The other day I was reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians and came across those well known verses in Chapter 5 (Verses 22 and 23) which talk about The Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit details those qualities which we should be producing as Christians if we have God’s power working in our lives.
So whilst I think it’s fair to say that these are familiar verses, its worthwhile having another look at them to see how we can apply these qualities in our lives today.
I read the verses in the King James Version of the Bible to start with:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
Many of these qualities appear self evident, for example, we all know what love and joy mean. But what about some of the more old fashioned words? What exactly is long-suffering or temperance? How should we show meekness?
Next I had a look at the Amplified Version of the Bible. As I’ve mentioned before, this version expresses different nuances of some of the words used in brackets, which is useful if you are exploring ideas.
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).
Here we learn that long-suffering means patience, temperance means self-control, and meekness means humility. This is a step towards making these fruits more relevant in our lives.
But can we take it a step further? I then looked at a copy of the Message Bible. For those who don’t know, the Message Bible is an extremely modern paraphrased version of the Bible, and not one I would recommend for an in-depth study. However it’s excellent for getting the gist of an unfamiliar passage, or seeing a familiar passage in a new light, or simply as a Bible that is easy to read without difficult old fashioned language.
I digress. What I have now done is taken the original Fruit in the King James Version and compared it to the translation in the Message Bible:
Love – affection for others
Joy – exuberance about life
Peace – serenity
Long-suffering – a willingness to stick with things
Gentleness – a sense of compassion in the heart
Goodness – a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people
Faith – involved in loyal commitments
Meekness – not needing to force our way in life
Temperance – able to marshal and direct our energies wisely
This list really gives us some food for thought. Faithfulness is not just about having faith dormant inside you; it’s about translating that faith into works. Self control isn’t just about avoiding the bad things in life; it’s about seeking out the helpful things.
We’ve learnt a lot just from two little verses and three different Bible versions. So the next time you read an overly familiar Bible verse, don’t just skip over it, make a note and come back to it. Use other resources to do a little research, and see how much you can still learn!