The Holy Spirit, the helper sent by Jesus to guide the body of Christ into all truth is an unending gift! Gifts are often what is associated with the Holy Spirit—from wisdom, words of knowledge and prophecy to faith, administration and speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Scripture tells us the Spirit is the source and distributor of these gifts. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul urges believers to desire these gifts, but he also spends the chapter prior, 1 Corinthians 13, grounding these wonderful gifts in the first fruit of the Spirit: love.
Operating in a supernatural ability is an exhilarating way to experience God and bless those around you. However, if that gift of the Spirit isn’t rooted in love Paul says it’s “nothing.” The gifts of the Spirit are incredible, but the real test of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the fruit of the Spirit. Paul shares these traits in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (NASB).
As we seek to lead lives guided by the Holy Spirit and bearing His fruit—here are nine brief tests to identify the fruit of the Spirit in your life. These are not exhaustive, but are great starting points as you explore the fruit of the Spirit and how it shows up in your life.
1. Love: Are you laying down your life for others?
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus modeled this love unto death, and He left us with a “greater commandment”—to love God and love people (Matthew 22:36-40). When we are exhibiting the fruit of love in our lives, we position ourselves as servants to those around us, putting their needs before our own and seeking to operate for their good.
2. Joy: Are you taking delight in Jesus and in the growth process?
Romans 15:17 says the Kingdom of God is living a life of righteousness, peace and joy! Joy is a key component to a Kingdom mindset—are we able to delight in who Jesus is and what He is doing in and around us? James 1:2 even invites us to consider difficulty an opportunity as great joy…if we are able to step back and gain perspective on the trials of life, we can see that every circumstance can mold us more into His image.
3. Peace: Despite circumstances, are you able to rest in the capable hands of the Lord?
Peace is another component of the Kingdom of God. Are you able to stay in a place of trust in the goodness of God when faced with challenging circumstances? Philippians 4:7 states, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is possible to access peace that our minds don’t understand. This peace serves as a guard to what we are thinking and feeling. The fruit of peace keeps our thoughts and emotions from running amok.
4. Patience: Are you able to wait well and extend grace to difficult people?
Some translations use the word “longsuffering,” but quite simply, are you one who is slow to anger and able to manage yourself well as you wait? Proverbs 16:32 advises, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Patience looks like an ability to manage oneself and to respond reasonably and with honor when provoked.
5. Kindness: Are you choosing to serve others with honor?
It is easy to be kind to those we like, but to show kindness to those who tax our patience truly requires submission to the Spirit. When we are exhibiting the fruit of kindness we are serving others with honor and deference, even when they may not reciprocate or appreciate our efforts.
6. Goodness: Do you actively think about and initiate good for those around you?
When Moses asked to see God’s glory in Exodus 33, God showed Moses His goodness. As we seek to emulate our Father, adopting His heart for goodness is a clear indicator of the activity of the Holy Spirit. This can manifest through gestures of generosity as well as active expressions, such as taking out the trash for your spouse or cleaning up someones yard.
7. Faithfulness: Have you fully received the gift of His faith and put it to use?
The beauty of faith is that it’s given to us by God; we can’t muster it up on our own! We do not have to do anything to receive faith. However, when we receive faith, we should want to do something with it! James 2:14-26 outlines how faith leads us to expressions of partnership with God. What we do because of our faith should show others that we have faith.
8. Gentleness: Are you submitting your strength in service to those around you?
The Greek word here is also translated as meekness, which means strength under control. When we express gentleness with others, we are submitting our power and strength to respond to situations with tenderness and patience instead. This fruit is sometimes paired with humility in scripture as it requires one to lay down pride and serve the situation by controlling one’s own reactions (Eph. 4:2, Col. 3:12).
9. Self-Control: Are you able to manage yourself in areas of freedom?
Walking with the Father allows us a lot of freedom as His sons and daughters. Within that freedom, we have a responsibility to manage ourselves in a way that reflects who our Father is and respects our brothers and sisters, as well as ourselves. We are His Temple here on earth (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and are called to glorify God through how we manage our physical bodies.