What is a Fruit of the Spirit?

I’ve written a couple of posts in my Love Is: series so far but I think I need to set some some foundations before continuing with the specific characteristics of love. In my next post I’ll be focusing on kindness, but first let’s zoom out a bit. To understand love we need to understand the source of it.

Kindness is an attribute of love. Love is a fruit of the Spirit.

So what is a fruit of the Spirit?

The pure, true love of the Bible comes from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit starts to work in your life by changing you from the inside out. Sometimes slowly.

The process of farming is often used in the Bible as a word picture to describe spiritual concepts. I’m a farmers daughter who spent my summers working and playing in my dad’s vineyards. The smells, sounds and processes of grape growing are what my childhood was made of. My favorite analogies in the Bible are those that speak of vines, branches, and fruits of labor.

The grape plant starts as a little wisp of a trunk which the farmer tenderly ties to the support wire to give the fragile growth some foundation. This little trunk won’t produce fruit right away, if it tried it would kill it. It needs to become rooted in the soil and strengthened at it’s core before it can ever think about becoming fruitful.

After two years of care the vine is mature enough to produce fruit but the farmer (that’s me;) knows that the plant is still to young to handle much fruit to she cuts back some of the fruit-bearing branches to control how much fruit the plant produces. In the summer the plant grows taller and in the winter the cold winds blowing up from the lake strengthen and toughen it into maturity. After two years of this the plant if ready to produces to it’s greatest potential.

Trimming and pruning will be neccisary for the rest of the plant’s life to control how it grows and the quality of fruit it will produce. The plant works hard to grow up to 10 vines but you must cut them off until only 4 remain for the vine to bear good fruit. If the farmer is neglectful for just one year the vine will grow out of control and produce sub par fruit (like this) but a well kept vineyard with produce quality fruit for years to come (like this).

This analogy might not be perfect but it does help us understand how the Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian to grow spiritual fruit. Just like a vine, you might not produce fruit right away. There is a lot of maturing, growth, and painful pruning your life needs to go through before you’ll see the harvest. Like a vine, the pruning part is painful and often doesn’t make sense. If you don’t understand how it works it would almost seem like you’re harming the plant by removing so much, but by leaving only a few vines all of the plants energy will go into growing the fruit on those vines resulting in plump, healthy grape clusters.

Just like a vine you will not produce good fruit without the farmer’s help. The Holy Spirit is the farmer of your life and you need his pruning, cutting, wisdom and guidance in your life to produce fruit. To love like 1 Corinthians 13 you need the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, the farmer of your life.

In Galatians 5 Paul writes a comparison of the work produced by our flesh to the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit.

The works of the flesh are “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (5:19-21)

The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23)

Your life, like a vineyard, will produce fruit. Growing like the wild grapes or allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you will determine what kind.

References: here and here.

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I’m no theologian so if you read this far I’m proud + I’m no theologian so please study this for yourself. I try my best to be accurate but I’m still learning.
Up next: kindness. Stay tuned.

“Love Is:” is a series about the biblical definition of love based on 1 Corinthians 13. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Love is Patient

The  verb “love” in the English language is defined according to Webster as follows:

: to feel great affection for (someone)
: to feel love for (someone)
: to feel sexual or romantic love for (someone)
: to like or desire (something) very much
: to take great pleasure in (something)

Every one of those definitions has to do with how the ‘lover’ feels. 1 Corinthians 13 on the other hand would be very hard to live out based on feelings. The dictionary definition is focused on how ‘love’ makes you feel but the 1C13 definition is all about how you treat others. The one is selfish, the other selfless. 1C13 is regulations on how to react to and interact with others. Living out biblical love based on feelings would fizzle out before too long. Try going one whole day living in biblical love motivated by feelings alone.

I never said that this love thing was going to be glamorous.

Patience or long suffering is the first description of what love is in 1C13 and is also a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I think patience has two definitions. The first is what I originally thought of when I thought of patience. That is to put up with someone’s flaws, inadequacies, and annoying habits. It is to give people grace when they don’t meet up to your expectations. It takes a special kind of self-control to not try and interfere with someone when they are not maturing as fast as you expect or haven’t reached your level maturity yet.

The second definition of patience is much harder. I didn’t understand this second part of “long-suffering” until a read a few commentaries on the subject. Long-suffering is not just putting up with the inadequacies of other but also putting up with the outright attacks of other. Turning the other cheek. One commentary described it as refusing to take vengeance for hurt even when it is in your power to do so. When offended it is natural to want to lash back at the attacker, to protect yourself and prove your point. The idea of patience is so radically different. You would almost see it as a kind of weakness, to not stand up for yourself, but it is actually a quiet kind of strength. It takes a special kind of character to decide to give up your right to revenge, to respond with grace instead of anger in the heat of the moment. And maybe not just “in the moment”. The long in long-suffering means just that, to do it for a long time.

It’s much more satisfying to lose your patience but trust me, if you are a person who suffers long people will see that quiet strength in you and you will be respected. Maybe most respected by your enemies.

Character is rarely a showy thing.

“Love Is:” is a series about the biblical definition of the love based on 1 Corinthians 13. You can find all the posts in the series here.


What is Love?

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Love is one of the most overused, cliched words in the English language. There are different kinds of love yet we try stretch out a single one syllable word to cover all the meanings. I love dogs. I love God. I love Autumn. I love myself. I love the poor. I love my lover. You can make love, be in love, fall out of love. This short word has to stretch pretty thin to cover it all.

Did you ever say a word over and over again so many times that it loses it’s meaning to you? That is happening to love. I’ve written the word so many times in the last two paragraphs I’m wondering if I even spelled it right.

love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love

Are you annoyed yet?

I’m not trying to change our unpoetic language. But I do want to begin to really understand what love is at a deeper level than the Merriam Webster definition. If it is one of the most important concept in Christianity then to grasp what is required of us to live out the Christian life we must understand what love truly is.

Whenever a word is thrown around a lot in personal and national conversations (especially when it’s controversial) I always find it helpful to review my definition of the word. Misunderstanding starts when people use the same words but different dictionaries.

I’m going to do some essays (blog posts) digging into 1 Corinthians 13. My goal: to find the definition of love in God’s dictionary. Bear with me, I’m just learning then writing my thoughts. If I’m wrong correct me. Criticism is a good thing, when done in love.*

*See what I did there?