“The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian, says Todd Shupe. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23).
These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the fruits. In this article, former LSU professor Todd Shupe explains the nine attributes.
1. Love: Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it and it gives without expecting anything back. “Agape” describes the unconditional love God has for the world.
2. Joy: Joy is contentment that is independent of the good or bad things that happen to us, says Todd Shupe. True joy is evident in gladness during hard times (James 1:2-4). This is a supernatural joy that comes from the Spirit and is present regardless of our circumstances.
3. Peace: Peace from the Spirit and transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and gives us a sense of calm knowing that God is in control and He loves us dearly.
4. Patience: Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance and steadfastness. Patience includes the concepts of forbearance, long-suffering and the willingness to bear wrongs patiently (Romans 5:3-4).
5. Kindness: This fruit is evident in a desire to serve others, according to Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor. Kindness is the light that will conquer the darkness (malice).
6. Goodness: True goodness is the character of God. Goodness is exhibited by your desire to see goodness in others and recognize all others as children of God.
7. Faithfulness: A faithful person has integrity beyond reproach. We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
8. Gentleness: Gentleness chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness and lives in tranquility.
9. Self-control: Self-control is dying to our self and our desires of the flesh. It is choosing to live in the Spirit and follow His will.
We should all periodically review this list. One of the hardest things we can do is an honest self-evaluation of ourselves. John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, recognized this and organized “class meetings” in which attendance was mandatory and participants were asked to honestly answer questions regarding their spiritual health. The mission statement of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. A disciple should be able to honestly assess his or her status on the nine fruits of the Spirit above.
“I pray that we all will be a better disciple each day and will help bring about transformation of the world,” says Todd Shupe.