By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.Galatians 5:22–26
It never ceases to amaze me how the Christian community has endured in spite of the differences in biblical interpretations and analyses. In some cases, the only thing Christians have in common with each other is Christ. The rituals and dogmas among Christians are extraordinarily different. There are poisonous snake handlers, horse and buggy riders, and Voodoo Christians. There are those who believe that dancing will doom you to hell and those who dance during their services. Some fill their church with music, while others like the churches of Christ forbid any musical instruments in their church. My list could go on and on and on!
Galatians 5:22-26 binds our “fractured” Christian Community into “one” through the nine manifestations (fruits) of the spirit. That includes mainstream Christians as well as the snake handling Christians. Even those Christians who have never heard of the “fruits of the spirit” have felt the spirit in their heart and soul and most certainly witnessed them in Jesus Christ.
These manifestations are available to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, just for the taking:
LOVE: Without love, humanity would not exist. There could be no human interaction. You would have no feelings for friends, family, or those you hold close to you. Love is so much more than a romantic relationship. Love resonates throughout our life. Love is what makes us human.
JOY: Don’t mistake happiness for joy. They are not the same. There is a vast difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is based on short-term events or “things” — a new car, a kiss, an awesome gift. Joy comes from God and is born from within. Happiness is the Easter Bunny. Joy is the risen Christ.
PEACE: This is not the peace that comes at the end of a battle. It is the peace of the Lord. This is a peace that comes from within, and is always with you. It is enduring peace of mind, contentment, and serenity.
FORBEARANCE: Forbearance means to tolerate even when you get less than you think you deserve; to be patient, and deal with difficult circumstances with gentleness and calmness.
KINDNESS: Kindness is a smile rather than a frown, a word of encouragement and comfort, or a warm, sincere, much-needed hug. I know it is a billboard cliché, but kindness truly can come from asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?”
GOODNESS: Generosity is being mindful of those who have less than you — doing good things from the goodness of your heart, not for the tax break or the glory. Goodness is fed from the inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, and attitude.
FAITHFULNESS: Faith is knowing that God always does what is best for you, not necessarily what you ask for. Don’t lose faith when doubts creep into your heart. Doubt is a powerful component of faith.
GENTLENESS: Do not confuse gentleness with weakness. Gentleness requires great strength. Gentleness enables a person to patiently endure insults and injuries received at the hand of others. It allows us to keep cool when others explode. Gentle people do not seek revenge; they leave that in God’s hands.
SELF-CONTROL: We all know what our self-control failures are: material possessions, promiscuity, anger, alcohol, drugs, etc. Our “head” knows when our human desires are not right for us — and, as a result, there is a tug of war between our head and our desires. And sometimes it is a major tug of war. We must always be vigilant to keep our self-control.
The creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, once said, “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”