• W. Austin Gardner

All about the Holy Spirit, fruit of the Spirit


The Holy Spirit always produces a nobler standard of work than the flesh. And such an outcome does not come through human power but from a holy Presence pervading the life. The fruit of the Spirit is character rather than conduct


being rather than doing.


In so many of our highly organized churches people are urged to do something. The Lord, however, wants them to be something. There is never any difficulty about service once true sanctity operates within the life.


Another aspect of fruit is that it does not exist for its own sake or even for the sake of the tree, but for the support, strength, and refreshment of those who care to gather the fruit. Christ, as the Vine, did not live unto Himself. Himself He did not save. If we live for our own sake, we live in vain.

Love heads the list, seeing it is the foundation, the moving principle of the other eight graces. Love is the leader of the band. John Bunyan has it, “Love is the very quintessence of the gospel.” Love, then, stands first, not as distinct from, but including all the rest. It is the root of all fruit. Love binds the three triads together. There is no separating all nine virtues, just as there is no separating the root, stem, and fruit of a tree. Of love, joy, peace, Bishop Lightfoot writes, “The fabric is built up, story upon story. Love is the foundation, joy the superstructure, peace the crown of all.”


Love is the life sap giving form and substance to the rest of the cluster.


A. B. Simpson, of reverent memory, wrote of Galatians 5:22,23, “It is all one fruit. We have not a great many things to do, but just one, and that one thing is love, for all these manifestations of the fruit are but various forms of love.


Love is the infallible credential of heart union with Christ. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love . . .” (John 13:34). Love is the color of the fruit. No matter what else we have, if love is lacking, the fruit is unripe. As a deep, rich color is the glory of the grape, so love is the chief glory of the believer. “Love is the Christian’s livery; by it man knows his Master.”

Love was the bond of Christian brotherhood in earlier days, when it was said, “See how these Christians love one another.” Minutius Felis said of the early Christians, “They love before they know each other.” To which Lucian sneeringly replied, “Their Master makes them believe that they are brothers.”

If love is the color of the fruit, joy is the bloom of the fruit. This second ingredient is of great attractiveness in the believer’s life. Joy is the flower of love, the very loveliness of love.


A joyless Christian is a contradiction of terms.

The first virtue can be translated “good temper” and implies the ability to avoid quarrels, heal injuries, promote goodwill, forgive, and forbear. Martin Luther in his valuable commentary on Galatians interprets “long-suffering” as being that grace “whereby a man doth not only bear adversities, injuries, reproaches and such like, but also with patience waiteth for the amendment of those which have done him any wrong.” Long-suffering is love enduring; love not easily provoked; love able to avenge wrongs but studiously avoiding them. Of such a grace, Bishop Lightfoot writes, “It is a patient endurance under injuries inflicted by others.” Long-suffering can mean “long on suffering.”

It is a quality unnatural to man. If long-suffering is grace to resist anger, smother hate, or endure animosity, then the natural heart will never be able to manufacture it. No earthly influence can produce such a fair, attractive virtue. The best of us are apt to be impatient over the faults of others. We are critically-minded, easily offended, eager for reprisal. For the unregenerate man nothing is sweeter than revenge. Alexander Maclaren says, “It takes two to make a quarrel, and no man living under the influence of the Spirit can be one of such a pair.” Alas, however, we are short-sufferers! Unspiritual in our thought-life, we are somewhat willing to make up the pair. Flesh meets the flesh, and there is further trouble. Unless Spirit-possessed, as we come forth from the fragrant chambers of love, joy, and peace, we are not prepared to meet “the cold gust of indifference or the icy wind of hate.”


Gentleness is power. How slow we are to learn that greatness depends upon gentleness, and not upon mightiness! Worldly axioms have it that knowledge is power; money is power.

Meekness is the opposite of self-parade, self-assertion, self-pride, self-will, and the high-mindedness so common today. As a grace, meekness runs counter to the conceit of the natural heart. All that is selfish, resentful, and vengeful indicates the spirit of the world and not the Spirit of Christ. Meekness will travel far in self-sacrifice for the good of others. This meekness is also foreign to that false humility Charles Dickens has personified for us in his character Uriah Heep, who always contrived to be “ ’umble.” Let us never be proud of our humility. What is true humility? The most satisfying definition is “realized nothingness.”


Meekness is not weakness. Sometimes meekness is mistaken for weakness, lack of character, or flabbiness. Such a reputation is alien to the truth, for meekness blends the harmlessness of the dove and the courage of the lion. It is moral power linked to patience and contentment, which ever endow the soul with irresistible might. Meekness can rise to heights of holy indignation over the iniquitous practices of man and yet treat all who offend with characteristic humility. What a picture gallery the Bible presents of those who were meek yet mighty!

Herbert Lockyer, All about the Holy Spirit (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2015).


Herbert Lockyer, All about the Holy Spirit (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2015).