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Humanitarianism vs the Fruit of the Spirit

Updated on April 6, 2013


Humanitarianism is a religion in itself. In very simple terms, humanitarianism is to be kind and giving to as many as possible, as often as possible and as much as possible. Humanitarianism is an almost identical copy of the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ in that we should love and be kind to one another, and meet one-another's needs. However, pure humanitarianism does not cite Jesus as its source, and many humanitarians do not believe in God. Furthermore, humanitarianism does not come with any kind of supernatural power, such as we see in the life of Christ.

The problem is that many humanitarians do not practice what they preach. Being fair and treating everyone the same regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what they believe is a noble goal. But for many humanitarians this goal is not attained in truth, but only in word.

They tell you that they treat everyone the same kindness and grace, but the idiot that broke into their car is an exception. They tell you that they love all humans regardless of their beliefs, but the bible-thumper next door who tells them they are living in sin doesn't get much love.

The Fruit of the Spirit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22,23)

On a surface level one may read this Bible passage and say that everyone has one or more of these attributes in their life. Everyone loves someone don't they? Everyone has kindness in them to one degree or another, don't they?

The "surface" answer to these questions is yes! Almost everyone has a degree of these attributes in them. Does that mean that everyone has the fruit of the Spirit? Absolutely not.


The first and foremost fruit of the Spirit is love. The New Testament portion of the Bible was written mostly in Greek. When Paul, the apostle, wrote the book of Galatians, he wrote it in Greek, and we have to interpret it into English. However, there are times when there are no sufficient English words to translate a Greek word. Some Greek words do not have a sufficient English equivalent. This is the case with "love".

There are 4 Greek words that all mean "love". Simply reading the word "love' in your bible may or may not give you an accurate picture of the true meaning intended. The following Greek words are all translated "love":

  • Philia - means friendly, or brotherly love. It is a term that you could use to describe the "love" you have for family members, friends, activities, and even objects.
  • Storge - more correctly translated "affection". It is almost always used between family members. It denotes a little more sacrifice than philia. e.g. someone who has affection for someone else regardless of the bad things they may do.
  • Eros - is intimate love. Eros is used of passionate love between lovers, which may or may not include sex.
  • Agape - in modern Greek, agape means "brotherly love". But in ancient Greek it means the deepest and truest form of love. In Biblical Greek agape is used to describe God's unconditional love. This is the love to the utmost degree. It is pure, unconditional love.

The word that is used in the passage of the fruit of the Spirit is agape. In other words, the first and foremost fruit of the Spirit is agape love - God's pure, true, and unconditional love.

Simply stated, the fruit of the Spirit is unconditional love. You know that you have the fruit of the Spirit when you love as God loves. It is not the fruit of humans. It IS the fruit of the Spirit of God. Therefor the love that it is talking about here is the love of the Spirit, the love of God.

How does God love? He loves everyone unconditionally. When one gets to the place of loving everyone (enemies included) unconditionally, then you can truly say you have the fruit of the Spirit. Otherwise, it may be natural human love, which is a completely different thing.


God's joy is unconditional in the same way that God's love is unconditional. Joy is more than happiness. As the light of the sun is stronger than the light of the moon, so joy is stronger than happiness.

God is joyful. It doesn't matter what is happening on this little piece of dust called earth, God is joyful. There is a lot of joy in heaven. Heaven is a joyful place.

Earthly, natural joy in conditional, just like earthly, natural love. If you have a bad day, you don't have much joy. If you are under the weather and things are going all wrong, there is not much joy. Earthly, natural joy, is conditional.

But God's joy is unconditional. God never feels "under the weather".  If someone truly has the fruit of the Spirit with joy, then it doesn't matter what the conditions are, you have JOY! A lot of people experience this kind of joy when they truly get saved! You always have a "glow" about you, even through bad times.

When all goes wrong, and you are in the midst of a storm AND you still have tons of joy, then you just may be experiencing the fruit of the Spirit.


The peace of God is the same way. Just as God's love in unconditional, and God's joy is unconditional, so is God's peace.

