The 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit are a beautiful picture of what it means to be a Christian. They are the qualities that we should strive to develop in our lives as we follow Jesus.
This is the most important fruit of the Spirit. It is an unconditional love for God and for others, even those who are difficult to love.
"It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit. In I Corinthians 13, Paul attributes to love all the fruits of the Spirit: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind," etc. Here he lets love stand by itself among other fruits of the Spirit to remind the Christians to love one another, "in honor preferring one another," to esteem others more than themselves because they have Christ and the Holy Ghost within them."
Joy: This is a deep abiding joy that comes from knowing God and His love. It is not dependent on circumstances, but it is a constant source of strength and hope.
"Joy means sweet thoughts of Christ, melodious hymns and psalms, praises and thanksgiving, with which Christians instruct, inspire, and refresh themselves. God does not like doubt and dejection. He hates dreary doctrine, gloomy and melancholy thought. God likes cheerful hearts. He did not send His Son to fill us with sadness, but to gladden our hearts. For this reason the prophets, apostles, and Christ Himself urge, yes, command us to rejoice and be glad. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee." (Zec 9:9) In the Psalms we are repeatedly told to be "joyful in the Lord." Paul says: "Rejoice in the Lord always." Christ says: "Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven."
Peace: This is a peace that surpasses all understanding. It is a sense of calm and tranquility that comes from trusting in God's sovereignty and goodness.
"Peace towards God and men. Christians are to be peaceful and quiet. Not argumentative, not hateful, but thoughtful and patient. There can be no peace without longsuffering, and therefore Paul lists this virtue next."
Long Suffering: This is the ability to bear with difficult people and situations without becoming angry or resentful. It is a fruit of strength and maturity.
"Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run. He knows that we are weak and cannot stand anything long. Therefore he repeats his temptation time and again until he succeeds. To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game."
Kindness: This is a gentle and compassionate attitude towards others. It is a fruit of love and concern for others.
A person is kind when he is not quick to get angry. Many things occur in daily life to provoke a person's anger, but the Christian gets over his anger by kindness.
Goodness: This is a desire to do what is right and good. It is a fruit of obedience to God's will.
"A person is good when he is willing to help others in their need."
Faithfulness: This is the ability to keep promises and to be reliable. It is a fruit of trust in God and His promises.
"In listing faith among the fruits of the Spirit, Paul obviously does not mean faith in Christ, but faith in men. Such faith is not suspicious of people but believes the best. Naturally the possessor of such faith will be deceived, but he lets it pass. He is ready to believe all men, but he will not trust all men. Where this virtue is lacking men are suspicious, forward, and wayward and will believe nothing nor yield to anybody. No matter how well a person says or does anything, they will find fault with it, and if you do not humor them you can never please them. It is quite impossible to get along with them. Such faith in people therefore, is quite necessary. What kind of life would this be if one person could not believe another person?"
Gentleness: This is a mild and considerate attitude towards others. It is a fruit of humility and self-control.
"Gentleness in conduct and life. True followers of the Gospel must not be sharp and bitter, but gentle, mild, courteous, and soft-spoken, which should encourage others to seek their company. Gentleness can overlook other people's faults and cover them up. Gentleness is always glad to give in to others. Gentleness can get along with forward and difficult persons, according to the old pagan saying: "You must know the manners of your friends, but you must not hate them." Such a gentle person was our Savior Jesus Christ, as the Gospel portrays Him. Of Peter it is recorded that he wept whenever he remembered the sweet gentleness of Christ in His daily contact with people. Gentleness is an excellent virtue and very useful in every walk of life."
Self-control: This is the ability to control one's thoughts, emotions, and actions. It is a fruit of maturity and discipline.
"Christians are to lead sober and chaste lives. They should not be adulterers, fornicators, or sensualists. They should not be quarrelers or drunkards. In the first and second chapters of the Epistle to Titus, the Apostle admonishes bishops, young women, and married folks to be chaste and pure."
The 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit are not something that we can produce in ourselves. They are the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. As we grow in our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will produce these fruits in our lives, transforming us into the image of Christ.
Here are some ways to grow in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit:
* Spend time in prayer and Bible study. This is how we get to know God and His love for us.
* Serve others. This is how we put our love into action and show others the love of Christ.
* Be patient and kind. This is how we show others the gentleness and goodness of God.
* Trust in God. This is how we develop the faith and self-control that we need to live a life that is pleasing to Him.