Galatians 5:22-23 lists the character qualities that should fill the hearts and lives of every believer in Jesus Christ. The qualities are known as the Fruit of the Spirit. Let's look at each one and ask, "Is my life producing spiritual fruit?"
Love: We all want to love and be loved. But what is love according to the Bible? The word used for love in Galatians 5:22 is agape, meaning to cherish and esteem. This type of love is selfless and results from God's work in and through our lives. He loves us, and we can love others. Do you cherish and honor the people in your life even when you don't like their actions and attitudes?
Joy: Is joy simply happiness, or is it something much deeper? The word for joy is chara, meaning to rejoice, conveying the idea of gladness. Joy results from a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ and can never be created apart from God. Is your joy dependent on your situations and circumstances working out, or can you rejoice at all times?
Peace: Do you know that God is in control? As a result, do you have a deep sense of peace in your life? This peace occurs as you trust God with every detail--- the big and the small. Peace in the Bible means tranquility, repose, calm, or harmony. This peace is associated with God's promises grounded in His mercy and grace. "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Do you have God's peace?
Patience: All of us cringe when we read this one! Hang on, it's worth it. We demonstrate patience when we are long-suffering. Let me step on our toes just a little more. Patience in the Bible carries the idea of endurance. Endurance flows from a place of strength in the Lord. A strength that waits on God's timing and lives according to God's way. Are you a patient person? Do you give others a second chance even when you think they don't deserve it?
Kindness: This one surprised me the most. The word used carries the idea of mellowing what could have been harsh. It's the opposite of cutting something or someone short. This quality speaks directly to the opportunity to be helpful to others. This can only happen as we experience and extend grace. Do you take the feelings of others into consideration? Or, is life all about you?
Goodness: God is good, and He is the ultimate standard of good in life. We demonstrate goodness when we align our values with Him. Do you desire to do the right thing for the people in your life? Is goodness to others your goal?
Faithfulness: Pistis is the Greek word used for faithfulness and conveys being trustworthy, loyal, and sincere. "The faithful person is steadfast, unchanging, and thoroughly grounded concerning the other." God is our perfect model of faithfulness. Are you a faithful person? Do you stand by and stand up for the people in your life?
Gentleness: Meekness is displayed in our souls. It does not mean never getting angry. Rather it means getting angry at the right time and in the right way. Do you relate to people in your life in a way that leads towards redemption? By this, do you look for opportunities to build people up instead of tearing people down?
Self Control: This means being able to guard your life against fleshly temptations. This is the ability to be in the world but not of the world. Can you hold your tongue when you really want to speak your mind? Do you tend to snap when you need to take a deep breath and pray?
I can say that this list is overwhelming. Thankfully, we don't have to tackle this list on our own. In fact, we can't! This list is only accomplished as the Holy Spirit leads, guides, and empowers our lives. Daily we have the opportunity to surrender to God, inviting Him to control our lives, directing our thoughts, actions, and reactions. When God is in control, our lives will be filled with a sense of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This will be true because we will be filled with Him, resulting in our lives taking on His character, not our own.
So, I have one final question to ask. Which fruit of the Spirit do you need to ask God to produce in and through you? Identify one or two and then look for opportunities to demonstrate that fruit. Remember, God will give you the strength as you live a life of faith.