“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22
This is a great checklist of qualities to think of when looking for a significant other. They’re more important than the way a person looks, more important than how much money someone makes, and more important than social status. These qualities make up beautiful character.
The ability to LOVE is one of the most obvious qualities you want in a partner. We can dig deeper into this one, though. It is also important to find someone who loves you in a way you feel loved by them. We each have our own love language, and although you don’t need to match up with your partner, you do need to understand how to make them feel loved, just as they need to understand the best way to love you.
Watching the ways your SO loves others is also a beautiful way to see deep into their soul. Seeing them love people deeply is an indication that the love they have for you, too, is true and won’t fade over time. The Bible calls us to love our neighbors, whether or not we agree with them. In fact, 1 Peter 4: 8 says that “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Above anything else in this world we are called to love people the way Jesus loves us. This is one of the most beautiful things in the Bible, and I can’t even imagine what our world would be like if we all tried to do this.
Being joyful isn’t the same as being happy. As I have mentioned before, I think it’s unrealistic to have a goal to always be happy. If you are a joyful person, you may still be sad sometimes, and even if you are an optimist you don’t always see the bright side in difficult situations. If you take that to the extreme it could be considered delusional.
If you have JOY in your life, though, your heart knows that God is taking care of you, and that you can face the hardships that come your way. Every relationship will have its own trials, and you want someone beside you who can still see the beauty in the world even when it’s pouring down rain.
PEACE in a human is an underrated quality. Peace and patience go hand in hand in many ways, as a peaceful person takes time to think before they speak. Having peace also allows someone to weigh the options before making a decision, and you have ultimate peace when you are able to sit back and trust God with the things you can’t control in your life. This is easily the biggest thing I struggle with in my own life, and a fruit of the spirit I work towards obtaining a little bit of every day.
I think patience is listed right after peace for a reason. Having patience means someone is slow to anger and takes time to think before they speak. They will be kind to others, even when their little human emotion called “frustration” kicks in, and will follow Jesus’ lead of loving others, even when it is difficult to.
PATIENCE is beautiful in a relationship because it allows a couple to grow together. Instead of just taking over a task their partner is having difficulties understanding, they teach them how to do it. Not only does this show your partner how to take care of themselves, but it is also creating a growing experience together. Learning to grow in a relationship is such an important thing, and I strongly believe in being with someone who makes you the very best version of yourself.
Did you notice how “kindness” was incorporated into patience? I think there is great significance to the way this verse was written in the Bible. Each fruit of the spirit gives you a little preview for what’s to come.
KINDNESS is one of my favorite character traits. Being kind is a different thing than just being a nice person. When someone is kind, they don’t expect anything in return. Kindness can be incredibly hard because we are called to be kind to everyone we meet. This includes people who don’t like us, it includes people who have wronged us, and even includes hateful people. Being kind to someone who is not even nice to you can be a really hard thing, and maybe even impossible without prayer and help from God, but being kind to someone who “doesn’t deserve it” is a way to truly change the world.
“GOODNESS” does not mean you are without sin. It is interesting because the third definition of “goodness” includes the word “kindness.” One of the definitions that really stood out for this fruit of the spirit, though, was “virtue.” When you have virtue, you are listening to your moral compass, not only in your words, but also in your thoughts and actions. This does in no way mean you are exempt from sin — we all sin every single day, whether it’s a nasty little thought we have about someone else or it is a physical, more obvious sin.
Being with someone who has character is such an important thing. Realizing that watching pornography isn’t healthy or beneficial for your relationship and can ruin real intimacy, or that stealing from others –even a store — is wrong can help you stay accountable with your partner. We all have our own definitions of what we believe is right and wrong, but for me the Bible is a pretty good handbook. Find someone who has a similar value system to your own and learn to grow from each other and push one another to be better people. You will both surely slip up, as doing the wrong thing is often very tempting and gives us immediate pleasure, but if you have a common mindset you won’t have the same arguments over and over again, rather you can fight the “wrongs” together.
FAITHFULNESS is the building block we build our relationships upon. If we are not faithful to our significant other, there is not a solid foundation in our relationship, period. Being faithful to someone doesn’t just mean not cheating them, but it also means staying by their side when things get tough and having their back. Trust is what you get in a relationship that has complete faithfulness.
I think gentleness in a human is often overlooked. The most gentle people I know aren’t always soft spoken, but the act of GENTLENESS itself is often a quieter one. Being gentle means having a heart that wants to listen to others and learn how to be more empathetic towards them. It is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and loving them regardless of their sins. Gentleness goes hand in hand with patience and kindness, as it is a beautiful mix of the two qualities. When you are gentle to your fellow mankind, you are loving and understanding of them, even if you disagree with their perspective.
Self-control wraps up all of the fruits into a pretty little gift basket. To exhibit any of these traits one must have a great amount of self-control.
Eve gives us a wonderful example of giving into our desires, even when we absolutely know they are harmful. Apples (presumably) are beautiful fruits; I don’t blame her for wanting to try one! Our actions have consequences, though, and one thing I’ve learned from growing up and sinning so much throughout the years is that God’s rules aren’t meant to hurt us — they’re set in place to protect us. Some of the rules protect our hearts, and others protect our bodies. If we all listened to each and every one of God’s rules, the world would be a perfect place. That’s not meant for us right now, though. We are sinful and selfish in our own ways, and all we can really do is try our best and ask ourselves what Jesus would do. We will slip up, but knowing there is Someone who loves us unconditionally no matter how sinful we are is truly the definition of love.
None of these are easy qualities to obtain, which is why they aren’t common, run of the mill character traits. The fruits of the spirit take work, prayer, conscious effort, and the holy spirit to actually come into play in the real world. No matter how hard you work, you will never master all of these traits. In fact, even if you honed in on just one of the fruits of the spirit you wouldn’t come close to living a perfect life.
Whether you have a significant other or not, these are amazing ways to love your fellow humans. The fruits of the spirit should be used with strangers, with friends, with family, and even when loving yourself.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” -Galatians 5:24-26