Fruit of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Galatians 5: 22-23
But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1: 12-13
Christ is Risen!
I’m going to introduce two Greek terms today as we begin our discussion. The first is “fisiki thelisi” which means the “natural will.” This refers to the will that Adam had before the Fall, and that the New Adam, Christ, had when He appeared on earth.
The second is “gnomiki thelisi” which means “the will of knowledge”. At the Fall, Adam partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which means, in that moment, he gained knowledge of evil, whereas before the fall, he only had knowledge of God, and of good, and not of evil. The “natural will” of mankind was predisposed to do the will of God. This is the natural and God-like way that God made us, when He created us in His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26-27) The “gnomiki thelisi” is now a distorted will that is now predisposed to do what is wrong, rather than what is right. This type of will is UN-natural.
The title of the first reflection on Fruit of the Spirit was “You Can’t Have It Both Ways.” And the title of this one is “Why Do We Want It Both Ways?” The simple answer to this question of why we want it both ways is, because in our fallen nature (not our created nature), we now have a battle of good and evil going on inside of us. And we try to convince ourselves that we can do evil while at the same time “being good.” While it is true that we can do both, perhaps even on the same day, we cannot do both what is Godly and what is evil.
The journey of this life should be a journey from “gnomiki thelisi” to “fisiki thelisi.” In heaven, there won’t be this tension between the natural will and the will of knowledge. Christ, the New Adam, has the “fisiki thelisi” and the reason for the Resurrection is to open to us the path back to paradise and the “fisiki thelisi” the natural will, that Adam shared with God before the fall. Thus, our life journey, every day of it, should be a pursuit to temper “the will of knowledge” and work towards the “natural will.” This gap is closed only by the Holy Spirit, who completes what is lacking and fills what is empty in us.
Another introductory comment as we begin this study concerns whether we use the “fruit” to acquire the Spirit, or whether we use the Spirit to acquire the fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) The answer is the second one. Because if we use the “fruit” to acquire the Spirit, the quest will wind up empty. Because we will never fully acquire love, joy, peace, patience, etc. when we seek these things on our own. I may be patient in one moment and impatient in the next. Because I personally battle patience versus impatience, and since impatience often wins, I can’t proclaim myself to be a patient person.
Rather, the journey to the fruit starts with the Spirit itself. If I want to be more patient, I need to acquire more of the Spirit. I need to be more checked in with the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit starts with the Spirit, and the Fruit is a by-product, not the other way around.
The Fruit of the Spirit is a gift from God to “all who received Him, who believed in His name.” (John 1:12) To these “He gave power to become children of God,” not because we were born of blood or of the will of the flesh, but because we were born by the will of God. (John 1:13). Thus, the Fruit of the Spirit are not an entitlement, nor are they given to just anyone, nor are they acquired through hard work. They are a gift of God to us His children, because they are given by His will. They are cultivated through our work, but given initially by God. This is why the starting point in our growing in the Fruit of the Spirit is to grow in the Spirit, and the Fruit of the Spirit will follow.
Lord, thank You for the many gifts You have bestowed on me and on my life. Help me to always be cognizant that these gifts are from You. Help me to remember that the starting point of every good and perfect gift is from You. Because of this, give me the desire to grow in the Spirit, so that the fruit may blossom forth from my choice to be filled with the Spirit. No one is good but You Lord. No matter how good I try to be, I will never be good as You wish for me to be good. Thus, send Your Holy Spirit into me, so that the Spirit may strengthen my goodness, and so that through the Spirit, I may acquire a deeper sense of His fruit. Amen.
Seek after the Spirit and the Fruit will follow. Work to purify your soul so that the fallen will can be tempered as we work our way back to the natural will God created us with.