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  • Writer's picturejoel

The Fruit of the Spirit & Locus of Control

Updated: Mar 24, 2023


The fruit of the Spirit is a well-known phrase used in the Christian faith to describe the nine attributes that are produced in the lives of believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit. These attributes, listed in Galatians 5:22-23, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. While these qualities are often seen as virtues to be pursued by Christians, they also have a profound impact on an individual's internal locus of control.


Internal locus of control refers to the belief that one's own actions and decisions are the primary determinants of their life outcomes. In contrast, individuals with an external locus of control believe that external factors, such as luck, fate or other people, are the primary determinants of their life outcomes. Research has shown that having an internal locus of control is associated with numerous positive outcomes, including better mental health, higher achievement in school and work, and greater life satisfaction.


The fruit of the Spirit can impact an individual's internal locus of control in several ways. First and foremost, the fruit of the Spirit fosters a sense of personal responsibility. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all qualities that require intentional cultivation and practice. They are not innate traits that individuals either possess or lack. Rather, they are qualities that must be actively pursued and developed over time.


By focusing on these qualities and intentionally seeking to develop them, individuals can cultivate a sense of personal responsibility for their own character and behavior, regenerate themselves or others for their shortcomings, they can take ownership of their actions and strive to improve themselves in the areas where they are lacking. This sense of personal responsibility is a key aspect of an internal locus of control and can lead to greater feelings of empowerment and control.


In addition to fostering personal responsibility, the fruit of the Spirit also promotes positive emotions and attitudes that can help individuals maintain an internal locus of control. For example, the qualities of love, joy, and peace can all contribute to a positive outlook on life and a sense of emotional well-being. Individuals who possess these qualities are more likely to view challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth and development, rather than as insurmountable obstacles that are outside of their control.


Similarly, the qualities of patience, kindness, and gentleness can all contribute to better interpersonal relationships, which in turn can help individuals feel more in control of their social environment. By treating others with kindness and gentleness, individuals can build strong, supportive relationships that provide a sense of stability and security. This can help individuals feel more in control of their social environment and more confident in their ability to navigate social situations.


The qualities of goodness, faithfulness, and self-control can also contribute to an internal locus of control by promoting a sense of moral and ethical responsibility. Individuals who possess these qualities are more likely to make decisions that align with their values and beliefs, rather than simply reacting to external pressures or influences. This can lead to greater feelings of self-efficacy and control over one's own life outcomes.


It is worth noting that developing the fruit of the Spirit is not a one-time achievement, but rather an ongoing process that requires continual effort and commitment. Just as a fruit tree requires regular pruning and care in order to produce a bountiful harvest, individuals must continue to cultivate these qualities in their lives in order to maintain the positive impact on their internal locus of control.


There are a number of practical steps that individuals can take in order to develop the fruit of the Spirit and strengthen their internal locus of control.


The "fruit" of the Spirit is singular rather than the "fruits" of the spirit (plural). This implies that they are not individually cultivated. They are the results (fruit) that comes along with the presence of the Spirit within. They are a byproduct that comes from living your life at peace with the holy Spirit. The flesh and its selfish desires cannot reside simultaneously in a heart filled with a Spirit. One must yield to the other. Whichever is present will lead the way.


Discipleship happens when we seek community and support from others who are also striving to develop the fruit of the Spirit.

This might involve joining a small group or Bible study, attending a church or spiritual retreat, or simply connecting with like-minded individuals online. By surrounding themselves with others who share their values and goals, individuals can find encouragement and accountability as they seek to develop the fruit of the Spirit in their own lives.


Finally, it is important for individuals to be patient and persistent in their efforts to develop the fruit of the Spirit. While progress may be slow at times, each step forward is a step towards greater personal responsibility, emotional well-being, and moral and ethical responsibility. By committing to the ongoing process of cultivating these qualities in their lives, individuals can experience a profound sense of empowerment and control over their own life outcomes.


The fruit of the Spirit can have a profound impact on an individual's internal locus of control. By fostering personal responsibility, promoting positive emotions and attitudes, and strengthening moral and ethical responsibility, the fruit of the Spirit can help individuals feel more in control of their own life outcomes. While developing these qualities is an ongoing process that requires intentional effort and commitment, the benefits of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit are well worth the investment.


Joel Smith

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