Fruit of the Spirit of Life

The law of the spirit of life that sets us free from the law of sin and death is enacted and legislated by our Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth (Romans 8: 2). It is the spirit of life that liberates, transforms, and overcomes. 

And the closest thing we have to seeing this spirit of life is to witness its effects, or in more biblical terms, its fruit. 

Jesus talks a lot about fruit. 

He had just finished telling his disciples that they shouldn’t continue the cultural habit of assuming bad things happen to people simply because they’ve done bad things (Luke 13: 1-5). Evidently eighteen unfortunate souls had died when a watch tower in Jerusalem collapsed. The presumption was that the eighteen had perished because they were guiltier, worse sinners, than those who were still living. 

Among other things, this reasoning became an easy and not-so-subtle rationale for avoiding sympathy for those suffering. That is until Jesus emphatically asserts that tragedies are sometimes humanly unexplainable. Instead of trying to figure out some divine arithmetic for understanding human tragedy (for instance, if you’re healthy and spared of persecution and tragedy then it must be because you’re morally superior), Jesus commands his disciples to focus on their own need of repentance. 

And then he tells them a parable to cement his emphasis. A man planted a fig tree in his vineyard and came looking for fruit on it. Seeing no fruit, he tells his employee to cut it down, the tree having been barren for three years. The workman talks the owner of the vineyard into giving the tree one more year. Jesus masterfully ends the story there, with the tree spared for another fruit-bearing season. 

Of course, the parable and the circumstances that provoked it are multi-layered and rich with a variety of wise applications. Of course, that’s the kind of story Jesus always tells. 

Now let’s consider for a moment the nature of the spiritual fruit of the tree called our life. 

We’ve been planted as a seedling. Our God, in his wisdom, has germinated the seed and lavished it with sunlight, soil, and storms that over time are purposed to bare life-giving fruit. To draw on the parable above, the additional year of fertilizing and waiting for the tree to fulfill its fruitful purpose corresponds to the additional time we’ve been given to bare fruit in our lives. 

Fruit-bearing is why we were planted. Trees that are thriving bare fruit. 

The Apostle Paul pushes the agricultural metaphor further in Galatians 5: 22, 23. He identifies the “fruit” of the Spirit’s liberating, transforming, and conquering power as the eternally valuable moral qualities crowned by agape love. Those nine character qualities are our Lord’s instruments by which His work is done in the world and by which His kingdom is advanced. 

And one aspect of the “law” of the “spirit of life” and its fruits is that it will be victorious. Love wins, kindness has power, and joy reigns. Such is the law of the spirit of life provided through Jesus Christ. 

Paul D. Patton, Ph.D., is one of our Refres{her} bloggers. We appreciate Paul's bravery to add a male voice and round out our blog perspectives in writing what God put on his heart to minister to women. He is a professor of communication and theater at Spring Arbor University in Michigan. He has graduate degrees in Guidance and Counseling, Religious Education, and Script and Screenwriting, and a doctorate in Communication with an emphasis in theater arts. Paul has been married to his wife Beth for over forty years and has three daughters (all actresses)—Jessica, Emily, and Grace, three sons-in-law, David, Joe, and Eric, and four grandsons, Caleb Rock, Logan Justice, Micah Blaze, and Miles Dean.