Galatians 5:22-23 is one of the most beloved passages in the Bible. The "fruit of the Spirit" has also been misinterpreted as characteristics that believers should somehow manufacture in their lives. But the key to understanding these qualities is in the name. "Fruit" is the natural result of growth. And "of the Spirit" explains exactly Who causes that growth—it’s not our striving or straining, but the power of the Holy Spirit. No amount of human toil or gritty determination can produce spiritual fruit, but the Spirit’s influence in a yielded heart can work miracles. The fruit of "love" may be the best example. We cannot produce the type of love God desires without the leading and strength of the Holy Spirit.
The English word love has very broad meaning, but the Greek language was very precise. The love which the Holy Spirit manifests in believers is agape. This love is not a feeling, but a choice. It is the choice to be kind, to sacrifice, to consider another’s needs greater than one’s own (Philippians 2:3). Agape is used in all of the “hard” love verses in the New Testament:
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
"For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (1 John 3:11).
“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” (Luke 6:35).
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).
It is because of love that God carried out His plan to save the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is only by love that we can keep the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).
Love is the greatest gift God can give. First Corinthians 13 says that agape is patient. Agape is kind. Agape never fails. God desires to show His perfect, selfless love to a world that is routinely confused about what true love is. God’s children are the conduits of His love, as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.