‘Fruit of the Spirit’ is a phrase found in Galatians 5:22 -23 ESV, and it talks about the differences in lives and how one can lead it better by following the Holy Spirit. The verse goes: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The nine fruits of the Spirit described in Christianity are:
These verses are intended to direct people to lead a meaningful life and lay the character traits that one must possess or seek to imbibe to get closer to God. It emphasizes seeking happiness for oneself and also for those surrounding us. The nine qualities aim to improve the different aspects of life to evolve into better human beings. Learn more about the fruits of the Spirits and how to teach them to kids.
What Are the Fruits of the Spirit?
Before explaining the fruits of the Spirit to kids, it is important to familiarize yourself with the depth of each of them.
The first fruit, love, is more than just a feeling. It can be aptly said that the rest of the fruits will follow where there is love. The most important thing for a Christian is to love God, love himself and others. The more kids learn about love, the more they learn to show it to others. From family members to friends to strangers, they will radiate the love that will then reflect. Teaching children to love everyone will help them realize that not everyone is like them.
Happiness is different from joy. Happiness is temporary and dependent on circumstances. Joy stays with one forever. Joy is something that spreads. The Bible says, “My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. Whenever you do, think of it as pure joy.” Even when struggles come, you may feel sad or disappointed. But joy will be present.
John 16:33 ESV says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The idea is to accomplish peace for oneself to help others stay peaceful.
Patience is a quality that everyone struggles with- young, youth, old, wealthy, or poor. It is an ability to develop even when things take time or do not happen the way you want to. Proverbs in the Bible say, “A person with a bad temper stirs up conflict. But a person who is patient calms things down.” Patience is difficult but a virtue once one attains it.
A very popular trait, kindness, can be found on posters, campaigns, t-shirts, and on every corner. The concept comes from God, who is the creator of kindness. The most simple way to explain kindness is to be nice. Random acts of kindness are the best way to inculcate it and spread cheer around. The Bible says, “In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you.”
Goodness is something that follows kindness. Everyone knows that good is the opposite of being bad. The Bible prophecies that God wants his disciples to be good. Christians need to know and have the desire to be good. One should show goodness whenever there is an opportunity.
God meant everyone to be faithful and committed to something or someone. Bible defines, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see.”
The opposite of being harsh is being gentle. To be gentle is being kind, calm, and composed in one’s demeanor. Gentleness must be reflected in how one speaks, acts, and behaves. Proverbs in the Bible say how one’s speech could go right or wrong. A proverb says, “A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Self-explanatory self-control is the final fruit. It isn’t easy to practice as it takes a lot of effort to imbibe it. Once again, the Bible says, “You are tempted in the same way as all other human beings are. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.” This verse can cure a lack of self-control.
How Would You Teach Fruit of the Spirit to Kids?
Explaining the fruit of the Spirit to kids is not simple. Kids do not understand the values of life and the preaching of religion. It can be taught and inculcated by slowly getting them to understand the importance of life. The best way to explain it to kids is by engaging them in activities or exercises that will convey the message. A few ways to teach the fruit of the Spirit to kids are:
1. Show by being a role-model
Kids learn best by observation. If you show and express your love to your parents, they will learn to love you. If you display random acts of kindness like donating clothes, helping the needy, or helping someone cross the road, they will learn that such acts make others happy and can spread joy and cheer. It will also help them learn patience, gentleness, and self-control.
Anything stays in the mind when it is constantly reiterated and reinforced. E.g., if your child shows signs of anger or aggression, talk to them instead of reprimanding them. Each time they get angry, speak to them about how staying calm and patient is important. Give them time to calm down and breathe. Once they are calm, speak about how their goodness could bring out the goodness in others.
3. Help children practice
Children come across several situations in their daily life. These values can be communicated to them every moment of their day. For example: if your child finds their friend struggling to go to school, encourage them to be a good friend. Ask them to show their faithfulness and tell them how this could help their friend. If they find it hard to wait at the bus stop for the bus, tell them that there are pressing circumstances that cause delay. Explain that the fruit of waiting is always positive.
4. Make it a part of your day-to-day life
Make sure that every scenario in your daily life – right from waking up in the morning to bedtime is surrounded and dependent on the fruits of the Spirit. For example: when you are in a supermarket, explain how important it is to speak to the staff gently and kindly. Explain that even though they are not close family or friends, they are helping us in small ways and making our lives richer and better.
5. Pretend play
The best way to teach kids is to pretend play. For example, when playing with them, try to be a bad person and encourage them to help you change your ways. Keep mentioning the importance of being good and ask them to communicate it to register in their minds.
6. Use stories
Stories can get children to understand moral values and beliefs. Pick a good book on Bible stories or Aesop Fables and spend some time reading to them during the day. Set aside some time to learn life lessons. Bedtime is always a great time to read such stories that will make an impact and also play in their dreams.
7. Create opportunities
Practical demonstrations are the best way to teach children about good things. Apart from instances in daily life, you can also create opportunities. By doing something yourself, you are setting a precedent or setting a family tradition that will be carried on. This makes sure that the values are passed on.
8. Correct them
Children will make mistakes as they may not always remember things. Instead of rebuking them, reiterate the Fruits of the Spirit concept and tell them the benefits of following the path. For example: if they are rude to their sibling, explain that they only allow someone to become angry. But by being calm and peaceful, they could get the other person to respond sensitively.
9. Appreciate them
Children love praise. It is important to appreciate them when they display any good behavior that reflects the values of the fruits of the Spirit. Never miss an opportunity to link their good behavior to the value that they demonstrate.
A valuable lesson for children, the fruit of the Spirit is a great road map for life. Shaping values around the nine values and qualities help children become good human beings and responsible community members. They become the source of inspiration for others and help them tread the right path.