The “fruit” of the Holy Spirit refers to the godly attributes of those who “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). The true manifestation of the Holy Spirit at work in a believer’s life is that the believer becomes increasingly more like Christ in character and actions. The fruit of the Spirit should characterize the life of every believer. Today we take a look at three fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22 — love, joy, and peace.
In both Hebrew (ahab) and Greek (agapē), words translated “love” are action words, indicating conscious acts on behalf of a beloved. However, biblical love seems to demand going beyond merely a particular behavior to include a certain inner attitude, that is, a positive inner response (1 John 3:17).
While several Greek words describe specific forms of love, the Greek word agapē most expresses Christlike, selfless love. Unselfish, loyal, benevolent concern for the well-being of another is called by Paul “the greatest” gift of all (1 Corinthians 13:13). Christian love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, a virtue of godly living (Galatians 5:22).
The attributes of love reflect both feelings and loving acts (1 Corinthians 13:4–8). True love is characterized as:
• Patient and slow to anger (verse 4)
• Kind and gentle to all (verse 4)
• Unselfish and giving (verse 5)
• Truthful and honest (verse 6)
• Hopeful and encouraging (verse 7)
• Enduring, without end (verse 7)
Biblical love is not envious, proud, self-centered, rude, or provoking (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5).
Without love, the gifts of the Spirit are deemed worthless, and the fruit of the Spirit incomplete (verse 8). Christian love is eternal. While all else fails, love never fails. It is a permanent, unconditional concern for others that results from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, rather than from human effort or desire.
A number of Hebrew and Greek words are used in the Bible to convey the concept of joy. In fact, the word “joy” is found more than 150 times in the Bible.
Joy comes from God as a result of faith and obedience (John 15:10,11; Romans 15:13). The abundance of joy is in direct proportion to the intimacy and steadfastness of a believer’s walk with the Lord. Sin in a believer’s life can rob her of joy (Psalm 51:8, 12). True joy is evident regardless of circumstances. The Spirit-filled believer continues to rejoice even amidst troubles (James 1:2,3). Biblical joy is clearly different from earthly, temporal pleasures that are bound to circumstances.
The purpose of joy is to provide blessing for the believer. Joy enables you to enjoy all that God has given — health, family, friends, opportunities, and salvation. As you experience true joy, your joy can then be shared with others (Romans 12:15). Abundant joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit for those who walk in faith.
In both the Old and New Testaments, peace is described as the result of having a right relationship with God and with others (see Romans 5:1,2). The Greek word eirene has a meaning similar to the Hebrew word shalom. Spiritual peace describes a sense of well- being and fulfillment that comes from God and is dependent on His presence alone (Galatians 5:22).
Inner spiritual peace is experienced by any believer who walks in the Spirit despite surrounding turmoil. The true “peace of God” protects the hearts and minds of believers from worry, fear, and anxiety. It transcends all logic or rationale (Philippians 4:7). The God of Peace who offers salvation also promises His presence and power in the lives of His children. His presence creates in us a quiet confidence, regardless of circumstances, people, or things.
Though impossible to comprehend fully, true peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and a part of the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11,13). According to the apostle Paul, our understanding and experiencing of the gospel produces peace that allows us to walk boldly into spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:11,13) and to survive all manner of difficulty and danger. The believer receives peace from God as a virtue of holy living and a protection from evil forces. Where the peace of God is present, there is no room for worry.
Reflecting the Character of God
The fruit of the Holy Spirit affects the believer’s relationship with God, others, and self. As Christians grow in their relationship with the Lord, they develop unselfish love, true joy, and lasting peace. While the fruit of the Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation, these godly virtues are evidence of salvation and the genuine work of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:17). Followers of Christ not only receive the blessings of God but also reflect His character to all whom they encounter.
Article drawn from study features in the NIV Woman’s Study Bible.