fruit of the spirit

Understanding the 9 Fruits of the Spirit

How important are the 9 Fruits of the Spirit? Consider two types of teams…

For the winning team, it’s easy for all the players to gel. Mistakes are met with, “It’s okay. You’ll get it next time.” You celebrate each other’s accomplishments even if you’re having an off day. And you’ll do anything—sacrificing your own ambition and comfort—for the sake of the team. 

But when a team is losing, the opposite is true. Teammates fly in fits of rage when someone messes up. They’re envious of their teammates’ success. They only care about their own selfish ambitions, form factions, and have open hatred for each other. 

Of course, it’s the old chicken-and-the-egg problem. The winning team’s good habits lead to more wins, and the losing team’s destructive behaviors lead to more losses. 

That’s why the first job of any new head coach is to “change the culture.” They know that implementing an explosive offense or stalwart defense is impossible without teamwork

My friend and Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said, “The No. 1 thing a new coach has to do…set the identity of the team. That is so much more important than the X’s and O’s.”

In the NFL, sometimes coaches are afforded a year or two to set the culture, while the fans (and the owner) weather losses in hopes that he’s setting up a foundation for success. 

That’s exactly what an early Christian apostle was doing for the church in Galatia when he outlined each fruit of the spirit.


Who talks about the 9 Fruits of the Spirit?

In the Book of Galatians, Chapter 5, the apostle Paul asks the church in Galatia not to live by the old law as outlined in the Old Testament. To continue the team metaphor, he’s telling them not to follow the team rulebook and think that it’s going to change the culture. 

Paul tells them they’re free from following the law, but not to waste this freedom on the flesh (our selfish, pleasure-seeking desires).


What does Paul call the behaviors of the flesh?

Paul says that the behaviors of the flesh are “sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.”

Notice something? Most of the list are hallmarks of a bad team—of which there’s no room for them on God’s team. As Paul says, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”


Why follow the 9 fruits of the spirit?

Paul wants the church of Galatia to use their freedom, granted by Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, to deny their flesh and choose the 9 fruits of the spirit.


What are the 9 fruits of the spirit?

  1. Love: unconditional, selfless care for others.

  2. Joy: a deep, God-given sense of contentment that transcends circumstances.

  3. Peace: Tranquility, harmony, and a composed attitude in the face of conflict. 

  4. Patience: The ability to endure difficult circumstances and deal with others in a long-tempered manner.

  5. Kindness: Being considerate, gentle, and generous with others.

  6. Goodness: Having integrity and character, and that are morally upright and beneficial.

  7. Faithfulness: Being trustworthy, true to your word, and steadfast in your beliefs.

  8. Gentleness: Acting with humility and treating others with tenderness and respect.

  9. Self-control: Exercising restraint and discipline over your desires, words, and actions.


Produce the fruits of the spirit in your life.

Paul tells us that the presence and work of the Holy Spirit give you the ability to live out each fruit of the spirit and reflect the character of Christ.

What kind of team do you want to be on? Of course, everyone would choose the winning team with the winning characteristics (fruit of the spirit) every time. But all too often, our actions show that we’ve chosen the losing team. 

How can you exemplify the fruit of the spirit and make your family, your friends, or your work better? 


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