<<produce, outgrowth, result>>
This is a natural evidence, the outworking of the life within and the relationship with a life-giving source, over a period. The fruit or harvest is the expected result (over time) from a healthy plant, and reflects its nature as an increase of the seed sown. If a plant does not produce fruit there is something radically wrong (Mt 13:3-8). Vital connection must be maintained with the parent rootstock that provides the ongoing sustenance while there will be times of pruning, a cutting back to promote more growth and so increase productivity.
The fruit Jesus refers to includes a transformed life, and others becoming believers, along with good works done in love which are an expression of His life within (Prov 11:30; Mt 5:16; Mk 4:8; Jn 13:34; Eph 2:10; Tit 2:14).
Fruit is only found on a living tree or plant – John 15:5
Jesus said, “Without Him we can do nothing” – just as He also expressed His dependency on God – so to bear fruit we must live obediently to the Word of God (Jn 5:19,30, 8:28, 15:5). From this vital connection the people who intimately know their God shall have an increasing power and ability beyond their own selves (Dan 11:32; Act 4:13). “Blessed is the godly person, they are like a fruit yielding tree” (Ps 1:1,3). “Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will…never fail to bear fruit” (Jer 17:8). A bountiful harvest brings much glory to God, while there are harsh warnings for those who are ineffective and not producing fruit (Mt 21:19,43; Lk 13:6-9; Jn 15:2,8). How close is your walk with Jesus; is fruit being developed in your life?
It is God’s plan that we are “conformed to the image of His Son”, with “Christ being formed in us” as we are “filled with the fruit of righteousness” (Rom 8:29; Gal 4:19; Phil 1:11). What is my progress?
The evidence of repentance and resulting godly fruit, not foliage, is the sign of genuine salvation (Mt 3:8, 7:16-20).
Showy foliage is not fruit
can only produce bad fruit…By their fruit you will recognise them” for good habits and deeds are the true indicator of the inner person (Mt 7:16-20). If a person sows to please their sinful nature, they will reap destruction, but if they sow to please the Spirit they will reap eternal life (Gal 6:7,8). Focus your attention and efforts on producing good fruit (Rom 8:5-8; Phil 4:8). “We pray that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work...” (Col 1:10).
The fruit of righteousness begins with faith in Jesus Christ and leads to being shaped (disciplined) by Him, to remove dead wood completely or pruned to increase our fruitfulness (Jn 15:2; Phil 1:11; Heb 12:11). A seed must die to itself to be reproduced in much fruit – its only as we surrender ourselves for the Kingdom of God can our lives be truly effective (Jn 12:24-26, Rom 7:4). “We pray that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work...” (Col 1:10).
Can I ‘see’ fruit in my own life?
our lives (Rom 8:9; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal 5:22,23). These fruits of the Spirit are formed in us when we make wise choices, in the situations that present themselves. All are actions or reactions to life’s challenges and are developed and outworked in relationships. For example, we develop patience when a situation presents itself where we have to choose to either react and force the situation through impatience or yield to the Spirit and allow patience to develop. Producing this kind of fruit reveals the characteristics of Jesus to the world (as opposed to the undesirable fruit of wickedness evident in the lives of those in Satan’s Kingdom as mentioned in Gal 5:19-21). Christians are described as ‘vine branches’ of Christ, who displayed goodness, righteousness and truth (Jn 15:4,5; Rom 5:8,9). The Spirit produces character traits not specific actions bringing us into conformity to Christ (Rom 8:29). The unsaved can also display these desirable qualities in their lives to a degree as they are the result of human resolve and effort, yet as Christians our motive and outworking of these qualities should be on a higher level.
Each day we are confronted with numerous situations that test us, providing opportunities for these virtues to be developed in our lives. What is our attitude, will we act and react in a way that will damage this fruit or will we choose to yield to the Spirit and so allow the fruit to grow some more?
