This is a study I lead over the course of ten weeks on how we can walk worthy of our calling as Christian women, specifically considering how we can be full of the fruits of righteousness in our marriages. Though the primary applications will be to married women, there is no reason that unmarried women should feel excluded. This first lesson is a discussion of fruit in general. Subsequent lessons will examine each of the fruits mentioned in Galatians.
Women, Marriage, and the Fruit of the Spirit: Part 1
We are all pretty well acquainted with the passage in Galatians 5:22-26:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness [gentleness], goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [meekness], self-control [temperance]. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it is passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.(*These verses are from the NKJV. The words in brackets are from the KJV.)
If we want fruit in our lives, we must first acknowledge the source of all such fruit, which is of course the Spirit of God who indwells His people. That is why it is called fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of Jane or Susan. Notice that the antithesis of Spiritual fruit is the flesh with its passions and desires. Paul mentions here a few specific manifestations of fleshly passions: conceit, provocation, and envy.
James 3:14-16 makes the same point: But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
He then contrasts this with a fruitful, Spiritual wisdom in verses 17-18: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield [easy to be entreated], full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Also in Galatians 5, but not quoted as often, is the list of the works of the flesh. Verses19-21: Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
We now have two distinct lists. The work of the flesh is described as bitter, envious, self-seeking, conceited, provoking, confusing, evil, demonic, sensual, and we have the list of its abominable works above. The fruit of the Spirit is in sharp contrast. It is described as peaceable, gentle, genuine, merciful, and we quickly see it is very much like the fruit described in Galatians.
The source of our fruitfulness is the Spirit, and it is a consequence of our resurrection in Christ. But not only is He the source of it all, He is also the direction of our fruitfulness. Our Spiritual fruit is to holiness and to God. In other words, it glorifies Him, pleases Him, and results in more fruit. Look at the passages below.
Romans 6:20-22: For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
Colossians 1:10: that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
The whole thing is a mystery. As God fills us with His Spirit, He increases the fruits of our righteousness (which He has freely given us in Christ), and this results in thanksgiving and more fruitfulness.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11: Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
Now what does all this have to do with marriage? A Spirit-filled wife will have the biggest impact on the ones in closest proximity. That means husbands and children will be the greatest beneficiaries of our fruitfulness and the result will be homes that are set free, marriages that please God fully, and lives that are laden with fruit. In the same way, an unmarried woman who is living a fruitful life will be a blessing to those around her. And in some strange way, when we live in a way that is pleasing to God, we are blessed ourselves.