I want to talk about joy. Actually, I want to find joy. But the Bible tells us that we have joy, or at least the seed of joy which is the Holy Spirit in us (Gal 5) and there too we are commanded to grow this fruit. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit’s help, or else how would they be saved? So we are all commanded to “walk in step with the Spirit”. And the result of this walk, the fruit, is that list of characteristics.
These are traits that should apply to everyone who’s saved, because of the changes God is making in us. We weren’t saved to remain as we are: Christ tells us to be perfect (Mat 5). Clearly that’s impossible now, but that’s the aim. That’s what God’s going to form us into. And so these aspects of perfection, this fruit of the Spirit, should increase the longer we are following God. I would argue that the fruit of the Spirit falls under the working of God in all men.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
(1 Cor 12)
Importantly, Jesus (Mat 5) commands us to have joy because of suffering. This clearly isn’t the joy that the modern world sells us. Happiness, health, fun times… these are good things, but they’re clearly not what’s going down when you’re suffering. So what is joy? And how do we increase it, practice it, grow in it, keep it persistent?
Note: This isn’t the same as the ‘Spiritual Gifts’ – we are clearly told that nobody has all of these (Rom 12), and furthermore the idea of ‘fruit’ and the idea of ‘gifts’ is separate – a gift is specialised, given for a purpose (1 Cor 12); fruit is what naturally is produced by a good tree (Mat 7).