Why We Need Both Spiritual Gifts AND Spiritual Fruit

I’ve never understood the idea that we must choose between spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit. They both originate with Him and depend on our cooperation.

spiritual fruit

Consider the difference between spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit. Here’s a parable: My son has always been above average: even as a child, he entered the terrible-two’s at 18 months. In the three or four days leading up to his second birthday he was nearly impossible to live with: temper tantrums a dozen times a day, unhappy with everything around him. Finally, on the morning of his second birthday I looked at my wife and said, “That’s it! I’ve had it! There will be no birthday party today. Take back all his presents–he doesn’t deserve them.”

Of course, I made that up: who would refuse to give a birthday gift simply because a child was acting, well, childish? Now, years later, my son is in his thirties: married, gainfully employed, following Jesus, and a delight to be around. The child has become a fruitful adult. Although he was a gifted child, he did not yet possess spiritual fruit.

Paul’s letters to young churches mention both spiritual (Galatians 5) and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12). The Heavenly Father is a father of infinite generosity and infinite patience. He gives us what we need, and grows in us what we become. Both actions begin with him. Both actions reflect his character. Yet there are distinct differences between gifts and fruit.

It is too common among North American believers to fixate on one or the other: some believers celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the neglect of Godly character. Others concentrate on the fruit of the Spirit as if the Father has nothing more to give. Of course, we need both. And of course, the Father wants us to have both. No amount of Christian character can fill a supernatural need, and no supernatural power can replace Christlikeness.

I’ve never understood the idea that we must choose between spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit. They both originate with Him and depend on our cooperation. When it comes to the bounty of God’s Kingdom, we are not faced with an either/or choice; we are given a both/and blessing.

 

This article on the difference between spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit originially appeared here, and is used by permission.

Ray Hollenbach
Ray Hollenbach helps pastors and churches navigate change. He's the founder of DEEPER Seminars, weekend leadership retreats focused on discipleship in the local church. His devotional book "Deeper Grace" is available at Amazon.com He currently lives in central Kentucky. He's also the author of of "The Impossible Mentor", a deep dive into the foundations of discipleship.