God is not worried about anything. God is not fretting about the economy, or the weather, or the outlook of the world. God is not at unrest.

So it is with you, when you have the fruit of the Spirit. Unconditional peace floods your life and soul. It doesn't matter what is happening, you have peace. It doesn't matter what condition you are in, you have peace. That is the fruit of the Spirit - unconditional peace.

And so it goes with all the fruit - forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All of these characteristics are evident in their truest forms by the Spirit, and it is not subject to the conditions around you. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is not subject to conditions. Conditions are subject to Him!

God IS

God does not have love. God IS love.

God does not have joy. God IS joy.

God does not have peace. God IS peace.

As he stated, "before Abraham was. I AM"

The Difference

Humanitarians teach great things. But I have yet to meet a humanitarian without Christ who has the depth of love, joy, peace, and self-control that those who bear the fruit of the Spirit do.

Is it possible to bear the fruit of the Spirit and be a humanitarian? Sure! Spirit filled fruit bearers are humanitarians in the truest sense.

Is is possible to be a humanitarian, and not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Yes! A vast majority fall in this category.

The difference lies in the presence of the Spirit, the depth of the elements (love, joy, peace...), and the unconditionality of them.

Fruit NOT works

The Bible makes a clear distinction between the fruit of the Spirit, and the works of flesh.

What is the difference between fruit and works?

Fruit happens naturally, without effort. Take fruit trees for example. The tree doesn't have to do anything. The fruit tree bears fruit by nature. It happens without effort.

Have you ever seen a tree that had no fruit and someone said, "look.. that tree is lazy! It didn't work this season. How lazy this tree is. It has to work harder next time!"

Fruit comes naturally. It it a product of nature. Just like the flowers of the field in Jesus day, "they neither toil nor spin".

Works of the flesh

Works of the flesh are the opposite. They involve work. It is something that you DO. It is work.

For example, the love of the Spirit is fruit.

Murdering is work of the flesh.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot "work up" God's love.

However, through effort and work one may become a murderer.

How to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit comes by:

  1. Faith in Christ - His virgin birth, death on the cross, and resurrection.
  2. The infilling of the Spirit. You must be filled with the Spirit to be true fruit-bearers
  3. Surrender to the Spirit. You must pray for, and practice true surrender to Him.

The fruit of the Spirit comes by dying to self, and surrendering to Him. Only He can produce the true fruit of the Spirit. It is not something that you work up. It is something that you let happen.

It comes when you humble yourself, and surrender to Him. It is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.


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    • HattieMattieMae profile image


      8 years ago from Europe

      I have to say this has sort of helped me, but fortunately I am a christian and humanitarian and because a pastor basically said Mother Theresa was not true born again christian, I feel divided with my thought to follow christianity in a sense with a group of christians, because i feel that as a Humanitarian you can never please a christian, because you go against what the bible says, so for my to be a true christian would mean that I would have to not help a gay man, or lesbian, or transexual. At the same time I am a social worker, and counselor, so understanding that most holistic counselors and spiritual counselors that are healers go against christianity views. For instance Native american drumming is used in Developmentally handicapped therapy, or a client may make a native american dream catcher. One client might feel that chackra balancing meditation works for them instead of taking medications for various therapies.So there for one as a combination of things I guess I can never truly walk the christian path, because to love others unconditinally in actions and not words, would be to help those untouchable like mother theresa did. My heart will always be centered on God, but to actually be a humanitarian in action and love God, you must be able to walk in the trenches and get yourself dirty to heal the sick, and the blind. If this means I am a sinner to actually help someone that is different because they choose to follow a different spiritual path, who am I to tell them what is right or wrong, and if that path heals them and makes them move in positive directions and not negative ones, I would feel better knowing that person has made progress in improving in their life than if they are left with out a life line because of prejudice and discrimination amongs religions,faiths,cultures, countries, and people. Unconditional love represents loving everyone in action by how getting involved in their lives where others refuse to go there, because they are to worried about going to hell, to help someone get out of an emotional and spiritual hell on this earth!


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