The fruit of the Holy Spirit
The Greek word karpos (καρπός), which is translated “fruit”, usually in the sense of edible fruits, can also mean offspring, deed, action, result, or profit.
Fruit, as use of the Holy Spirit in the Bible (Gal. 5:22-23), means deed, action, or result. Thus, the fruit of the Holy Spirit refers to the virtues or Christian character, produced as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the evidence of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in a person. It means what is expected to be seen in a person that has received the Spirit, as promised by Jesus.
A Christian’s life, by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the works of Christ, is a fruitful life (Rom. 7:4; Col. 1:10). A Christian “is like a tree planted by streams of water (which is the Holy Spirit – Jn 7:37-39), which yields its fruits in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3). The fruit spiritually refreshes the Christian and those around him and as well prepares the Christian for eternal life.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is summarised as “all goodness, righteousness and truth” (Eph. 5:9). It is the mark of discipleship (Jn 13:35) or the dressing of the disciples or “God’s chosen people” (Col.3: 12-15). Paul delineates this as the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit. He also wrote of “fruit” of righteousness (Phil. 1:11) and “fruit” of the light, (Eph. 5:9) all of which are different expressions of the same concept. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is given in Gal. 5:22-23 as a nine-fold cluster of fruit, which is so linked as to suggest that the absence of anyone means the nullity of all. The list consists of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The in-dwelling and working of the Holy Spirit in a Christian is indicated, expressed, or proven by the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not by “fire” or “wind” or “earthquake” (1Kings 19:11-12) or oratorical prowess or even the exercise of spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues or working of miracles, as presumed by many today. The Holy Spirit in a Christian is to be seen in the Christian’s high spirituality and godliness.
The fruit is contrasted with the works of the flesh, which immediately precede it in the passage. This indicates that producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit is contingent on setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5-9), and not walking according to the desires of the flesh. We can ensure the production of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives by:
• Walking in the spirit. Otherwise, we produce the works of the flesh, fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-17, 25-26).
• Allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. Only then are we truly the sons of God (cf. Rom. 8:14).
The Ven. Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.