The Fruit of the Spirit: A Children’s Bible Lesson
By Kimberly Perkins
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Have you ever wondered why the fruit of the Spirit is singular instead of plural? With a list of nine different qualities, shouldn’t they be the “fruits of the Spirit?” I recently read a book by Christopher J. H. Wright entitled Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit. Wright describes the fruit of the Spirit, not as a bunch of grapes but as an orange. An orange has different slices that together make one fruit. If one slice of the orange is missing, it is no longer whole. It needs all the slices to make it one whole orange. The fruit of the Spirit is not a bunch of different qualities but, instead, one character package. We cannot pick and choose which qualities we as Christians would like to have, as we would pick an appetizer or entrée off a menu. We need the Spirit of God to produce all these qualities in us. The fruit all work together and strengthen each other.
The first slice of our orange is love. In John 13:35, Christ says that we will be known as His disciples if we love one another. Showing and acting out love will be the evidence to prove that we are Christians. If we are having a difficult time loving someone, we should ask God to fill us with His divine love because “God is love.” (I John 4:8) He acted out this love by allowing His only Son to die for you and me. As a mother, I cannot imagine allowing one of my sons to die for anyone! Yet, God loved me so much He that did just that. His great love is a model of what love should look like in our own lives.
Our next slice is joy. This joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is more often associated with something material. Joy, however, is much deeper. Joy is knowing who we are in Christ; knowing that, no matter the circumstances, we have hope for the future. In our busy lives, sometimes our joy is hard to find. I started writing a list of things I can do to find my joy when I don’t necessarily feel joyful. One of those things is to eat with and fellowship with my friends, family, and co-workers. It may seem like such a small thing but how many times in Scripture do we see Christ sit and eat with his disciples?
Have you ever experienced the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension…?” (Philippians 4:7) I can still remember the many times God has calmed my heart and spirit during some very difficult times. His peace washed over me and it truly was beyond understanding. This peace does not give in to anxieties. It is a gift to us from Christ. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” Anxiety and worry are not a gift from Christ, yet we will take them over the gift of peace that Christ does give us.
Patience is a slice of our orange that operates like oil in an engine. Without the oil, friction would cause an explosion. Without patience in our lives, we would have no peace. Patience is forgiving, loving, and putting up with others even when we don’t think it is deserved. “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
Have you ever met someone and you just knew they were a Christian? Was it their unselfish kindness to others that tipped you off? Kindness towards others is the mark of someone who genuinely loves. Kindness does not come naturally to us. It is something we will have to make a habit in our lives. Yet, when others see kindness in us they are attracted to it because it is a sign of the One who lives in us.
Goodness, described in the list of the fruit of the Spirit, comes from God alone and is only achieved by His power at work in us. There is a difference between “doing good” and “being good.” Doing the right thing even when it costs or hurts is real goodness. When we do good things, we are demonstrating the saving power of Christ in us.
“Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Psalm 36:5) If God were not faithful, then our salvation would not be solid. Our salvation is rock solid because God has shown His faithfulness by keeping His promises. He is trustworthy and dependable. As a Christian, we are to reflect His faithfulness by being honest and people of integrity.
Gentleness is not the same as weakness. A gentle person speaks the truth but with a soft touch. “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) Gentleness is like calamine lotion to poison ivy. The lotion soothes our itchy skin just as a gentle reply can soothe an aching heart. It takes a strong person to be gentle; to say what needs to be said without anger or aggression. In I Kings 19, God chose to speak to Elijah not in an earthquake, fire, or strong wind but in a gentle whisper.
Our last slice of the orange is self-control. The biggest reason to be self-controlled is to show we are choosing Christ’s way over the world’s way. It is knowing that we could give in to our temptations but, instead, we choose to use self-control.
In the Bible, we can see that God has love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. It is not surprising then that those who walk closely to Him reflect His character. These fruit are not rules but, instead, qualities of character that only the Spirit can give. They flow from Christ who dwells within Christians. And as Wright says in Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, “without the fruit of the Spirit, our unattractive lives cannot reflect the beauty of the gospel.”
Written by Kimberly Perkins, a missionary at CBM’s Camp Victory in Samson, AL. To learn more about the ministry of Camp Victory, click https://www.campvictoryal.org/summercamp.