Wednesday: The Fruit of the Spirit

(Gal. 5:22-24)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23, ESV). In what ways does obedience to the Ten Commandments reflect the fruit of the Spirit as it is expressed in these verses? (See also Matt. 5:21-22Matt. 5:27-28Matt. 22:35-40.)

Fruits of the Spirit

Image © Graham Braddock

The Ten Commandments are not an alternative to love; they help guide us in how we are to show love, both to God and to humankind. However much it might transcend the letter of the law, love is not in conflict with the law. The idea that love for God and love for our neighbor void the Ten Commandments makes about as much sense as saying that love for nature voids the law of gravity.

Also, in contrast to the fifteen one-word descriptions of the works of the flesh, the fruit of the Spirit is described in nine elegant virtues. Scholars believe these nine virtues are organized into three clusters of three, but there is little agreement on the significance of their order. Some see an implicit reference to the Trinity in the number three; others believe the three triads reflect the ways in which we should relate to God, to our neighbor, and finally to ourselves; and others see the list as essentially a description of Jesus. Though each of these views has some merit, the most significant point not to be overlooked is the supreme importance Paul places on love in the Christian life.

The fact that Paul lists love as the first of the nine virtues is not accidental. He has already highlighted the central role of love in the Christian life in Galatians 5:6 and Gal. 5:13, and he includes it in his virtue lists elsewhere (2 Cor. 6:61 Tim. 4:121 Tim. 6:11, and 2 Tim. 2:22). Whereas all the other virtues appear also in non-Christian sources, love is distinctly Christian. All this indicates that love should be seen not merely as one virtue among many but as the cardinal Christian virtue that is the key to all other virtues. Love is the preeminent fruit of the Spirit (1 Cor. 13:13Rom. 5:5), and it should define the life and attitudes of every Christian (John 13:34-35), however difficult at times it might be to show love.

How much self-denial is involved in love? Can you love without self-denial? What does Jesus teach us about love and self-denial?


Wednesday: The Fruit of the Spirit — 6 Comments

  1. If everything we do, think or say, passed through the ultimate love test – “does it reflect my love to God and others?” If the answer tends to be yes, then the less it would lead to selfishness and more to selflessness. I commented on Tuesday’s lesson about ‘love covering a multitude of sins’& 'how love begats love'– Christ’s love offers forgiveness to cover all our sins [demands of the flesh]. His gift of love which is the Holy Spirit will guide us live a Christ like life to love God & to love others as He does. Bearing the fruits of the Spirit. As freely as we have received His love, freely let’s give back to Him and others.

  2. The lesson states

    "The Ten Commandments are not an alternative to love" well that's because The Ten commandments are the principle of Love, specifically God's love.

    What about

    “The idea that love for God and love for our neighbor void the Ten Commandments makes about as much sense as saying that love for nature voids the law of gravity.”

    What is the problem with their assertion? They are comparing a codified written description of a design law with an actual design law. This occurs because they fail to understand the difference between design law and imposed law, and fail to understand the purpose of the 10 Commandments.

    The lesson is correct that love does not void the 10 Commandments, but what does the law of love do in regard to the commandments?

    It puts the commandments in their proper place, which is what? A diagnostic instrument and protective hedge that was added because of our need. The law was not given as a remedy to sin, or a list of behaviors to which we are to conform. The 10 Commandments are not the law upon which life is built, but a codified description of that law specifically written for fallen human beings.

    • Very perceptive. Thank you.

      Since English is the second language for many of our readers, I shall attempt an explanation. Please feel free to supplement or correct where necessary.

      An "imposed law" is a law decreed by a superior authority. It may be an arbitrary law that has nothing to do with the actual life needs of the population.

      A "design law" would be the principles according to which something is built. For instance, the law of gravity is a design law. Things don't fall to earth because God said so but because the earth has mass which generates a specific attractional force and affects many aspects of our planet that make it habitable, such as earth's atmosphere and its placement in our galaxy.

      In the same way, God's law of love is the principle upon which all of His creation is built. Wherever that law is violated, there are natural negative consequences with the ultimate consequence being self-destruction. God's Law of Love is a reflection of His character and can no more be changed or done away with than can God Himself.

      And now I'm wishing I had included that concept explicitly in my post on "God’s Law: The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many." As it is, I believe my post reflects the relationship of God's "codified written description(s)" of His Law to God's Law of Self-renouncing Love, which is a reflection of His character.

  3. If God Himself is all love, and if we walk with Him, we should definitely be developing such a gift. Christ is God's best presentation of this love! With love, everything else makes sense! Practical love may be more of Christ and less of me.

  4. I noticed in 1 Corinthians 13 which some call "The Love Chapter," that there are about 16 attributes to "Love." Eight of them are things that LOVE does not do. and of the other eight "four," of them are attributes of the "Fruit of the Spirit," being: Joy, Faith, Patience, and Kindness. So of the "Nine," of the list of virtues of The Fruit of The Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23 Love Encompasses Four of them there. And as I said before that there are MORE than NINE because I believe that "Loyalty, Honesty, Integrity, Purity and Dependability," are also fruit or "attributes," of The Spirit and are not in the list of the Nine in Galatians 5

  5. As Christians, we have to have LOVE in us to able to Love others, because GOD IS LOVE, and that is GOD'S Character.
    In Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the Fruits of the Spirit.
    We must have the Fruits of the Spirit in us to be able to walk in the Spirit. By having a continuous daily relationships with GOD, then we will understand his character which is the Fruits of the Spirits. And because he is the Alpha and the Omega.


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