Questions 95 & 96

When God chose us to be his people, his purpose was to make us like Jesus.[1] God sent His Holy Spirit to be our Helper and to do that work in us. So, when we find that we are beginning to think and act more like Jesus, we know that the Spirit is at work in us. He changes us from who we were before we believed to become who He wants us to be. The Holy Spirit does not just work to change our actions. He is at work to shape our hearts.

 

How does the Spirit make that happen? First, the Holy Spirit helps us to turn away from the things that do not please God.[2] He works in us so that we can understand what is good and right. Then He guides us away from sinful* things. And He helps us do what is right. We still have sinful desires. But those desires grow weaker and weaker with the help of the Spirit. And our desire to please God grows stronger and stronger. The Holy Spirit gives us the help we need to turn away from the sinful ways that remain in us.[3]

 

The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom. He makes us wise in ways that help us to understand God and what God wants us to do.[4] The Holy Spirit has given us the scriptures* to help us know these things. And the Spirit uses the word of God to make us wise.[5]

 

Paul* lists some of the ways that the Spirit changes our hearts in a letter he wrote to a church* in Galatia.* He calls these, ‘the fruit of the Spirit.’ He does not use the word fruits, even though there are many things on his list. He uses the word fruit. He wants us to understand that the things on this list are all part of the same work that the Spirit does. All of these things grow together.

 

Perhaps he uses the word fruit to tell us something else. Fruit takes time to grow. The Holy Spirit begins his work in us from the moment we believe in Jesus. And he will keep working in us to help us grow until the day when Jesus comes again.[6]

 

Paul starts the list of the fruit of the Spirit with love. For Paul, love is not just about how we feel about someone. When we love God, we obey him. And when we love God in this way, we will love our neighbors,* too. We will lay down our lives for them as Jesus did.[7] Jesus not only tells us to love our neighbors. He tells us to love our enemies. And we cannot love this way on our own. That is only possible when the Holy Spirit is at work in us.

 

The fruit of the Spirit is also joy. This is a happiness that does not depend on what happens in our lives. Joy comes to us when we understand the grace* that God has shown us. The Spirit helps us see beyond what is happening now. He helps us see what God has waiting for us when Jesus comes again.

 

The fruit is peace. Peace is when we are free from worry or fear. We know that, even when we have troubles, God has a purpose for them. And Jesus has power over everything that troubles us.[8]

 

The fruit is patience. This is when the Holy Spirit helps us to keep going when life is difficult or hard. Patience helps us to show mercy* when people do wrong things to us.[9]

 

The fruit is kindness and goodness. Kindness comes from a heart that is gentle, a heart that shows mercy. When the Holy Spirit gives us a kind heart, we will do acts of goodness. We will not only have a good heart. We will also do good things.

 

The fruit is faithfulness. When we are faithful, it means that people can trust* us. Those close to us can depend on us to do what is good and right and just.

 

The fruit is gentleness. The Spirit helps us grow in gentleness. Gentleness does not mean that the Spirit wants us to be weak. To be gentle means that we are in control of ourselves. We do not allow ourselves to be angry and hurt other people. Gentleness means that we are to be strong.

 

The fruit is self-control. Self-control is like gentleness in some ways. It requires us to be in control of our desires. Self-control means that we are able to control our body. It means that we will not do things that will satisfy our desires in a way that would not please God.

 

The fruit of the Spirit in us shows that God is living in us. It is a sign to us and to those close to us that Jesus, our Lord*, is with us. And that he is working in us. The goodness, love, gentleness, peace, patience, and joy are the proof that the Holy Spirit is making us more like Jesus.


[1] Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Colossians 3:10
[2] Galatians 5:16-17; 1 Peter 5:8-9
[3] 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13
[4] Acts 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; Colossians 1:9
[5] John 16:13; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
[6] Philippians 1:6
[7] John 14:15; John 14:21; John 14:23; John 15:12-13; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 5:3
[8] John 16:33
[9] Ephesians 4:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:16