Tom Hayes


Galatians 5:22-23

Like many boys growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, I worked some in the apple industry. Even though, on many occasions, I would like to have been somewhere else doing something else, it was good for me and probably kept me out of a lot of trouble. Besides, I learned a lot of things, one lesson I want to use now.

Did you know you can take a Crab apple tree, cut it off at the base, and make it a Red Delicious apple tree? By grafting a little Red Delicious shoot into the Crab apple tree trunk, you can create a brand new tree. Within a few years, the tree will bear beautiful, Red Delicious fruit. That's right! It will never be a Crab apple tree again.

What an illustration of how the Lord changes lives! This special truth is set forth in the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians. He writes, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Gal. 5, 22, 23). Let's give our attention, now, to this portion of the Scriptures, and see what we can learn about this subject.

1. The Miracle Performed By The Holy Spirit

The Apostle has just described the life of the unregenerate (5:19-21). In fact, in the opening statement of our verses, a most visible contrast is made between the former works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. We were full of adultery, idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, and many other fleshly practices. We were nothing but Crab apple trees bearing the fruit of our fleshly nature. "BUT!" But God, by His Spirit, with His great mercy and love, intervened and worked a miracle in our hearts and lives.

First, He came to where we were! He came down to the Crab apple side of the orchard, to where we lived. Then, He began to cut us down! Using different means and varied experiences in life, He, to use an old saying, "cut us down to size!" It was painful, humiliating, and destructive as the Holy Spirit dealt with our old life. But, thank God, He removed the old fruit and the old branches from which it grew, as well.

Of course, when the Lord saved us, He did more than just remove the old manifestations of sin. Had He only removed the bad fruit, eventually, we would have produced more of the same. Had He only cut us back or down, we would have pushed up some new growths from the same old nature. But, another phase of the miracle is that a new nature has been grafted into the old trunk. We are new trees, now, and the Holy Spirit can produce His fruit in our lives!

2. The Ministry Provided By The Holy Spirit

If there is any divine fruit produced in our lives, it is to be credited to the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is not our fruit! It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit! We could not produce anything holy in the past, and since we have the same old nature, or the old trunk, it is impossible for us to produce any spiritual fruit now. But, the Holy Spirit can do in us, for us, and through us, what we cannot do in, of, and for ourselves. He can produce "love, joy, peace" and the other wonderful fruit described in the text.

How does the Holy Spirit evidence these divine qualities in our lives? By simply contrasting the works of the flesh (5:19-21) with the fruit of the Spirit (5:22, 23), it is clear that there is a change in authorities or powers. Where the works of the flesh are manifest, the flesh rules supreme. But, where the divine traits are demonstrated, the Holy Spirit is Lord. Spiritual fruit is manifest, then, where the Lordly rights of the Holy Spirit are acknowledged and appreciated.

As Paul wrote earlier in this same chapter, spiritual fruit is not produced without conflict and war. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (5:17). There is a genuine battle that is waged on every level of spiritual development. However, as we reckon the self-life to be dead, and yield ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit, the old trunk is rendered useless, and the new tree becomes all He wants it to be.

3. The Manifestations Produced By The Holy Spirit

The text reads, "But the fruit of the Spirit is . . ." You readily recognize that the word "fruit" is singular. The attributes, on the other hand, are multiple. We might say, then, that there is one fruit, but nine different flavors of that one fruit. And, all nine flavors are the special manifestations of the Spirit. Only He can produce "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."

To say the least, this is delicious fruit! "Love" is elsewhere rendered "charity;" "joy" is synonymous with "gladness;" "peace" is to be equated with "tranquility, or rest;" "longsuffering" is another word for "patience;" "gentleness" is "kindness, or goodness;" "goodness" has to do with "uprightness of heart and life;" "faith" refers to "faithfulness, or fidelity;" "meekness" is understood as "mildness;" and "temperance" relates the idea of "self-control."

Where the Holy Spirit is Lord, Christ is always exalted! All nine of these characteristics display nothing but Jesus Christ! Love is the charity of Jesus. Joy is the celebration of Jesus. Peace is the calm of Jesus. Longsuffering is the constancy of Jesus. Gentleness is the care of Jesus. Goodness is the comfort of Jesus. Faith is the confidence of Jesus. Meekness is the consideration of Jesus. Temperance is the control of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit, then, is the Spirit of Christ manifesting the reality of Christ in our lives!

If you walked through an apple orchard, you would not hear one tree groaning and trying to produce fruit. No! The trees cooperate with the flow of the sap and produce fruit accordingly. Then, why are so manyChristians trying to produce fruit? Oh, may we quit our groaning and striving, and cooperate with the flow of the sap, or the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As we yield to His Lordship and to His divine operations, He will produce His fruit, these Christ-like qualities in our lives. Amen.