Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should  go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit may remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.                                        

These things I command you, that ye love one another.

- John 15:16-17    


The New Testament speaks of spiritual fruit in the singular .The nine forms of spiritual fruit are listed in Gal 5:22-23.”Love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”               

On the other hand the nine spiritual gifts listed in 1Cor 12:8-10 are in the plural. The difference between the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit can be understood by comparing a Christmas tree to an apple tree.

A Christmas tree carries gifts .Each gift is attached to it by a single act and received from it by a single act .No effort or time is required of the person receiving the gift.

For an apple tree to grow, a lot of hard work and time is required .For it to grow and produce fruit it must go through a series of stages that takes several years. First the apple seed needs to be planted in good soil, and then the shoot grows into a tree. In time buds blossom and then the fruit develop .Usually during the first years the young fruit are plucked off so that the trees’ root system will develop to support a strong tree. Several years pass before the apples are fit to be eaten. At various stages in its growth an apple tree is very delicate .Strong winds may uproot it or frost may destroy either the blossoms or the fruit .In this growth process, seeds and fruit are inseparably linked to each other.

Fruit must grow from a seed, but on the other hand it takes fruit to produce further seeds

God ordained that every fruit tree should yield fruit according to its own kind, whose seed is in it.(Gen 1:12) This establishes an important spiritual principal. Christians who do not produce spiritual fruit in their own lives have no seed to sow into the lives of others. In Gal 5:22-23 Love the primary form of fruit is listed first. The others that follow may be understood as different ways in which the fruit of love is manifested.

Joy is love rejoicing

Peace is love resting

Long-suffering is love forbearing,

Kindness is love serving others

Goodness is love seeking the best for others,

Faithfulness is love keeping its promises

Gentleness is love ministering to the hurts of others,

Self-control is love in control.


We can describe the fruit of the spirit as different ways in which the character of Jesus manifests itself through those who produce this fruit. When all the forms of fruit are fully developed, it is as if Jesus by the Holy Spirit is incarnated in the believer.  In 2 Peter 1:5-7 the apostle lists seven successive stages in the development of a fully formed Christian character. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love.”

Peter warns us that to go through this process successfully will demand diligence. There can be no real success in developing Christian character without diligence or hard work. This process could be compared to that by which an apple seed develops into a mature apple. The seed is God’s Word implanted in the heart.  This produces faith, which is the starting point. Out of faith follow seven successive stages of development.         

1. Virtue or Moral excellence –Moral excellence covers every possible area of life. A Christian businessman should excel in his field of business. There is no room for sloppiness or laziness in any area of the Christian life. (Luke 16:10) He who is unfaithful in the least (the secular) will be unfaithful also in the greatest.” (the spiritual)

2. Knowledge- There are many different forms of knowledge. Biblical knowledge is primarily practical .It is the knowledge that works. The teachings of Jesus himself are practical and never complicated. His teachings are based on familiar practical activities like sowing seed, catching fish, caring for sheep. The most essential form of knowledge in the Christian life is the knowledge of God’s Word revealed in the Scripture. This too is practical. It demands a regular, systematic study of the whole Bible.(2Tim 3:16-17)” All scripture is given by inspiration of God ,and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ,that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” People who never read through the entire Bible set limits of their own making to their spiritual development.                                                                       3. Self-control or Self-discipline.(2Tim 1:7) For God hath not given us a spirit of fear ,but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ Self-discipline should be applied to every major area of our personality, in our emotions, our attitudes, our appetites and our thought life. It must govern not only our actions but more importantly our reactions. Until we have developed this kind of discipline, we cannot move up to the next stage.

4. Perseverance (endurance) is the ability to overcome the various tests and trials that will inevitably expose any weak undisciplined area of our personality. We need to stand strong like the apple tree though the blossoms are blown away by the winds of adversity and the young fruit is killed by the frost of rejection. In the three remaining stages of development, the beauty of a truly Christian character unfolds.

5. Godliness: is the mark of a person whose life is centered in God, a person who has become a vessel of the presence of God. Wherever such a person goes, the atmosphere is permeated by a unique fragrance. There may not be any preaching or other religious activity, yet people become strangely aware of eternal issues.

The last 2 stages of development depict two different kinds of love. The first – brotherly kindness describes the way that believers in Jesus Christ should relate to their fellow believers (their  brothers and sisters in the Lord)

The fact that a person has repented of his sins and claimed salvation in Christ does not mean that his whole character has been instantly transformed. A very important process has been set in motion, but it may take many years for that change to be worked out in every area of a person’s character. When David needed smooth stones for his sling to slay Goliath, he went down to the valley, the lowly place of humility. There in the brook he found the kind of stones he needed. What had made them smooth? Two pressures the water flowing over them and their continual jostling against one another. This is a picture of how Christian character is formed. First there is the continual “washing of water by the Word”(Eph 5:26) and second as the stones jostle against one another, so in our personal  relationships the rough edges are gradually worn down until they become “smooth”.

Jesus needs ‘living stones’ for His sling. He too goes to the valley, the place of humility. There He chooses stones that have been made ‘smooth’ by the action of God’s  Word and by  the pressures of regular fellowship with other believers. It is a mark of spiritual maturity to sincerely love our fellow Christians, not simply for what they are in themselves, but for what they mean to Jesus who shed His blood for each of them.

The final stage of development “agape love” represents the full ripe fruit of Christian character. This is no longer how we relate only to our fellow believers. It is God’s own love for the unthankful and the unholy.  It is the love that causes us to bless those who curse (us), do good to those who hate (us) and pray for those who despitefully use (us) and persecute (us) (Matt 5:44)

It is the love that Jesus Christ demonstrated on the cross when He prayed for those who crucified Him. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do”.(Luke 2:34). It is the same love that caused Stephen to pray, for those who were stoning him “Lord lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). It is this love that changed Saul the  persecutor into Paul the servant of Christ (I Cor 9:22)

We are both humbled and inspired  when we contemplate the Bible’s picture of the  fully developed fruit of the  Holy Spirit because we still have so  far to go. We are inspired because we have caught a glimpse of something more beautiful than anything this world has to offer. We echo the words of Paul to the Philippians.”I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Phil 3:13,14)



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