The Way to Pentecost
Chapter 16: The Fruit of the Spirit
There are nine gifts of the Spirit and nine graces of the Spirit. The graces of the Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance. The Scriptures never confuse gifts and graces. Gifts are for service, and are bestowed in the sovereign wisdom of the Spirit. They are given according to natural endowment as their talents were according to the ability of those who received them. They are given according to Grace: "Having then gifts differing according to the Grace that is given to us." The differing gifts are adapted to the kind of service to which by the Grace of God we are called, whether of Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhortation, Beneficence, Administration, or Works of Mercy. Each may have some gift, some may have more than one, but all gifts of the Spirit are according to the Election of Grace, and are given for the effective working by each of the Divine Will. They are also according to Faith. There is a Faith that is among the gifts of the Spirit, but there is a faith that is basic to all gifts, and "God hath dealt to every man the measure of Faith."
Fruit Not GiftsThe Graces of the Spirit are the Fruit of the Spirit.
There are three leading passages that speak of the Christian character as fruit. The first is our Lord's allegory of the Vine and the Branches; the second is St. Paul's catalogue of nine virtues which he calls "the fruit of the Spirit"; and the third is St. Peter's list of Christian graces which he regards as the fruitful result of the life of Christ in the soul. There are many other passages in which the figure of fruit is used, but in these three representative passages there are set forth the conditions of fruitfulness, the cluster of fruit, and the process of fruitage. In the figure of the Vine the Holy Spirit is not mentioned, but in comparing Himself to the Vine and His disciples to the Branches, the Tree corresponds to the Body and the Life to ills Spirit. The diffusion of Life is the work of the Holy Ghost, and the fruit by which the Father is glorified is the fruit of the Spirit. Apart from Christ there is neither life nor fruit, but without the Spirit of Christ there can be neither union nor abiding.
Our Lord does not specify the fruit. What He emphasizes is the fact that it is fruit, and that it is fruit directly from Himself. Some have "no fruit," and they are cast forth as a branch that is withered; others are described as having "fruit," "more fruit," "much fruit," and "fruit that abides." The conditions of fruitfulness are union with Christ; being purged or cleansed by the Father; abiding in Christ; and having Christ abiding in us. St. Paul sums up all this teaching of the Vine and its Branches in the phrase "the fruit of the Spirit." He enlarges upon neither conditions nor process, for everything is implied in the word fruit. He assumes both conditions and process, and sets forth the result. This explains the difference between his list and that of St. Peter. Paul begins where Peter ends. One gives the result, the other dwells on the process of cultivation. Peter begins at conversion, by which the soul has "escaped"; to this experience of deliverance he says, "Yea, and for this very cause, adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue, and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge temperance; and in your temperance patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness love of the brethren; and in your love of the brethren love." The process begins in faith and ends in love. Then the Apostle Paul takes up the list: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance."
Garden or FactoryIn the Galatians passage the fruit of the Spirit is placed in contrast with the works of the flesh; and a striking contrast they make. The catalogue of sinful works begins with the sins of the flesh, and passes on to idolatry, discord, and drunkenness. The fruit of the Spirit begins with the characteristics of the spiritual mind, and passes on to its manifestation in personal character, social virtues, and practical conduct. The most striking feature of the contrast is the emphatic change from works to fruit. Works belong to the workshop; fruit belongs to the garden. One comes from the engines of the factory; the other is the silent growth of abounding life. The factory operates with dead stuff; the garden cultivates living forces to their appointed end. Works are always in the realm of dead things. Every building is built out of dead material. The tree must die before it can be of use to the builder. There is no life in stones and brick, in steel joists and iron girders. They are all dead and in the process of disintegration. Nothing material lasts. Man's best works fail and fade, crumble and pass away. "The works of the flesh are these" -- these are the products of all the operations of the flesh. The sinner becomes a victim of devilish ingenuity and cunning; a monotonous machine from which are turned out "fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like." That is the factory that keeps up the supply of the devil's kingdom and furnishes Hell with the souls of the damned.
Fruit does not come of man's labor. It requires his diligence, but it is neither his invention nor his product. He does not make the flowers. No skill of his brings the golden harvest of the fields, or the luscious fruit upon the trees. When man has done all he can, then God begins, and life proceeds. Fruit is God's work. The phrase "fruit of the Spirit" assigns the graces of the Christian character to their proper source. They are not of man's producing. They do not spring from the soil of the carnal nature. Men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles. Every tree brings forth fruit after its kind. The fruit of the Vine is not deposited in its branches to be quickened by an act of faith. It grows by the life that is in the Vine. Salvation is by grace, and the Christian virtues are the fruit of the indwelling Presence of the Spirit of Life. Fruit, not works!
The Cultivation of FruitFruit implies cultivation. "My Father is the husbandman." A neglected garden grows weeds in plenty, but its fruitfulness soon passes away. The gardener is a busy man. He always has to be caring for the things he grows. They only respond to love. They need protection, nourishment, and cleansing. Pruning is the surgery of love. "My Father is the Husbandman." He holds the knife. Chastening is proof of love. For the present it may not be joyous, but grievous. The present pruning is for future perfecting. It is often a painful process, but the glory of the Father is in the yield of the life in its fruit of the Spirit. Fruit must not be confused with gifts any more than it must be mistaken for works. Such confusion often leads to doubt and distress. It is not an uncommon thing for earnest workers in the Church to imagine that if they are filled with the Spirit they will be endowed with marvelous and miraculous power for service. Examples have been quoted of wonderful enduement that has turned commonplace men into marvels of power, and they look for like results. Gifts are not fruit. They may exist apart from great spirituality. The Corinthians were rich in gifts and poor in fruit. Our Lord told of some who wrought wonders in His Name, but they were none of His. Fruit is for all; His gifts He gives to each severally as He will. The fruit of the Spirit consists of sanctified dispositions. Gifts are according to the basis of natural endowments; fruit is the perfecting of grace in heart and life. Gifts apart from fruit do not glorify Him. To glory in gifts bringeth a snare, but fruit is sacrificial and sacramental and brings glory to all. It grows by abiding, and is perfected without noise or fuss, without anxiety or care. God glories in Fruit.
The Nine GracesThe term is singular, and though the number is plural, the grammar is correct. There is no grammatical difficulty any more than in the statement that "the wages of sin is death." The term is generic, and is used of the graces that follow as we use it of a cluster of grapes. They refer to character, and set forth the kind of man the Spirit produces rather than the things He inspires him to do. The nine elements have been divided into three sections of three each.
1) In relation to God: love, joy, peace.Perhaps all such divisions are a little arbitrary. It is much more likely that the singular term was meant to indicate unity, and all the nine belong to all three divisions.
2) In relation to our fellows: longsuffering, gentleness, goodness.
3) In relation to ourselves: faithfulness (not faith), meekness, self-control.
In newspaper English, the passage would read something like this: The Fruit of the Spirit is an affectionate, lovable disposition, a radiant spirit and a cheerful temper, a tranquil mind and a quiet manner, a forbearing patience in provoking circumstances and with trying people, a sympathetic insight and tactful helpfulness, generous judgment and a big-souled charity, loyalty and reliableness under all circumstances, humility that forgets self in the joy of others, in all things self-mastered and self-controlled, which is the final mark of perfecting.
This is the kind of character that is the Fruit of the Spirit. Everything is in the word Fruit. It is not by striving, but by abiding; not by worrying, but by trusting; not of the works, but of faith.
If this is the Fruit of the Spirit, for whom is the fruit grown?
Continue to Chapter 17: The Gifts of the Spirit