Fruit of the Spirit

By Albert Kang
The Double Emphasis

In the past, the Pentecostal movement and the Charismatic movement had emphasized heavily on teachings about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This emphasis was good at that time because many churches had either rejected or neglected the manifestation of such spiritual gifts. However, just like a pendulum of an old clock, these movements had swung too much, so much so that there were limited instructions about the fruit of the Spirit. If it was taught, it was placed only in secondary to the topic of the spiritual gifts. The most appropriate way to teach the church is to make a double emphasis - one cannot do without the other. It is almost like making a double emphasis to impress upon a young child the importance of both the father and mother in his life. He should not reject or neglect one in preference for the other.

For The Father's Glory

The Bible makes it clear that it is to God the Father's glory that we bear much fruit, showing that we are the Disciples of Christ (John 15:8). The Father's glory here is not referring to the glow around the throne of God. This glory refers to how we conduct our lives that should ultimately make obvious who God really is. For us to glorify God means that our every behavior and action should reveal the presence of God tangibly enough to those who have no ability to encounter God on their own. As non-believers are unable to directly sense the Shekinah glory of His presence, they will be dependent upon us to demonstrate that through our godly behavior and actions.

By Their Fruits

Jesus said that Christians should be evaluated by their fruits but he never said by their gifts (Matthew 7:16). When I was pastoring in Pennsylvania, I was invited to visit a farm. The farmer never brought me to the tool shed to show me his tools but to the field to show his crops. In the same manner, we should acknowledge that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are but tools and therefore should not be used to evaluate one's spiritual growth and success. When we use the tools to bring forth the fruits then the Lord will be pleased. He will evaluate or effectiveness and productivity by our fruits. The number of tools will not impress Him because after all He is the one who gave us those in the first place.
Right fruit
Bearing fruits alone is not enough because we must bear the right kind of fruits. We may try to trick God by tying apples onto our pear tree. However that will not work. A pear tree cannot bear apples. Jesus said, "Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (Matthew 7:16-20, NIV).

Growing The Fruits

The Bible always refers to our human behavior and attitudes as fruits. This means that we are responsible for bearing the fruits of the Spirit because God has given us the Holy Spirit. Bearing fruits is hard work while receiving gifts is easy. The process of bearing fruits is not so much in the doing but in the being. We can do with being but we cannot be without doing. Jesus emphasized on the process of becoming. That is why we are to be witnesses and not just do witnessing. We are to be Disciples and not just going through the motion of being discipled. Jesus is not happy with just the outward form but the real substance.

In Matthew 21:18 - 19, we learn that one early morning, Jesus while on his way back to the city, became hungry. He saw a fig tree in full splendor and thinking that it would have some fruits. However after He went to check, He found nothing on it except leaves. He was not happy - even a fruit tree that had only form and no substance would irritate Jesus. He spoke to the tree, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. This incident was recorded so that for generations, we may all learn a spiritual lesson from it. No matter how self-important we are, if we do not bear the fruits that are required by the Lord, we will all suffer the same fate as the fruitless fig tree.

The process of becoming a fruitful Disciple lies within our nature. Like we have said, a pear tree will bear pears and not apples, therefore a godly nature will bear godly fruits and not ungodly ones. What if we see ungodly fruits? Well, that means that we have not been grafted into the Vine (John 15, Romans 11). We have not been abiding with the Lord regularly enough so as to allow His godliness to flow through us. We have operated too much in our own wisdom and flesh and only the fruits of the flesh are coming out.

One Singular Fruit Of The Spirit

In Galatians 5:22-23, we read the classic passage on the Fruit of the Spirit. Please take note that in this passage, Paul used a singular tense for word "fruit". This means the Fruit of the Spirit is a singular item. We are often mistaken by thinking that there are nine parts to this fruit. The fact is that there are only eight parts. Love is not a part! The whole fruit is known as "Love" or in the Greek, "Agape". Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the eight parts that form the manifestation of this singular "Agape" fruit. I have used an orange in my teaching to illustrate this fact. An orange has many slices inside. These slices are distinguishable. This means that one slice should be mistaken for another slice. Faithfulness should not be confused with patience; peace should not be mistaken to be self-control etc. If we take away the slices, the orange skin alone does not constitute the whole orange. Therefore, recognizing that, we must remember that it is all the slices combined together to make a whole orange. It is all the eight parts that combine together to make the Fruit of the Spirit known as "Agape".

Let me reiterate: Agape love represents the whole Fruit of the Spirit. What Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 also substantiates this fact: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4 -7).

If we allowed our hearts to be filled with the love of God, then all the other eight parts of the Fruit of the Spirit will be manifested. Let me conclude this article by sharing these pointers.

Love as the Fruit of the Spirit is manifested in: 
- Joy 
- Joy is the gratefulness of Love 
- Peace 
- Peace is the confidence of Love 
- Patience 
- Patience is the fortitude of Love 
- Kindness 
- Kindness is the expression of Love 
- Goodness 
- Goodness is the demonstration of Love 
- Faithfulness 
- Faithfulness is the reliance of Love 
- Gentleness 
- Gentleness is the modesty of Love 
- Self-control 
- Self-control is the stamina of Love

May you grow in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and bear the Fruit of the Spirit. God bless.

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