Orthodox America

  Fruits of the Spirit

On the fiftieth day after holy Pascha, or the Bright Resurrection of Christ, the holy Church commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. In celebrating this day, we Orthodox Christians gather in church and pray that the Holy Spirit will come down upon all of us believers in Christ and that, having come to dwell in us, He would direct our thoughts and the desires of our hearts and guide all our actions unto the salvation of our souls.

      The grace-giving power of the Holy Spirit is essential to our salvation; all that is good and holy we can accomplish only with the help of this divine power. The Holy Spirit produces within us various spiritual fruits which the Apostle Paul enumerates as nine: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, charity, faith, meekness, temperance. By these fruits one can recognize those in whom dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      Apostle Paul gives the first sign of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit as love. But what kind of love? Love for the world and the good things of the world? No, this love repels. Love not the world, says another Apostle, neither the things that are in the world (I John 2:15). What love does the Apostle mean here? Love for God and one's neighbor. If we love God, the Creator of all, with all our soul, with all our strength; if we love ardently, always doing what is pleasing to Him, fulfilling His commandments, always praying to Him, and also love our neighbor with a pure love, sincere, unselfish-this is a sure sign that within us dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      A second sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is joy. But what kind of joy? Again, it is not a worldly joy. When a man rejoices over the misfortune of his enemy, or when he takes revenge on him or grows rich at his expense, or when he gives himself over to worldly amusements and consolations, this joy is not grace-filled but simply worldly. Grace filled joy is experienced by that man who rejoices on learning, for example, that an innocently slandered person is acquitted, that truth has triumphed; rejoices when a sinner turns from his sins; rejoices when he has an opportunity to help a neighbor in need. Likewise, when a man rejoices that he was born of Orthodox parents in a Christian country, that he came to know the true God, that he has in the heavens before the throne of God an intercessor--the very Son of God, that through His merit his sins are forgiven, and that in belonging to the Orthodox Church of Christ, he can always and at all times take advantage and profit from its grace-giving Holy Mysteries for renewal, enlightenment and complete justification with the hope of not being deprived of eternal blessings and of being saved from the eternal torments of hell. In such a person dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit

      A third sign of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit is peace, or an undisturbed conscience. He whose thoughts are well-ordered and harmonious; he whose desires are restrained, whose passions are subdued and whose intentions are governed by reason; he whose actions are conducted in conformity with the law of God; he whose time is not wasted and who does not miss an opportunity to do good; in whose heart there is no malice, nor enmity, nor avarice; such a person possesses peace of soul, and he who has such peace is filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      A fourth sign of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit is long-suffering. Man must experience many privations misfortunes and sorrows which arise from various causes. But he who patiently endures all these, who docs not complain about oppressive poverty, who does not repay his enemies evil for evil and forgives them all offenses, who magnanimously bears illnesses and family disturbances; he who, enduring his griefs, consoles himself with the thought that misfortunes are allowed by God for our good ... such a man demonstrates by his long-suffering that within him dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit. 

       The fifth sign of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit is kindness. If someone has in his heart a feeling of goodwill, so that he is ready to serve all men--without first trying to decide if he is friend or foe, who is condescending to those of low estate and respectful to those of higher state, who is friendly to his equals, pleasant in conversation, joyful in his interaction with others; in a word, he who considers it his duty, to do good to others--in such a man the Holy Spirit surely dwells.

       The sixth sign of the indwelling of the grace of the Holy Spirit is charity. He who feels in his heart a constant and intense compassion towards the poor, towards all those who hunger and thirst or are naked, towards prisoners, and in general towards all those who are suffering; in a word--he who takes an active interest in all human needs, who is compassionate and ready to help and does indeed--in this person dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit.

       The seventh sign of the presence in a man of the grace of the Holy Spirit is faith, he who believes, as the Orthodox Church of Christ teaches, i.e., who believes in the Triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one essence of a worshipped Creator, Providence and Saviour; he who believes in the Holy Scriptures as the word of God; who believes in one holy and catholic and apostolic Church; who believes in the immortality of the human soul, in the future reward at the resurrection of the dead and in the life of the age to come; in a word--he who has in his soul such a gift of faith, in him dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit.

       The eighth sign of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit is meekness. He who does not repay evil for evil, and not only does not wish evil to his offender but even prays for them and is ready to serve and to yield to all--in him dwells the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      The ninth sign of the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit is temperance. He who refrains from excessive eating and drinking and immoderate sleep; who refrains from vain words from anger, malice, cunning and evil and from all other passions warring against the soul: in such a person dwells, of a surety the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      But the person who does not possess these fruits of the Holy Spirit--love, joy, peace, longsuffering kindness, charity, faith, meekness, temperance---in such a person the grace of the Holy Spirit is not active, and there is no spiritual life in him.

      Let us call out to the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit: "Come and abide in us and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls from death, O Good One." 

(Translated from Pravoslavnaya Zhizn, May, 1969; Jordanville, NY)