The Fruit of a Coming New and Better World (Galatians 5:22-23)
[But] the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, ²³gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. —Galatians 5:22-23
John Calvin summarized the Christian life as a transformation of identity, or better said, an exchange of possession. “We are not our own, but the Lord’s,” he wrote. And thus, the first and perpetual step of discipleship is “to abandon ourselves and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God.” This devotion of service he speaks about is a yielding of our totality to God, including our reason. Contrary to what the world thinks, Calvin explains, “The Christian philosophy bids reason give place and yield complete submission to the Holy Spirit, so that the man himself no longer lives, but Christ lives and reigns in him" (Gal. 2:20).
We are not our own, we are the Lord’s, therefore we live yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the giver of life (Romans 8:11) and the witness of life (Romans 8:16). He gives us our new identity and guarantees it (Ephesians 1:13–14). When Paul tells us to “walk by the Spirit” in Galatians 5:16, this is what he is saying. Our lives are now ordered by another.
So often I think we read about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and immediately jump to searching for the fruit. Then this easily can become a passage about our doing because of the Spirit when in reality it is about the Spirit’s doing in and through us. It is about His fruit, His work. It is manifested in our character, to be sure, but it is never ours to claim.
May your love abound, your joy and your peace, and patience, and kindness, and goodness, and all fruit. Make these all abound and more (Paul hasn’t given us an exhaustive list). And know that the presence of this fruit points to a reality bigger than the universe. God, the Creator of all things, made you his own by the death of his Son and has filled you with his Holy Spirit to produce a lifestyle characteristic of a coming new and better world.
1. What challenge do you face most often where you need the Spirit’s fruit?
2. Do you find comfort in knowing you are not your own?
3. Are you yielding the totality of your life to the Holy Spirit?