The Fruit of The Spirit, Meekness to Love

Meekness is a disposition to obey, a desire to follow Christ, which requires the believer be divested of selfishness. A desire to follow Christ, as Jesus, pointed out, begins with a poverty of Spirit, a humility that wants to give not take, that lives in community and not for self.

It isn’t faith that comes from this union of temperance and meekness, but  faithfulness. Faith as faithfulness [same word] is meekness in action. An in depth study of this truth awaits the scholar who would take up the gauntlet. But here, the prima facie argument is to outline the relation among these 9 Fruit.

What is Goodness then?  One scholarly comparison called goodness a mark of Christian character to which kindness or gentleness is its outward expression. But goodness also has a less gentler side to it because it honors God’s Word above all. Faithfulness develops such character. Faith or faithfulness—to use James’ thought “is dead” without it [James 2:20].  

Goodness has a gentler side, Gentleness, that is a major expression of God’s love through us to others. Trench called gentleness “a beautiful word, as it is the expression of a beautiful grace [which] occurs in the N. T. only in the writings of St. Paul.”⁠1 Trench went on, “‘sweetness’ (2 Corinthians vi. 6), has seized more successfully the central notion of the word.“⁠2

Here we can outline the opposite traits: starting with carnality, which leads to a disinterest in the things of God, leading to a faithless life with no interest in God’s Word. Such a selfish interest is often cruel not reasonable or “sweet.” One can begin to see the value of the Spirit in the believer’s life bringing us into meaningful Christian community and fellowship and taking us away from ourselves as an only interest.

Gentleness is benignity, a kindness, that is more than tolerant of others but accepting of them. No word describes this better than “longsuffering.”  Ephesians.4:2 “longsuffering, forbearing one another in love,” Richard Trench taught, “beautifully expounds the meaning which [Paul] attaches to the word.”⁠3

The first 3 Fruit are elsewhere in Paul’s writings ascribed to God. “The kingdom of God is ..  peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 14:17]. And we know that “God is love.” [1 John 4:8]. The order in the Fruit is also reasonable. Tolerance in love leads to peace, harmony and unity.  It is a veritable definition of it!  And when we are at peace among ourselves, as believers [as well as best we can with all others] there is joy. There is no joy in disharmony and disunity.

And all these 8 Fruit define agape love. To describe God’s love outside the nuances supplied by these 8 Fruit of the Spirit is to see God’s love with a selfish interest that denies the importance of loving others as Christ loved us [John 15:17]. Christian community and fellowship is built on this foundation, as Paul, howbeit, a bit cryptically, explained, “the body … edifying … itself in love” [Ephesians 4:16].

There is a relation among these 9 spiritual qualities suggested in their generally accepted meanings by scholars that can be represented in a target motif. Each level or trait is defined by the “rings” or qualities within its circle. Another way to imagine it is requiring the lower circled quality for the next outer one.


How does this not describe heaven! Are not the Fruit of the Spirit the earnest [arrabon] of the Spirit? [2 Corinthians 1:22]. As the arrabon, I see the Spirit as an introduction to heaven, the first installment (I use this analogy respectfully) of our future inheritance in Christ [Ephesians 1:14]. The Fruit as a description of love and grace is also a glimpse behind the gates of pearl into another life free from all the negatives that these 9 Fruit have removed: “hate, sorrow and grief, division and partisanship, fighting and arguing, violence, lies and deception, mistrust, pride, and selfishness—or as Paul lists them, the works of the flesh. This is an exceedingly rich grace [Ephesians 2:7].

The Fruit of the Spirit, Part 2: Temperance

1 Richard C. Trench Synonyms of the New Testament (Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company,,Grand Rapids, MI: 1975)  page 232.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid. page 196.
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