A Good Life
The fruit of the Spirit
by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2011)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools
To introduce the fruit of the Spirit.
Preparation and materials
- Have available an image of the fruit of the Spirit and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/ya6svprs
- Optional: you may wish to display the list of Latin names and translations for the fruit of the Spirit in the ‘Assembly’, Step 6, in which case you will also need the means to do so.
- This assembly is about the fruit of the Spirit, which does not consist of fruits from a tree, but instead is a list of qualities in the Bible. The list is found in the New Testament part of the Bible, in St Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which is among the earliest of Paul’s letters.
Show the image of the fruit of the Spirit.
- Let’s start by putting Paul’s letter in context. Galatia – which is where the Galatians, the people to whom this letter was sent, lived – does not exist today. However, it is thought that it was probably in the central part of what is now southern Turkey. The Galatians whom the letter addresses were a Church, a fledgling group of Christians set up by St Paul on his many travels to faraway lands.
- St Paul is an amazing figure in the history of Christianity. He began his religious life as a Jew and became an ardent persecutor of the followers of Jesus because he regarded the new faith as posing a danger to Judaism. Paul is mentioned by the author of the Acts of the Apostles as being present at the martyrdom of St Stephen.
However, Saul, as he was then known, had a dramatic experience while travelling on the road to Damascus. He had a vision of Christ, who asked why Saul was persecuting him. Saul then lost his sight, until it was miraculously restored three days later. Following this experience, Saul converted to Christianity, changed his name to its Greek version – Paul – and became one of the most influential missionaries and developers of doctrine that Christianity has ever had.
- Once we understand this background, it is easy to see why Paul wrote about the fruit of the Spirit. He was an ardent believer in the power of God’s Spirit to direct and alter a person’s life.
- So, what are the fruits of the Spirit?
Christians believe that when the Spirit of God starts changing someone, that change shows as a growth in character, an alteration in someone’s way of life that is good for the people he/she lives among. This change in temperament is called a ‘fruit of the Spirit’, like the fruit grown by a tree, which can feed people and wildlife. From ancient times to today, abundant fruit from an orchard is seen as cause for hope and celebration.
- Altogether, there are nine fruits of the Spirit:
- love (caritas/agape)
- joy (gaudium)
- peace (pax)
- patience (patientia)
- kindness (benignitas)
- goodness (bonitas)
- faithfulness (fides)
- gentleness (mansuetudo)
- self-control (continentia)
- This list is clearly not intended to be an exhaustive description of the fruit, but was given to highlight the fruit that Paul wanted the Galatian Church, and today the wider Church, to keep in mind.
Time for reflection
These fruits, or gifts, are the same as any; they are something to be enjoyed and nurtured. Just as an apple tree in an orchard is nurtured by the farmer and uses rain and sun to grow from a seed to an apple tree, so we must nurture and care for our spirit if we are to gain fully from the gifts that God has given to us. The fruit is not the result of our endeavour, but the gift that is within, which should be developed.
Show the image of the fruit of the Spirit again. Read out each fruit in turn and pause to give the students time to reflect on how this fruit can be seen in their own lives.
Please enable us to recognize the fruit of the Spirit within us.
Please help us to work at growing these qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Please show us and guide us as to how best we can use them for the good of those around us.
‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147)