CONNECT people to Christ and POUR into their lives His teaching so they'll OVERFLOW for the glory of God

They Will Know You By Your Fruit: Biblical Definitions of the Fruit of the Spirit

I’m pretty excited about my new acquisition as of last Friday!  It’s not a new truck or guitar.  It’s not a new gadget or a pet.  It’s two big, mature blueberry bushes already loaded with fruit!

Oh, you’re not impressed?  Well, you probably don’t have a wife like I do who craves fresh fruit or a little blond-haired 22mo girl who begs for “bwuebewwies.”  I’m stoked to provide them with delight from those bushes!

As you probably know, the Bible talks a lot about fruit.  I’m not talking about the actual fruit mentioned in the New Testament, such as fruit grapes, figs, and olives.  I’m talking about metaphorical fruit, spiritual fruit.

Jesus tells us that we’ll be able to discern false and true prophets by the spiritual fruit that grows out of their lives (Matthew 7:15-20).  True prophets produce godly fruit while false prophets produce ungodly fruit.  The nature of a person’s heart, according Jesus, is exposed by the fruit that comes out of it (Luke 6:43-45).  Jesus also tells us that the presence of good spiritual fruit is an indicator of spiritual life (Matthew 13:23).  In other words, being regenerated leads to fruit production.

But, perhaps the most definitive passage on spiritual fruit is found in Galatians 5:16-24,

  • But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Paul is echoing the truth that Jesus said:  a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit (Matthew 7:18).  Therefore, those who are ruled by the flesh will produce sin, and those who are ruled by the Spirit will produce righteousness.

Which type of fruit do you see in your life?  Sinful fruit or righteous fruit?  If you claim to be a Christian, you had better be seeing increasing righteous fruit.  This fruit is proof that you have indeed been born again and been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

If you are going to determine the presence of godly fruit in your life, you first must know what these godly fruit are.  So, definitions will be helpful.  At first glance in reading Galatians 5:22-23, you may think that you already know what these words mean, but we must be careful to not let our definitions of these words be tainted with the world’s definitions.  So, I’ve provided definitions from a biblical perspective for these fruit of the Spirit:

  1. Love is strong affection for another person to the point of being equal to the affection you have for yourself and to the point that you are willing to sacrifice for that person, all of which is rooted in truth and God’s affection for you.
  2. Joy is the state of unshakeable assurance and unmitigated delight in response to God and His covenant promises to you.
  3. Peace is the removal of hostility, worry, or anxiety, leading to tranquility with God, other human beings, and within yourself.
  4. Patience is the capacity to steadfastly bear the burdens of inconveniences, difficulties, and trials without complaining while waiting on and trusting in the providence of God.
  5. Kindness is the quality of graciously acting with love and mercy toward another human being because they are made in the image of God.
  6. Goodness is the quality of living in a way that reflects God’s righteous character.
  7. Faithfulness is the quality of trustworthily standing firm in holding to promises and commitments you have made before God and man.
  8. Gentleness is the habit of choosing to act delicately as Jesus did, even in the face of opposition, so that everyone who comes into contact with you is built up and not torn down.
  9. Self-Control is the ability to restrain yourself in all facets of life for the glory of God.

As you reflect on these definitions, are these fruit increasingly evident in your life?  What areas of your life need pruning or cut away so that energy will be put toward good fruit?  What areas are you seeing the most growth in?

May God produce much godly fruit in you to His glory and your blessing!  Oh, and may God give me many “bwuebewwies”!


  1. Ben,
    Thanks for this post. In God’s providence, this is something I am dealing with presently in the lives of several new professing believers. Any words of wisdom for myself and others like me that are doing the hard work of disciple-making? How do we go about being fruit inspectors without becoming self-righteous hypocrites?
    Jeremy Vanatta

    • Great question, Jeremy! We who are disciple-makers are often the most critical toward other people’s fruit.

      If we are inspecting other people’s fruit and are being tempted toward self-righteous hypocrisy, I’d say:
      1) Get the log out of your own eye so that you can clearly discern another’s speck
      2) Remember that we’re progressively made more like Christ, which means we’ll progressively produce more and better fruit
      3) Disciple with much patience
      4) Invite others to inspect your fruit as well

      If we are inspecting our own fruit and are being tempted toward self-righteous hypocrisy:
      1) Remember that you are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and should boast in His fruit, not yours
      2) Realize that you produce zero fruit apart from the Vine, Jesus Christ
      3) Know that to begin with faith and then end with works (trusting in your own fruit) cancels out your hope of heaven
      4) Invite others to inspect your fruit because you are not as good as you think you are

  2. Just reading these scriptures (including the one with the “bad fruit”) should convict us all that we are never all the way to the goal. When I read them, I see all the areas in which I need the Holy Spirit’s help to improve.

    One other thing that has recently helped me in this area came out of our women’s tea. These are the fruits of the Spirit; we cannot achieve them on our own.

Leave a Reply