In the spring, we had a Mother/Daughter Tea at our church, the theme of which was the Fruit of the Spirit.
Here is the "fruit" passage, Galations 5.16-25:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Our speaker pointed out in her talk that the word "fruit" is singular. She spoke as if this were significant, but, as far as I could tell, she did not explain why. So it niggled around in the back of my brain for months. We speak about the fruit of the Spirit as if it were multiple fruits. For example, I've been part of a VBS program where we used a different fruit to symbolize each fruit of the Spirit. My kitchen, which has a "fruit of the Spirit" theme, is filled with various fruity items.
So what's the difference between one fruit and mulitple fruits? Is it just semantics or does it have a practical application? After several months of mulling it over, I think the Lord has brought to mind a picture that brings some clarity of thought to me, and in hopes that it will be an encouragement to others, I'll share it.
Think of and describe your favorite apple. Mine is a Gala, so I'll use that as an example. Gala apples are sweet, tangy, firm, juicy, mellow, long-lasting and crisp.
The fruit that grows in our lives when we live by the Spirit can be described similarly... it's loving, joyful, etc.
Does it matter whether it's one fruit whose various attributes are described or multiple fruits that the Spirit produces in our lives? Perhaps not, but here's the difference it makes in my thinking...
When I think of the fruit of the Spirit as one fruit with multiple attributes, it heightens my desire to be transformed in all these areas. I have found a tendency in myself to think along these lines, "Well, I'm not very self-controlled, but that's just a fruit the Spirit is still working on in my life." On the other hand, if one of the attributes of the (singular) fruit of the Spirit is self-control, than my not letting Him produce that in my life seems much more significant. A mushy Gala apple with a sour taste isn't a very good specimen of a Gala apple, is it?
Obviously, the fruit of the Spirit will not be perfected in us until we are perfected. Though saved by grace through faith, there is a lot of growing and changing to be done in us. We are all in desperate need of practical sanctification!
While He continues His faithful work in me, I find it both encouraging and challenging to think about what sort of a specimen of His fruit I am allowing Him to produce in my life. One thing I love about Gala apples is that they are all distinct and individual, but there are attributes that are consistent from apple to apple. Similarly, the fruit He produces in us will be unique and yet consistent as we let Him work in our lives.