Which version of Galatians 5:22 is correct:
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…
- But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…
Gather the grammar teachers. We have an agreement disagreement.
“The fruit [singular] of the Spirit is [singular] love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...”
So either a singular piece of fruit is many things in God’s eyes, or the Apostle Paul didn’t know how to formulate a sentence properly.
You cannot say, “I’ve really been working on the fruit of joy lately. But man, I am just not growing any patience right now.” That would be like an orange tree only growing a couple of the segments of the orange. It just doesn’t work that way…at least in a healthy tree…
The truth is, we as followers of Christ being sanctified daily often think of the “fruit of the Spirit” as individual pieces. But they are not. The fruit of the Spirit is a cluster of fruit growing simultaneously and in proportion to one another.
We have talked about abiding in the vine. We have talked about how those who are successfully grafted into the vine will bear fruit. A Spirit-filled believer will grow in love-joy-peace-patience-kindness-goodness-faithfulness-gentle-self-control. So why is it that some people show more love than others? Why is it that some people seem so much more patient or gentler than others?
When you see someone who stands out in one of the specific fruits of the Spirit, that is likely their personality coming out, not the necessarily Spirit. Yes, that personality is God-given. Yes, that is a beautiful trait. But is it Spirit fruit? Sometimes. Sometimes it is personality on top of Spirit fruit. But too often people will focus on building up their fleshly strengths under the guise of growing in the Spirit. They are naturally patient, so let’s serve out of that characteristic. The only problem is, when you focus on patience on its own, you are not seeking to grow your Spirit fruit, you are seeking to grow your fleshly personality. This will lead to burnout, pride, and other things that do not come from the Spirit.
The Fruit of the Spirit is not the fruit bowl at the hotel’s continental breakfast. You don’t get to pick your favorites and leave the others. If you are growing in the Spirit, you will be more loving. But you will also be more joyful, and peaceful, and self-controlled… You get the picture.
Let us seek to grow in the Spirit through the instruction of God’s Word. It contains all we need for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). A good tree bears good fruit. All its fruit.