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Matt Perman, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 88:

Yes — and this goes to the heart of this book. Most of the time when people look at the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22 – 23), they think in terms of character qualities. The fruit of the Spirit, it is thought, is about who you are, not what you do.

I certainly do not want to dispute the primacy of character in the Christian life. That is one of the key themes of this book: Who we are is more important than what we do, and the true basis of effectiveness in our lives is not strategies and techniques but character. But character always manifests itself in action (see, for example, James 3: 13 – 18), and it turns out that the fruit of the Spirit does apply to what we do as well as who we are.

For, as we’ve seen, being productive is about doing good for others — creatively, competently, and abundantly. Understood in this sense, productivity is indeed a fruit of the Spirit, for this is actually the meaning of “kindness,” which Paul lists as one of the chief fruits of the Spirit.

We often think of kindness in rather dull terms — simply as being “nice.” But as Jonathan Edwards points out in his book Charity and Its Fruits, to be “kind” doesn’t simply mean to be nice. Rather, it means to be proactive in seeking good for others. It means to be free and liberal in doing good. Hence, when Paul says that “love is kind,” he means, as Edwards summarizes, that love “will dispose us freely to do good to others.”

As we’ve seen, that’s exactly what productivity is. Hence, productivity is indeed a fruit of the spirit.

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