Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference?

We know from Scripture that there are nine gifts of the Spirit, which initially began to be given to the church on the day of Pentecost, and are initially given in the life of a believer when he or she is baptized in the Holy Spirit.   We also know there are nine fruit of the Spirit that are found in the life of a disciple who walks in the Spirit.  But what is the difference between the fruit and the gifts?

Gifts of the Spirit
The spiritual gifts are manifestations (1 Cor 12:7).  The Greek word for manifestations is phanerosis, which means a shining forth or showing forth. They are given for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). They can be divided into three types, which include: the speaking gifts (tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy), the knowing gifts (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits) and the power gifts (faith, healing, miracles).  I'm not just listing these as if I only knew about them from a textbook, but I've been blessed to have seen them all in operation over the past nearly three decades. And to anyone who thinks that the gifts ceased after the first century, I've got news for you, my friend.  They are still genuinely in operation today, just as they were in the early church.

The spiritual gifts are the work of one Spirit and He gives them as He determines (1 Cor 12:11). Depending on which part of the body we are, we each have different gifts (1 Cor 12:27).  These include apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, those with gifts of healing, those who help others, those with gifts of administration, those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

Some gifts are greater than others (1 Cor 12:31), so they are not all equal.  Prophecy builds up the church (1 Cor 14:3).  Tongues will build up the person speaking in tongues (1 Cor 14:4).  You need to build yourself up, especially during your personal prayer time with the Lord.  But you should also fervently desire the greater gifts, so that you can build others up (1 Co 12:31).

The spiritual gifts are signs, which the Lord performs on the earth (Acts 2:17-19). They are evidence that the Holy Spirit has come upon us and given us power to be His witnesses (Ac 1:8).  They are evidence that we have been filled with the Spirit (Ac 2:4).

And the gifts are not revoked once they are given (Rom 11:29). Once the Lord gives you a gift, he doesn’t take it back.  But the Word tells us that the spiritual gifts are only temporary in that they will one day all cease and be stilled (1 Cor 13:8-12).   This is not true of the fruit, which we’ll examine next.

Culinary fruit. Picture by Bill Ebbesen
Fruit of the Spirit
First of all, the fruit of the Spirit are the Holy Spirit’s fruit found in the life of the believer.  They are not our own fruit or they would be called the "fruit of the disciple" instead of "fruit of the Spirit." 

We can do nothing without the Lord, and it is only as we remain in Him that we bear any fruit (Jn 15:5). The fruit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23).

If you’d like a way to summarize the fruit of the Spirit, here is how.  They are summed up in love, which sums up the whole law and the prophets (Gal 5:14). Love is the most excellent way (1 Cor 13:31). Love is proven true by its actions, not by feelings (1 Cor 13:4-7).

Jesus said we would know people by their fruits not their gifts (Mat 7:16-23). People will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love (Jn 13:35). The fruit are evidence of godly character in a disciple’s life, because the can only grow out of a life that is dead to self and that lives by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 24, 25).

Someone might mistakenly think that they need to produce the fruit of the Spirit in order to be saved, but that would not be correct.  The Scriptures say we are saved by grace and not by our works (Eph 2:8).  But once we are saved, we should produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Ultimately at the judgment, the test that will determine whether we truly know the Lord will be the fruit found in our lives (Matt 25:31-46).  Those who merely function in the gifts, but do not obey the commands of Jesus Christ, will be eternally separated from God (Mt 7:21-23).  It's the ones who hear the Word of God and act on it that will be able to stand in the judgment.

There is an eternal aspect to the fruit.  It never fades away or fails.  The fruit of faith, hope, and love will remain long after the gifts like prophecy and tongues have ceased (1 Co 13:8, 13). 

Putting it All Together
The spiritual gifts include: tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith, healing, and miracles. Having the gifts manifested in our lives is not the ultimate test of discipleship  (1 Cor 12:31 – 1 Cor 13:1-3). 

So we know that a person has once been filled with the Holy Spirit by the gifts we see manifested in his life. But the way we know if someone is living his life by the Spirit is by observing the fruit in his life.  Those fruit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And while we should eagerly desire the greater gifts, so that we can build up the Body, we should be most concerned that we walk in the love of God.

The gifts are primarily tools that God has given us to stimulate faith in others and to minister to them.  However, in order to live your life in such a way that is pleasing to Him, you must bear fruit.

Without the fruit of love growing out of our hearts, everything else would be worthless. The fruit of faith, hope, and love will remain long after the gifts like prophecy, tongues and word of knowledge have ceased.

I'm thankful for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that He has manifested in my life, but even more thankful for the fruit.

Image credit: Culinary fruit. Picture by Bill Ebbesen. Courtesy Wikimedia.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Fruit in Every Season, as well as the companion poem to that message written by my eighteen year old daughter Charity Lacroix, also called Fruit in Every Season (the poem). You are also invited to read my articles, The Wardrobe of the Saints, Baptized with the Spirit, The River of God, Obedience by the Spirit, Faith Works!, Ezekiel Moses' Testimony of Heaven and Hell, Multiplication, The Kingdom of God is Like This, Living a Life Worthy of the Lord, Aim for Perfection, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Being a Witness for Christ, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, and Covenant Prayer. You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.


  1. Its right......... I am agree with Nikki.
    Rev Dr Rahul Uthwal

  2. Excellent post. Thank you, Thank you Len Lacroix !

    1. RichyRich, thanks for reading and commenting. Blessings!

    2. Richy, I would like to invite you to attend Doulos Training School, opening on September 1 for all who are interested in online distance education in discipleship! See link for details at

  3. Replies
    1. Dear Gaston, yes. Faith, as in faithfulness, is a fruit of the Spirit. It's the normal growth of the faith that each believer must have to be saved. But the gift of faith, is the supernatural ability to trust God for something specific, such as a miracle, a healing, or a revelation.

  4. 1 Corith 13:8 talks about seizing of prophecies, tongues and knowledge passing away. has this happened after the completion of compilation of the bible or is still to happen

    1. Dear Estella, you are referring to a false teaching called the cessation theory. The Holy Spirit is alive and well and He is actively distributing His gifts to the members of Christ's Body as He wills. We can testify to it firsthand.

  5. God bless you Man of God...I am richly refreshed... Pastor Victor Ekpott

    1. Dear Brother Victor, you're welcome. Please prayerfully consider the following for yourself or others you know.

      The Lord bless you!


    1. Dear brother, you're welcome. God bless you, too.

  7. This teaching is a very wonderful one,am blessed so much and it's an eye opener for me because of what I learnt from it,you are blessed sir.