The Lord Jesus pours the Holy Spirit into our souls. And the Spirit bears fruit in us, as if in a garden, or grove, or strawberry patch.
An expert spiritual fruit-grower, St. Paul listed twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. A clean dozen, like a box full of ten luscious red strawberries in a Christian soul.
Of course, we must not confuse the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Of which there are…seven.
Maybe we can distinguish the gifts from the fruits like this: The seven gifts turn our minds and hearts into conduits of God’s power. Then we show forth the fruits of that power by the way we behave and interact with others.
If our souls are like 15th-century Venetian cargo ships, then the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the sails, and the fruits are the precious cargo, which we have ready to unload, as soon as we make a port of call.
Reviewing all twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit could take a lot longer than eating twelve strawberries. So let’s look inside just three of the sweet-smelling cases found in the hold of the sailing ship propelled by the wind of God.
Fruit of Pentecost #1. Generosity.
When the wind of the Holy Spirit blows, it catches the sail of spiritual wisdom in our souls, and we are moved to share all we have without thinking about it. Just like God shares everything He has, spontaneously.
The Son of God said, “Everything that the Father has is mine.” Which is saying something, since the Father, being Almighty God, has everything. The Father has handed everything over to the Son. In the end, the Son will hand the entire cosmos back to the Father.
In other words, God does not know how to say, “No! Mine!” All He does is give. And because He gives, we exist. Because He gives, we have hope. Because He gives, the true fullness we long for can be ours.
So the gifts of the Holy Spirit bear the fruit of our generosity. What is mine is thine. ‘Mine’ vanishes, and everything is ‘ours.’
Spiritual fruit #2. Patience.
The spiritual gifts of knowledge and understanding bear a magnificent fruit in our minds and temperaments: We somehow can “see” that things happen because God’s plan is unfolding itself. Everything that happens happens because of God’s plan.
We know that God has immeasurable patience. He waits for us to give up our nonsense. A thousand years pass like a moment in His sight, because all He really cares about is our turning to Him with love. Keeping the seasons going, all the cicada cycles, plate tectonics and all that–He does it all with ease, in order to give us time to learn how to love.
So: Events do not happen randomly. Nor do they happen with the intent purpose of vexing me. God does pay attention, and He does not hate me. He loves us all, daily drawing us closer to Himself through everything that happens.
I cannot rush the process, since it’s all totally beyond me–how He plans to make me worthy of heaven. So this spiritual knowledge and understanding I have, born of faith, bear fruit in peaceful patience as God’s plan unfolds itself.
This fruit of the Holy Spirit also brings a great fringe benefit with it for everyone with a driver’s license. Impatient people get tickets. Impatient people get into accidents. Patient people wind up with lower insurance rates. Which brings us to…
Fruit of Pentecost #3. Joy.
The Holy Spirit filling the sails in our souls bears the fruit of joy.
Real joy has become so rare in this spiritually impoverished world that the word ‘joy’ itself has practically fallen into disuse. Everyone wants to feel ‘happy.’ But squirrels can feel happy. “Happy” ebbs and flows like a tide, affected considerably by meals and sleep. ‘Happy’ gives way to ‘depressed’ all the time, like the tides go in and out at the seashore.
But the joy which the Holy Spirit bears in us has more class. Spiritual joy sits on an immovable rock. Because it is God giving us a share in His own ‘emotion’–if we can use such a term with respect to the One Who keeps Mount Everest from disintegrating into dust.
The Father gazes at the Son, the Son gazes at the Father. The Origin gazes at the Pattern and Word of all that is–the Pattern of infinite beauty. And the Word, spoken out of love, speaks love back.
The joy of this mutual gaze, this infinite exchange of love—it is itself infinite, an infinite Yes, the unending ease and communion of God.
Can we, do we have our share in this? We do. Joy is one of the dozen strawberries. Christ gives joy which the world—even the world equipped with the internet and plenty of summer blockbuster movies—the world cannot give this joy of Christ. Christian joy abides in the deepest part of our souls, even when sadness and the pain of life in a fallen world afflict us.
This deep, enduring joy of Christ: It will conquer souls for the Kingdom of God. Let’s repent of all our sins and confess them, so that we can share in Christ’s joy. Then we can share that generous, patient joy with the drearily anaesthetized world.