It's vital that Christians bear fruit in their lives—the fruit of the Spirit. But what does that fruit look like? In Jesus Christ we have the perfect example of what God's Spirit should produce in our lives.
In this issue The Good News wraps up a series of articles on the fruit of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians:5:22-23. What better example can we look to for showing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives than our ultimate example, Jesus Christ?
He perfectly exhibited all these wonderful traits of the Holy Spirit, not only during His entire earthly ministry, but also during His arrest, trial and crucifixion. Of course, Jesus was more than just a man—He was God in the flesh. As such, He showed His disciples what can be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Showing the fruit of the Spirit by His life
The first fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is love. Jesus' entire ministry was characterized by love. And the greatest demonstration ever of that love was the sacrifice He made for all of us. Jesus, who was a divine Being with the Father (John:1:1), sacrificed His heavenly power and glory to become a human being and subject Himself to painful humiliation, suffering and death for the sake of mankind (Philippians 2:5-11).
Jesus emphasized the fruit of love at His last meal—often referred to as "the last supper"—with the disciples. Notice His words: "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love . . . This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John:15:9-13).
Of course, these weren't mere words to Him. Jesus did lay down His life for His friends, serving as the supreme example of love.
The second listed fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy. Christ was filled with joy at the prospect of "bringing many sons to glory" (Hebrews:2:10). Hebrews:12:2 further tells us that "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,...for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising [disregarding] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (emphasis added throughout).
Amazingly, just before He suffered, instead of thinking of His own upcoming cruel suffering, He reminded His disciples that His joy would "remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John:15:11). He told them that they would be sorrowful over His departure, but "your sorrow will be turned into joy," and that "your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you" (John:16:20-22).
This chapter concludes with Jesus reminding them that "in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John:16:33). And, after His resurrection, the first word Matthew records the resurrected Jesus as saying is "Rejoice!" (Matthew:28:9).
In spite of the terrible suffering Jesus endured for you and me, He counted it a joy to serve humanity by washing away our sins in His blood.
Jesus was also a man of peace, the next listed fruit. One of His very titles is the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah:9:6). He referred to this fruit of the Spirit at the last supper when He said: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John:14:27). One of the first statements to His followers after the resurrection was "Peace to you" (Luke:24:36; John:20:19, 21).
And, in the coming Kingdom of God on earth, over which Christ will be King of Kings, there will be no end to the peace that will characterize His glorious reign (Isaiah:9:7; Romans:14:17).
Exhibiting fruit throughout His ministry
The fourth fruit of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5 is longsuffering . As the Good News article on this characteristic points out, the Greek words translated "longsuffering" also encompass the meanings of patience and endurance.
Jesus exhibited this fruit throughout His earthly ministry. The apostle Paul described an aspect of the ministry of Jesus this way: "I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience" (1 Timothy:1:16, New International Version). Even while suffering a painful death by crucifixion, Jesus exhibited the patient endurance to pray for those who were tormenting and killing Him (Luke:23:34).
Kindness, the next fruit on the list, was another hallmark of Jesus Christ's ministry. Paul noted this godly fruit as he wrote to Titus: "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared . . . according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus:3:4-5).
Christ's act of healing the ear of the high priest's servant Malchus even while being arrested is an incredible example of His kindness even under very difficult circumstances! Instead of worrying about Himself and His approaching pain, He reacted with kindness and compassion to Malchus' injury and immediately healed his ear, making the man whole again (Luke:22:51).
Goodness and good news
The next fruit of the Holy Spirit listed is goodness. When Peter summarized the ministry of Jesus, the ministry of which he was an actual witness, he stated: "Jesus of Nazareth . . . went about doing good" (Acts:10:38). And Jesus, regarding His supreme sacrifice, referred to Himself as the good Shepherd who "gives His life for the sheep" (John:10:11).
His message is referred to in dozens of references as "the gospel," a term meaning good news. Indeed, the entire ministry and sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the greatest example of God's goodness toward humanity.
The next fruit is faith or faithfulness . Jesus had total trust and confidence in God the Father, and He was Himself faithful to the responsibility the Father gave to Him. Even as He stated that He was in anguish due to His impending crucifixion, He resolved to stay with the plan of redemption to the very end. He summarized His mission in John:12:27: "For this purpose I came to this hour." He continues to serve His Church today as "a merciful and faithful High Priest" (Hebrews:2:17).
Gentleness is listed next. The Greek work is praus, with a basic meaning of gentle, humble and meek. Jesus declared that He was "gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew:11:29). Toward the end of His ministry, He came to Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy that the King would come "gentle and riding on a donkey" (Matthew:21:5, New International Version). However, gentleness does not mean weakness, as some assume. Jesus was anything but weak.
The last fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is self-control, the ability to control one's behavior. Jesus, as the One to whom the Father committed judgment (John:5:22), could have called down enormous power at any time against His enemies. But instead He exercised self-control throughout His ministry.
One example of this is found in Matthew:26:53-54. When Peter was trying to take things into his own hands, Christ reminded Peter that if He wished, He could call in "more than twelve legions of angels"—tens of thousands—to deal with those who were abusing Him. Instead, He stayed true to His calling, exercised godly self-control and allowed Himself to be arrested and crucified.
We should show the same fruit
Jesus Christ not only exemplified all the fruit of the Holy Spirit throughout His ministry, but He has made it possible for us to produce the same spiritual fruit as well. As His true followers, He expects us to abide in Him and bear much fruit (John:15:4, 8). Indeed, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus will live His godly way of life through us if we are yielded to Him (Galatians:2:20).
Following His example, the converted children of God will be manifesting the fruit of the Spirit—not only now in this life, but also forever in the soon-coming Kingdom of God! GN