“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:16-23).
As God’s children we are to take on His nature, here in Galatians 5 called the fruits of the Spirit. This is not a suggestion or even a request, it is what is expected from us as believers in Jesus Christ.
The fruits of the flesh are those things that separate us from God. They are found in people who chase the false gods of the world, who engage in carnal pleasures to satisfy the emptiness that a lack of God has left and who reject the one true God to become their own gods. They often chose anger over love, strife over peace and impatience over fortitude. In the wake of their dissention they repeatedly leave broken hearts, broken relationships, and broken promises.
Of these people God gives a warning, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).
Those who bear bad fruit face the prospect of God’s wrath. In contrast, our Lord blesses those who bear fruit in keeping with repentance, good fruit from good soil. He says in the very beginning of the book of Psalms,
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalms 1).
Our fruits should encourage and not dishearten. They should bear God’s light in all things with love. They should emulate the Creator with joy, fight for justice and peace, be patient in suffering, kind in times of tension and good when things go bad. They should bear faithfulness in trial, be gentle when conflicts rise, and show self-control in times of temptation. These are the fruits we have been called to bear as the chosen faithful. Jesus reminds us in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
That’s not to say that those who bear these fruits will never face hardship. The curse of sin has assured us that this is no longer true. But we don’t have to have this as our legacy and longer. Because of what Christ did on the cross, we now have hope. God tells us through Paul to the Ephesians, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).
As you look back on your life, what fruit do you see that you have produced? Is it the fruit of the Spirit of God or is it more the fruit that is produced by worldliness? Our lord asks us to bear good fruit “..for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33b). Choose now whom you will follow and what fruit will be found in you, fruit in keeping with repentance or fruit in keeping with the flesh. God waits for you to make the right choice. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, prepare us to bear good fruit in your kingdom that we might be examples of your grace and illustrations of Your love. Amen.