We continue with a short series of exhortations around the theme of the fruit of the Spirit. It started with Paul’s contrast between the Spirit and the flesh. These are the two want-producing sources, and they are opposed to each other in Christians (unbelievers don’t have the Spirit so they don’t have the conflict described in Galatians 5:17).
Another point of contrast is between “works” and “fruit”; works are what the flesh does and fruit is what the Spirit produces. The terminology is interesting, but so is the number. Works are plural, fruit is not.
Perhaps we could riff off the “great shema” in Deuteronomy 6:4, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” We could call this the “great pneuma” (since pneuma transliterates the Greek word for Spirit): “the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit is one.”
There are nine attributes of the fruit, but life in the Spirit is unified. This is different from the gifts of the Spirit. A spiritual gift may have a unique mix, or be one not the other; think Peter’s distinction between serving gifts and speaking gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Spiritual fruit, though, doesn’t come separately.
The Spirit doesn’t produce love without self-control, there isn’t joy without goodness, there isn’t peace without faithfulness. Patience is not a spur of the moment fruit, separate from the rest. Kindness and gentleness may often apply together, but never in a way that indulges the flesh.
Spiritual fruit is integrated and thorough, just as godliness.
“Godliness is an extensive thing. It is a sacred leaven that spreads itself into the whole soul.”Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture, 13
Don’t excuse a lack of joy because you’re patient about it. Don’t say you have peace about your lack of self-control. Don’t say that your gift is goodness, but you couldn’t possibly be expected to love.