The cover of our pew sheet displays the nine Gifts of the Spirit, which is a Biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit, according to chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the Galatians: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (5.22) The fruit is contrasted with the works of the flesh which immediately precede it in this chapter.
The first fruit is love. This love in Greek is agape and denotes an undefeatable benevolence and goodwill that always seeks the highest good for others, no matter their behaviour. It is a love that gives freely without asking anything in return. Agape is more a love by choice than philos, which is love by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world and which all have experienced. We have to ask ourselves if we display it in daily living.
Of the other eight we have some understanding of the words and qualities under discussion. They are grouped together and likened to fruit, which is the natural product of many living things.
The Fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian. The Greek word is singular, showing that “fruit” is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow, all the characteristics of Christ will be manifested in our lives. Yet, like physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in our lives overnight.
As we give the Spirit more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do - to shape us and grow us to look like Jesus. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being trans-formed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
Our task is to be open to the Holy Spirit and so allow him to do his work in us.
Bless you as you open yourself to him.