From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Of all the passages in the Bible that sketch the character of Christ and the fruit that His Spirit brings to our lives, none is more compact than Galatians 5:22–23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
What a marvelous passage to memorize. These nine words can be divided into three clusters. The first is love, joy, and peace—these speak of our Godward relationship. The second cluster is long-suffering (patience), kindness, and goodness—especially seen in our relationship with others. The third cluster of faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are especially seen in our inward relationship—the attitudes and actions of the inner self.
These three “clusters” are all related to each other, and all should characterize our lives. And all will characterize our lives when we abide in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us, bringing glory to the Father in Heaven.
No matter how else we bear our testimony for the Lord, the absence of love nullifies it all. There should be no more distinctive mark of the Christian than love. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
God’s greatest demonstration of love was at the cross where He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Since we are to love as God does, His children should demonstrate such love by sharing this Good News that Jesus came to save the lost. Love is, therefore, an act of the will—and that is why our wills must first be yielded to Christ. The more we follow Him, the more we will be like Him.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)