Do you make choices with your head or heart? In the kingdom of God, the fruit of the Spirit encompasses both emotion and reason, as people throughout the Bible learned when they followed God’s call.
LOVE: Joseph had every legal right to abandon Mary when she became pregnant, yet he wed her, providing Jesus with a loving earthly father and stable home. Mary, well aware of the consequences of an illegitimate pregnancy, agreed to give birth to Jesus and supported him beyond his death (Luke 1; Matt. 1).
JOY: Elizabeth’s barrenness was considered a sign of divine reproach by her neighbors. Can you imagine the joy she felt when she held John for the first time? Or Zechariah’s feelings of thankful triumph when he publicly prophesied at the boy’s dedication (Luke 1:57–65)?
PEACE: The prophet Elisha prevented a massacre when he fed his enemies, thus paving the way for a Syrian-Israelite agreement (2 Kings 6:18–23).
By diplomatically calming David, Abigail prevented a needless slaughter between his soldiers and her foolish husband Nabal (1 Sam. 25:23–31).
PATIENCE: For decades Simeon and Anna had hoped for a sign of God’s love in the midst of political oppression. Their faithfulness was rewarded in the flesh when they encountered Jesus, Joseph, and Mary at the temple (Luke 2:22–38).
KINDNESS: Despite great personal risk, Rahab of Jericho protected and counseled the two invading Hebrew spies (Josh. 2:1–21). Barnabus mentored John Mark after Paul had dismissed the young man from his missionary team (Acts 13:13, 15:36–39).
GOODNESS: Generosity was important in the early church. Tabitha provided tailoring services and clothing to those in need (Acts 9:36–43). Cornelius, a Roman centurion who worshipped God, was a strong supporter of the Jewish poor (Acts 10:1–2). Both received life-changing miracles.
FAITHFULNESS: Year after year, Elkanah and Hannah traveled to Shiloh to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts. Their dedications were rewarded with the birth of their six children, including Samuel (1 Sam. 1, 2:21).
GENTLENESS: Ananias was told to meet Saul of Tarsus, a feared persecutor of believers. Instead of anger or recrimination, he brought welcoming words and a healing touch (Acts 9:10–19). Breaking royal decree and risking her father’s anger, Pharaoh’s daughter rescued the infant Moses and raised him as her own (Exod. 2:1–10).
SELF-CONTROL: God entrusted Jeremiah to prophesy during great social upheaval, but also asked him to remain single and celibate when his friends and neighbors were marrying and raising families (Jer. 16:1–2). When God commanded that the wall around Jerusalem be rebuilt after exile, Shallum’s daughters worked on one section, enduring dire threats and persevering in spite of physical danger (Neh. 3:12, 4:10, 4:15).