Fruits of the Spirit: Nine Characters That Embody Christian Living

anime girl apple

Art by ひつじ

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

- Galatians 5:22-23

A few months ago, I left work frustrated and angry.  I was tired and it was a difficult day.  On the way home, I bought fast food and scarfed it down, which is a nasty habit that pops up when I’m stressed (as of this writing, I’m on day 28 of 40 in a prayerful attempt to overcome this vice).  After I went home I felt even worse, weighed down by greasy food and guilt, and was grouchy with my wife and kids.

How many of the characteristics in the verses above do you think I failed to live up to in just that one or two hours?  I count maybe eight:

  1. love
  2. joy
  3. peace
  4. patience
  5. kindness
  6. goodness
  7. faithfulness
  8. gentleness
  9. self-control

Most Christians are familiar with the Galatians verses – they are the “fruits of the Spirit,” as penned by Paul.  These are characteristics that a believer should exhibit as they grow in Christ.  But to be honest, like myself, few Christians can claim that they display all nine fruits, and none can claim that they perfectly do so.

On Beneath the Tangles, much of what we do is based around examining Christians themes by using anime and manga examples.   And on each Wednesday, starting next week with R86′s post on love, we’ll do precisely that as we examine anime and manga characters that embody the fruits of the spirit – one character and one fruit each week.  So please come back and check out this series – and maybe you can also offer examples and provide instances in your life where you either live up to these fruits, or have failed to do so.

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About TWWK

TWWK, known to outlaws and lawmen alike as Charles, lives deep in the heart of Texas, where he drives cattle and boot scoots (not really - though he does sport a pair of rattlesnake boots). Somehow in this frontier, he also finds time for his wife, children, and church. Oh, and anime, too.

Posted on 02.01.2012, in Anime, Christianity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Let’s try this again, as I got linked to somebody else’s profile.
    Can we discuss the context of those scriptures first?

    • Right here? Sure, if you’d like.

      As for the posts, we probably won’t be discussing context much, as instead of referring specifically the Galatians verses, we’ll be describing the concept of each fruit first, before connecting them to an anime or manga character who exhibits the state.

      • Hmm. I’m always suspicious of scripture out of context. I think context is really important. For example, who was st. Paul talking to and why, then how does that apply to the anime character we’re analyzing. I’d love to apply it to the characters in texhnolyze that so many like to minimize.

        • I agree, context is always important – particularly when discussing scripture. For the past five or six years, I worked as a historian and red several hundred narratives a year – and for each, I always emphasized that the writer give context that frames the event, individual, etc. in it’s rightful place.

          The “fruits of the Spirit” verses are part of Paul’s larger attempt to address those in the church who claimed that circumcision was necessary. He spoke about freedom from constraints like this – but that freedom doesn’t mean we can indulge in sin (which is what the verses just previous to the fruits mention). Instead, we should abide by the Spirit.

          The fruits are of the Holy Spirit. One of the Spirit’s activities is to fill us – and these fruits reflect some of the wonderful states we can be filled with, supplement, and demonstrate in our own lives.

          Anime, of course, is populated almost entirely by characters who (if they were real) are not indwelled by the Holy Spirit. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t reflect such characteristics – so we’ll be looking at characters to display these fruits.

          • Wow. I totally disagree with your judgment of anime characters. Do you watch it to dress them down, as it were, from
            A Christian perspective? Perhaps point out what’s wrong, from a Christian perspective? Sure seems like it. Forgive me if I’m reading you wrong.

            • You’re reading me wrong.

              • Really? Then why did you tell the other commentator “it’s been hard?” I could find redeeming qualities in almost all the characters in the animes I’ve seen. I don’t buy that “peopleare beyond redemption” nonsense. It’s not Christian. It’s a lie. Nobody’s beyond redemption.

            • Murasaki Lynna

              I think what Charles was trying to say when he said that “Its been hard” is that there are so many characters that have the characteristics of the fruits of the spirit that it would be hard to choose which ones to write about. It’s not difficult because there’s too few-its difficult because there’s too many.

              • Ok. I misreadit. I apologize!

              • I should probably leave it here…but I feel the need to clarify.

                For certain fruits, there were an abundance (R86 will be doing love – there’s certainly plenty of that to go around!). On the other hand, some were harder, like peace. While lots of characters exhibit peace, they’re like us – imperfect – and don’t always show peace all or most of the time. I’m not looking for examples (that would be really easy) – I’m looking for characters that embody that characteristic – like, you think “peace” when you see that character. And so, also limited by the series I’ve watched (and by wanting to connect with readers by presenting characters they know of), I’ve hard difficulties with some fruits.

