This will likely be the final installment of exhortations about the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). That said, it obviously won’t be the last time we’re concerned about spiritual fruit.
Because love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the Spirit’s fruit in and through us, what are we supposed to do? These nine attributes of fruit are supernatural products, but how does that relate to the Christian’s pursuit?
In the immediate context in Galatians 5 there are four different angles on our activity. Paul says Christian brothers are 1) to walk by the Spirit (verse 16), 2) to be led by the Spirit (verse 18), 3) to live by the Spirit (verse 25) and 4) to keep in step with the Spirit (verse 25).
They relate to the apostle’s exhortation to the Ephesians, an epistle he wrote around four years after Galatians, giving him editing time to boil it down: in contrast to wine-drinking, “be (being) filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). That is also in a context of walking carefully (Ephesians 5:15).
Again: walk by, be led by, live by, keep in step with, be filled by, the Spirit.
Walking is a regular metaphor for daily movements; think about each step. Being led is an easily understood illustration; look where the Spirit is going and go there too. Living by is a question of strength and standard, which leads to the keeping in step, tracking with a direction and a pace. Being filled is concerned with the controlling influence.
For good measure, a fifth verb comes in the next chapter; “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8).
You cannot cause the water in the river to flow, but that’s no excuse for laying down on the shore. Get in. Don’t grow weary of keeping in line with the Spirit.