FOUR FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Gal v. 22.
It is certain that man ought to possess these fruits chiefly for three reasons. Firstly, on account of necessity. Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. (St. Matt. vii. 10) Secondly, on account of their sweetness, because they refresh the mind with ineffable delight, I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste. (Cant. ii. 3)d Thirdly, on account of profit, because they confer many benefits.
The fruits of holiness and righteousness are needed by man, since without them his life is not characterized by what saves him. The fruits of holiness and righteousness comprise the object of man’s highest desire. All men by nature desire to know and to be happy. The highest happiness comes when man is in possession of the Supreme Good. The fruits of holiness and righteousness also confer on man many benefits. Through them he is bettered by sanctification that leads to salvation, and thus he benefits others.
- The first fruit, LOVE, has three wonderful virtues.
(1) Because the man who eats this fruit is made unconquerable. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution … in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. (Rom. viii. 35-38)
Love is the first fruit and it fills a man with the love of God in Jesus Christ. The Love of God in Jesus Christ is shared with us through the coming of the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost comes into us, we must ask Him to begin the process of conquering all that is opposed to His desire to save us. Thus we ask the Love of Christ in the Holy Ghost to saturate and penetrate our innermost being. If He does not, we are as those in whom the Holy Ghost lies dormant and sterile.
(2) Because every good and evil profits him who is refreshed by this fruit. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose. (Rom. viii. .28) All things refers to all things good and evil.
When the Holy Ghost is infusing the love of God in Jesus Christ into our souls, we shall begin to be in a state of spiritual warfare. Many so-called Christians today have never reached this state. This is because they have not found their sins, claimed them, confessed them, and begun the warfare against their reappearance. The Holy Ghost leads us into this warfare. It requires patience, zeal, and courage. Good and evil will be at war within us, for as long as we live. If there is no warfare between good and evil in us, we are in terrible trouble. That we are still living means that God is giving us extended time to repent of the sins which we have not conquered. So we must thank God for the honor to wage this war within ourselves. We must praise Him also for allowing good to come out of evil, virtue out of vice, and something out of nothing through the victory of Christ’s Spirit within us.
(3) Because he who eats such fruit shall not die eternally. Charity never faileth. (1 Cor. xiii. 8.)
The third virtue of Love is that it never dies. If Love is one of the fruits of holiness, its greatest boom and boost is that it is infused in us as what shall never be destroyed. Thus we must embrace it with all the more earnestness, lest through sin we lose it. We must cherish and treasure, grow and multiply it in our hearts in cooperation with the Holy Ghost.
- The second fruit, JOY, has likewise three great virtues.
(1)Because the eating of this fruit makes men strong to conquer every evil spirit. Spiritual joy is one means of conquering the enemy. (S. Anthony)
Spiritual Joy is found in that response to what the Lord has done for us already in Jesus Christ. Spiritual Joy comes about when with all thanksgiving, adoration, praise, celebration, magnification, and glorification we bless the Lord. This Joy must come by way of practice. But if it is not practiced, the Christian will be in danger of its eternal opposite –Sadness.
(2) Because it makes men live forever. There is no joy above the joy of the heart (Ecclus. xxx. 16.)
The fruit of Joy is deepest desire of the human heart. All men desire to be filled with a Joyfulness that cannot be taken away from them. That men seeks false forms of joy is a sign that deep within there lurks a passion and longing for the joy that will enable us to live forever.
(3) Because it leads those who eat it to the glory of the Heavenly Kingdom. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Rom. xiv. 17)
The quality of everlasting joy is found only in the Kingdom of God, where we shall know even as we are known. (1 Cor. xiii. 12) The joy we shall experience has nothing to do with the fulfillment of earthly needs or pleasures. This joy will open our eyes to that uninterrupted communion with our Heavenly Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Ghost.
III. The third fruit, PEACE, likewise has three great virtues.
(1) Because it protects man from all evil : The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philipp. iv. 7)
The fruit of Peace will defend us from all evils, or from all that threatens the Joyful Love of God for us and us for Him. This peace will carry out of the spiritual warfare and into a land where no one and no thing shall threaten our reconciliation with God the Holy Trinity.
(2) Because it causes men to become sons of God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (S. Matt. v. 9.)
Peace is a virtue that longs for all other men’s salvation. Christians too often live in a world of ‘us and them.’ That is a world of warfare. If Christians hope to be rewarded with the Peace of God in Heaven, they had better start practicing it on earth. This requires each Christian to be in love and charity with his neighbor, Christian and Pagan alike. Even if another Christian or a Pagan consisiders himself to be our enemy, we can become his friend in prayer. In prayer then we can yearn and long for our neighbour’s salvation. This is a kind of peace that leads to our becoming the children of God. The only warfare that should consume us is the warfare with sin in ourselves.
(3) Because in the place where the fruit is found God willingly dwells and rests. In Salem [i.e., peace] also is His tabernacle. (Psd. lxxvi. 2)
Now if we are praying for the virtue of Peace, God shall be found in us. Peace is that virtue that defines the desire of the Saint for all other men. If we desire to be filled with Peace, God shall dwell in us since His desire for all men is that they should be one even as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are one. God is at Peace and we should long for the same Peace.
- The fourth fruit, LONGSUFFERING, or PATIENCE, has also three great virtues.
(1)Because the eating of it gives man wisdom. He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding. (Prov. xiv. 29)
Wrath is the enemy of God’s Wisdom. God’s Wisdom is His Truth and Reason for the creature. The creature is made to be embrace God’s Wisdom in order to perfect his nature. Not if we are full of ire, rage, wrath, and fury, we do not allow God’s Wisdom to move and govern our lives. God’s Wisdom requires us to see all other men and ourselves in Him. God’s Wisdom stops us, slows us down, and opens us to God’s desire for universal salvation. If we are full of anger and wrath, we deny God’s Wisdom and the means to it, which is Patience and Longsuffering. We then put ourselves in the place of God by judging and condemning rather than patiently praying in the light of Wisdom
(2) Because it preserves the soul of man. In patience possess ye your souls. (St. Luke xxi. 19)
Patience preserves the soul for further perfection. In patience the soul waits upon God and His Truth. In patience the soul waits upon God and His will. In patience man discovers the stillness and quiet of eternity, beginning here and now.
(3)Because it makes even bitter things sweet, so great is its sweetness. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations ; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (St. James i. 2-4)
Patience is essential to growth in sanctification. If we are not patient with the process of the Holy Ghost’s take-over in our lives, we shall fall back into sin. Trials and temptations are common to man. In fact Christ Himself has endured the same trials and temptations that beset us. Such is essential to the working out of our salvation. Patience means to suffer. We should count ourselves blessed to suffer as our Master has suffered. We should praise God for the suffering that brings forth perfection. Without patient suffering, we shall not be saved.