Fruit Before Gifts
By Kay Schultz
I can’t remember who said “the fruit of the Spirit must come before the gifts of the Spirit.” But that has stuck in my mind for the last couple of weeks. I finally realized it would be a good subject for a blog.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit has to do with Kingdom character. The gifts of the Holy Spirit have to do with Kingdom power. If you are looking for power you must first understand the fruit. Isn’t that a strange word for God to use for godly character traits? I thought so! But if you think about it, fruit is the end product of a growth period: seed, burial (Jn 12:24), watering, gradual development, fertilizing, pruning, finished product – fruit. Guess it’s a perfect word for what the Holy Spirit needs of us.
In Gal.5, Paul lists character behaviors. Some he calls “works of the flesh” and some he calls “fruit of the Spirit.” God has purposely made the Holy Spirit available to transition us from a lifestyle of those “works of the flesh” to a lifestyle of “fruit of the Spirit.” How does he do this?
It is the Holy Spirit’s work to change us. It is not our job to change ourselves. If you are a believer who has surrendered to His control, He will work to remove sharp or abrasive qualities from our character. Potentially, we will become quite like Jesus before we are sent out as disciples. Fruit of the Spirit manifested — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – will be the trademark of one under Holy Spirit control.
The Holy Spirit uses pruning to change our old man into a fully blossoming disciple. That work involves cutting and removing damaged, diseased or dead growth (John 15). He cleans up and cuts out weak or crowded growth. It can be a rough process, but it is worth it. Remember, no changing, no gifts. Jesus needs character before power. Pruning means you are doing something right. The connection is there.
So, you might be thinking – How will I know if I am making any progress? What should I be looking for? The following chart should be a help to answer those types of questions:
The Amplified Bible defines the fruit of the Spirit as “the result of His presence within us.” Fruit should be clearly visible in the lives of Jesus’s followers.
In I Cor.12:8-11, Paul catalogs the gifts of the Spirit – a word of wisdom; a word of knowledge; faith; gifts of healing; working in miracles; prophesy; discerning of spirits; different kinds of tongues; and the interpretation of tongues.
These power gifts are needed for the body of Christ to fulfill its mission on earth. They are ministries given to believers for the good of others. These gifts demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom of God (Acts 1).
Gifts of the Spirit give power to stand, power to change your world, power to help others and power to glorify God and advance His Kingdom.
The goal of every follower of Jesus should be to walk in both the character and power of the Kingdom of God. But remember the admonition – fruit before gifts!