anyone in need regardless of the other person’s capability to pay back the favor. A person can be truly kind to one and all if he/she does not indulge in self-righteous judgments.
The Holy Spirit gives strength to believers to go beyond their prejudices and treat everyone as an equal. Kindness makes a person empathetic and considerate in words and deeds.
Goodness resonates with the moral integrity of a person. As per the Bible, a believer will always select the virtuous route even at the cost of earthly fame and material success. A person may be surrounded by limitless temptations to commit wrongs, yet he/she should not abandon the ethical route. It takes immense wisdom and resolve to stick to the principles and goodness of heart.
When a person establishes moral excellence in day-to-day actions, he/she is liberated from the evils inhabiting the world. With one’s own goodness, one can invoke similar traits in others.
In the Bible, faithfulness is regarded as a ‘divine persuasion’ given by God. A believer feels no uncertainty while fulfilling his duties and pursuing truthful ways. Faithfulness serves as proof of his/her confidence and trust in God. It ushers obedience and surrender to the supreme will. On the other hand, disbelief subjects a person to greater distress than he/she is fated for.
It is only during adversities when a person’s faith is put to test. The one who remains consistent in his/her belief in God will eventually receive abundant blessings. While the one whose faith wavers is bound to suffer due to ungratefulness.
Gentleness (or mildness)
Gentleness, also called as meekness, refers to graciousness and generosity of one’s heart. On the face of it, it may appear like a weakness, but it is, in fact, the biggest of all strengths. A gentle person has the potential to pardon his/her worst enemies and accept them with open arms. It is equivalent to the grace with which Lord Christ forgave those who hurt Him. Gentleness evokes a kind of humility in the believer so that he/she can set aside self-interest and restore unity among all.
In this respect, Bible specifies if someone is caught committing a sin, a believer will attempt to reinstate the sinner to his/her true nature rather than doling out punishment.
Self-control (or continence)
Self-control is aimed at restraining oneself and opting for moderation in view of one’s desires. It applies in physical as well as mental aspects. A person should be able to control his/her thoughts, emotions, and actions. Bible professes that excess of any kind generates greed, anger, and other vices. But adopting self-discipline prevents a person from falling prey to sins. Continence is seen as the opposite of ‘works of flesh’ which lead a person astray.
Such type of self-mastery can be gained through spiritual knowledge under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
The above-listed traits appear in both the Catholic and Protestant Bibles. Yet there are three more qualities stated in the Catholic Bible. These are: longanimity, modesty, and chastity. While some are aware of only nine fruits, the official texts claim a total of twelve fruits of the spirit.
Longanimity (or Long-suffering)
Longanimity is the quality of endurance and tolerance while being hurt by others. It is the virtue by which Lord Jesus took on all the pain of the world for the greater good. Bible motivates a feeling of self-sacrifice and an ability to withstand suffering quietly. Along with patience, longanimity endows a believer with a steadfast composure in the midst of trials and tribulations.
This fruit of the spirit plays a crucial role in the spiritual cleansing of a person and ultimately unifies him/her with the Holy Spirit.
Modesty lets a person stay humble despite his/her huge successes and prosperity. A modest being is grateful and credits God for every good he/she has attained in life. Perceiving one’s achievements and merits as one’s own ignites pride and vanity, which in turn provoke ‘works of flesh’. Excessive pride and overconfidence in one’s abilities finally lead to downfall and misfortunes.
The Bible teaches that one should not boast of one’s talents but regard them as gifts from God. Such a believer will always feel contented with what he/she is blessed with. Modesty keeps a person grounded and also connected to the Holy Spirit.
Biblical verses state that one should submit to physical desires in consonance with one’s spiritual nature. It advocates fidelity in marriage as well as a complete submission of one’s soul to God.
The fruits of spirit form a pathway to a relationship with God. The accomplishment of these fruits takes adequate effort, practice, and time on the part of the believer. If one emulates the features of every fruit, one is sure to witness the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in all facets of his/her life.
So, that was your answer to the important question – ‘what are the fruits of the spirit?’ As the world is moving faster and life is becoming more challenging, the teachings of these fruits assume greater relevance today than ever before. Youngsters are awakening to the need of spiritual enlightenment to acquire strength for their struggles.