The Holy Spirit grants us seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. They are divine abilities distributed as God knows to be best for the Mystic Body of Christ. Not every Christian has the same gift, just as not every part of the human body performs the same function (1 Corinthians 12:14-26), but the Christ grows on (Ephesians 4:15-16).
The Bible recognizes nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), and the Catholic Church recognizes twelve traditional fruits: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, humility or gentleness, fidelity or faithfulness, modesty, continence or self-control and chastity. Love, the foremost fruit of the Spirit, is so wonderful that Saint Paul described the ideal Christian in an entire chapter (1 Corinthians 13) to praise love, which is brought to perfection through union with Christ.
Christians bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit when they cooperate with His gifts. Saint Paul wrote: “I want you to desire the best gifts. I will show you a much better way” (1 Corinthians 12:31), to exhort us to create a balance and undertake a correction of spiritual values for increasing resemblance with Christ. Catholics receive the sacrament of Confirmation to practice good deeds, in the state of grace, firmly attached to Christ (John 15:1-8).
The Holy Spirit can suddenly grant His gifts at any stage of a believer’s life. Specific gifts are bestowed upon some believers when they first received the Holy Spirit, and other gifts are imparted at many turning points of the Christian walk (1 Timothy 4:14). Believers may ask for some gifts at any time (1 Corinthians 12:31 and 1 Corinthians 14:13). The Bible is clear: everyone receives the Holy Spirit at the moment the person believes in Christ (Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 1:13-14).
“Live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), not by the “desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:17). As we surrender to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13-14), He leads us (Romans 8:9), and we will have Christ’s mercy and compassion for others and love for God. Saint Paul described some acts of sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies . . . Those who practice these acts will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).