The "harvest of the Spirit"
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (vv.22-23)
We begin today a detailed study of the fruit of the Spirit -- the nine ingredients which go to make up Christian character. These nine qualities are the natural outcome of the Holy Spirit's indwelling -- not a manufactured one. When Paul speaks of the manifestations of the flesh, he describes them as "works," but when speaking of the manifestations of the Spirit, he describes them as "fruit." "Works" suggests something that is an effort: "fruit" suggests something that is effortless. Some translations use the term "harvest of the Spirit" rather than "fruit of the Spirit," pointing to the finished product, the outcome. Most people, myself included, prefer the word "fruit" to "harvest," but there is a special truth locked up in the word "harvest" that we must not miss. You see, it is what we finally reap as the result of an attitude or course of action that is important. What happens along the way, such as good feelings, are part of the Spirit's purpose but not the greatest part. It is the end result that matters.
And what is that end result? It is a quality of being. Jesus once said: "Love your enemies, do good ... and your reward will be great ... you will be sons of the Highest" (Luke 6:35, NKJV). Note the phrase, "you will be." The reward is more than just having -- it is being. Remember, the goodness or badness of an act is determined, not just by what it does to others but by what it does to you. So having the Holy Spirit within us is not just being the recipient of pleasurable emotions -- it is being a better person.
O God my Father, help me right here at the beginning to get my focus right and yearn, not so much for better feelings, but to be a better person. In Christ's Name I ask it. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What is the key to producing good fruit?
2. What does "prosper" mean in this context?