Love. This divine love is a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person's good. This kind of love is illustrated in the life of Jesus and it will be a distinguishing feature of His disciples (Jn 3:16, 13:34,35, 15:12,13; 1 Cor 13:4-8; 1 Jn 3:16). Genuine love (including affection and good will) is to be the motivating force in our lives. In fact, “The only thing that counts is love expressed by faith” (Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:6). The carnal opposite is lust (self-centered love) which can degenerate into hostility and hate.
Joy. This is not merely an emotion, but comes from the heart independent of and in spite of outward circumstances (Hab 3:17,18). It is a constant gladness of spirit within, an intimacy with Christ, knowing, amongst other things, the forgiveness of sins and that our eternal destiny is secure – it is not dictated to by external factors that result in variable responses of happiness or sadness. “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Neh 8:10; Rom 14:17; 1 Thes 1:6). The carnal person is prone to moods of doom and gloom when things don't go their way and they feel neglected.
Peace. This describes an inner state of quietness, rest, harmony, contentment and order even in the midst of turmoil. True peace only comes when reconciliation is attained between conflicting parties, not just the absence of strife – man-to-God, and man-to-man. The peace that Jesus gives should rule and guard our hearts (Jn 14:27; Phil 4:7; Col 3:15). The carnal opposite is fear, worry, conflict and confusion.
Patience. This is forbearance, tolerance, long-suffering, and perseverance in enduring troubles. It is the ability to put up with other people and situations graciously, even when sorely tried and nothing appears to be changing or things don’t go as expected. It resists the temptation to quit and take things in one’s own hands to force the situation, knowing that a believer must go through many tribulations (Act 14:22; 2 Cor 6:4; Eph 4:1,2; 1 Pet 3:20). Troubles and pressure are necessary to work out the benefits obtained by the death of Jesus Christ. The carnal solution is frustration – often resulting in unwise actions.
Kindness. The ability to be soft and even-tempered in character which reveals itself in living with integrity and consideration towards others through being outwardly focused , and doing to them as you would they do to you (Lk 6:31; 2 Tim 2:24-26; Tit 3:1,2; 1 Pet 3:8,9). Kindness is enlightened self-interest; sowing what we want to reap. I need the Lord’s mercy; therefore, I don’t deny others of mercy. The carnal person often has hardness towards others and is self-centered.
Goodness. This is a description of being benevolent, generous and godlike in character, upright of heart and life, choosing and following what is morally good (Ex 34:6; Ps 23:6; Eph 5:9; Tit 3:8). It is based on God’s standard. Anything ‘of us’ is inferior; we can but be vessels of His character. We may be the only ‘bible’ some non-Christians read. Those not displaying this fruit of the Spirit view things as ‘what is in it for me?’
Faithfulness. The characteristic of one who can be relied on, is trustworthy, dependable, loyal and committed (Deut 7:9; Ps 31:23; 1 Cor 1:9; 1 Tim 1:12). It infers depending on God in all circumstances, confident that everything is working for my good (Rom 8:28). The carnal approach is ‘if it is to my benefit and only as long as it suits me’.
Gentleness. The ability to be patient in suffering without succumbing to a spirit of revenge or retaliation. A meek and mild person is not easily provoked, not relying on self-confidence. A gentle person is not weak but has a strength of character that portrays humility of their spirit (Prov 15:1; Phil 4:5; 2 Tim 2:25). The challenge is to pursue gentleness, especially by those in places of authority (Col 3:12; 1 Tim 6:11). Those not having this fruit of the Spirit are harsh, often returning evil for evil.
Self-control. Unless a person masters or controls their desires and passions they are vulnerable and under the control of those desires (Prov 25:28; 2 Pet 2:19). “Do not let sin reign in your body so that you obey its evil desires” (Rom 6:12, 13:14; 1 Cor 6:12). Self-control doesn’t operate without our involvement and affects every area of our life. It is not mastered by anything other than God. Without self-control a carnal person obeys the evil desires of the flesh. Don't live for evil human desires but for the will of God (1 Pet 2:11, 4:2).
Spiritual fruit are developed over time and should not to be confused with spiritual gifts, which are given.
See also: any of the above nine gifts, barren, connection, first fruit, growth, harvest, pruning, result, sow and reap, spiritual gifts.