I have heard many people ask “What defines a man?” or “What characteristics should be true of a godly woman?” Studies about the social and cultural differences between men and women could truly fill countless books.

In light of how heated and embittered some of these conversations get, I often choose to answer these questions with a question of my own: “What characteristics ought to describe all believers?”

The Galatian church struggled to understand what it looks like to live the Christian life. Paul gave them a rather detailed answer, but two verses especially stand out:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22–23).

Note that “fruit” is singular. The Holy Spirit produces all 9 of these characteristics in our lives as we walk by faith.

For the rest of the month, our staff is taking a deeper look at these “famous 9” characteristics, particularly as they relate to evangelism.

Each characteristic dynamically affects our personal evangelism as God uses our demeanor and behavior to attract non-Christians to the Savior.

To get started, here’s a helpful chart from The Evangelism Study Bible.

Fruit

What it is

Love               

  • Sacrificially meets the needs of others
  • Primarily involves an act of the will
  • Doing what is best for others even if that means a personal sacrifice

Joy                 

  • Deep, inward satisfaction that isn’t dependent upon circumstances
  • Lasting kind of happiness based in the Lord
  • Results from loving God and people in a godly manner

Peace              

  • Tranquility of heart from knowing all is right in our relationship with God
  • The opposite of anxiety and worry
  • Comes from knowing that we can rest because God is in control

Longsuffering

  • Endurance through difficulty
  • Bearing with others even when we have been wronged
  • Can accept insult without fighting back

Kindness        

  • People-oriented rather than self-centered
  • Seeing other people as God sees them, showing them grace, and serving them

Goodness       

  • Demonstrating hospitality and generosity
  • Placing others before self
  • Comes as we turn everything we are and have over to God as tools to be available for His glory

Faithfulness   

  • Consistent and dependable
  • Comes from a consistent spiritual life

Gentleness     

  • Submitting to God’s control rather than acting out of selfishness
  • Imitates Christ (see Matt. 11:29), in whom there is no rudeness or arrogance

Self-Control   

  • To discipline the inner self
  • Letting the Spirit bring our minds and bodies into submission, especially in matters of morality

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