Upon further reflection of my last post (Resolution or Reflection?) and my own completion of that yearly exercise, I thought I would share my definitions of each fruit of the Spirit. As I wrote previously, “It has caused me to pause to think through just what each of these fruits is really describing and the tangible evidence that would be demonstrated in my life if it were marked more by the fruit of the Spirit.” In other words, it can be tricky at times to determine whether or not I am increasing in, say, goodness unless I have really thought through what scripture means by goodness. It is one thing to say, “I think I am a basically a good person” and another to actually pinpoint tangible ways in which goodness is developing in my life.
Each of these definitions comes from a combination of the meaning of the word in the original language and the context in which they seem to be most commonly employed in scripture. At times I have further attempted to attach tangible action to a particular fruit. After all, while we tend to associate much of this fruit with a feeling or an emotion, scripture almost inevitably tends to associate them with an action or something readily evident within our character. So here are my working definitions for each piece of fruit:
- Love: Am I growing in my capacity to love others and do I love others well?
- Joy: Is the source of my contentment more internal than external? Is my joy less contingent on my circumstances?
- Peace: Am I operating from a sense of serenity rather than stress and chaos? Am I refusing to live in fear as I come to embrace truth?
- Patience: Am I growing in my willingness to stick with my commitments and my relationships, as well as endure my circumstances?
- Kindness: Am I becoming a more generous person?
- Goodness: Am I recognizing God’s kingdom in the people and events around me?
- Faithfulness: Am I growing as a follower of Jesus?
- Gentleness: Am I speaking the truth with love and humility?
- Self-Control: Are my energies being wisely directed? Am I less distracted and more focused on what God has called me to?
I must add that I don’t claim any of these definitions are the final word on the fruit of the Spirit. Rather they are my ongoing attempt to move each one from the etherial to the tangible in my own journey of discipleship. So did any of the definitions surprise you? What would you add to or take away from these questions?