  2. This sounds like an awesome series! I think I can guess who one character is certainly going to be (FuruBa all the way!), but I’m attempting to think of others and am coming up blank!

    • Truthfully…it’s been HARD. I have my almost final list now, but it was harder to think of characters to fit the series than I thought it would be. And I’m guessing that with at least one post, I’ll probably start with one character and then rewrite with a different!

      • I’m sure! I’d be doing the exact same thing.

        Hrm. As for my own issues with ‘fruits of the spirit’… I’m quickly running out of patience when I ask one friend over to dinner. Each time for the last few months that I have, she’s invited her boyfriend, whom I did not invite. The next time, both of them are being turned away from the door, because I simply am not comfortable with him (especially since my friend is okay talking about topics in front of him that I’m…. NOT).

        • That’s not so bad…in fact, that might be a good thing! After all, unlimited patience isn’t necessarily good – righteous indignation and all. I’m reminded of Jesus and the money collectors.

          • That makes sense. Eventually, one has to speak up for themselves.

            Hrm… Well, I lose my temper with my mother really easily. My brother says we’re so alike that we get irritated with another quickly since we see our own faults in each other. And I think he’s right. So when I’m with her I need to make concious decisions to be pleasant and act nicely for longer than two hours.

            • Great example – family sees our faults most clearly. For instance, maybe my greatest strength at work is communicating with difficult people; I’m considered to be very patient. At home, my wife and kids know that I’m incredibly impatient.

  3. Fruits of the spirit. These are meant to be outward manifestations and effects of when the Holy Spirit changed us into a new creation. Unfortunately, we still do things we hate because of the sin nature in us. It is that struggle and the battle we are engaged in which causes all of us to stumble. Thank goodness that we have a perfect example to look to and a helper to help us up and guide us on.

    I am super excited for those posts. It sounds wonderful.

    I completely agree with what you said about anime characters. Most, if not nearly all, anime characters have earthly perspective and show no evidence of this kind of inward change. This sometimes causes issues, because we are supposed to put in what is in Philippines 4:8, but most anime is full of the things of Colossians 3:5.

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

    • You bring up an interesting issue and a very important one – what’s okay for a Christian to consume and what’s not. We fans of anime are more on the liberal side – even if we’re careful of what we watch. The more conservative Christians might only want explicitly Christian media (or nothing at all).

      • We are a bit more liberal. I believe that God can use anything to speak to us, including anime. When ever I finish an anime series or an episode that really effects me, I spend a lot of time talking with God about it.

        As far a the more conservative side of the argument goes, I have a hard time understanding why some christians try to create sacred vs. secular labels. If we are meant to live in this world, how can we who are not of it, relate to those who are if we try to completely cut ourselves off from it. Didn’t Jesus tell us to go make disciples of all nations? There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female for all are one in Christ Jesus. What about otaku? How can christians reach a group that they are scared to be associated with? This kind of conservatism bugs me. “We now have enough faith to believe that God can save our soul, but not enough to believe he can change the world. -Can’t remember who said this.”

        Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”-Matthew 28:18-20

        There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galations 3:28

        Note: I am not saying that we should go consume everything, instead we must guard what we put in. Sin is sin and we are supposed to be dead to it. So we don’t want to put in things that will tempt us or will pervert what we believe.

        • Yeah, I pretty much have the same point of view as you.

          Certainly, you can’t develop relationships with people unless you understand their culture; you can’t understand a culture unless you experience it; and you can’t experience a culture if you’re so prideful that you shut it out. We’re to bring the love of Christ to the world – not judgment and condemnation.

          Unfortunately, the immediate reaction from many Christians, and even oftentimes myself, is indeed, judgment.

          And on the other hand, our homes are with Christ, and it’s easy to lose sight of that goal and become the culture. Right now, I’m struggling a bit with watching Nisemonogatari, for instance. Some fan service, I can live with, but no matter how sophisticated the directors are in how they approach fan service, the series has crossed levels that I’m not at all comfortable with. Here is an instance where I should probably draw the line – at the very least, as you infer, be prayerful about it and other shows I watch.

          • I very much agree. In fact, I am going to have to drop Inu x Boku Secret Service because of the contents of the show. I am also having to real debate with myself on some others.

  4. Every single day we fail to show the fruits of the Spirit perfectly… and that’s why we need a Savior.

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