Love: a Fruit of the Spirit


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The Bible is clear: if you are Christian, then you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you… buried below layers of body and soul (Romans 8:9-11).  He’ll always be there – never leaving or forsaking you (Hebrews 13:5).  In fact, the Apostle Paul even sarcastically reminds a church that has forgotten of the  Spirit’s presence (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Truly, the Spirit has residency in every believer… but not always presidency.  The battle that every Christian fights is not won or lost by whether we get more of God (we’ve already got all He’s going to give: 100%), the real issue is whether or not God will get more of us!  [*Note:  If you are not a Christian, you might start here first.]

“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

To walk in the Spirit is to give Him influence, power, and control.  It is to allow God to make our way, moving us where He wants us to go.  It is a pattern of often yielding to the light (Ephesians 5:8-10).  “IF” is the key here.  This is not our default setting, to let go and let God.  IF we yield the driver’s seat, IF we let go of the helm and let the Wind blow, IF we step down from our heart’s throne, THEN and only then will we not end up doing what our sensual nature craves.  THEN we will be able to say to no the dictates of our fleshly appetites and sinful instincts. If we do not walk in the Spirit, then will our end be certainly regret and guilt.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” Galatians 5:22

The word ‘love’ conjures up so man different things today.  A modern dictionary lists 28 various uses for the word: tender affection, warm attachment, intimate passion,  strong predication,  & amorous benevolence.  Yet not of these are complete to define / describe what the Bible speaks of as a fruit of the Spirit.  Three words for love are used in the Bible: eros (sensual attraction/passion), phileo (brotherly kindness), and agape (God-like love).  The fruit of the Spirit is, you guessed it, agape love.  It is the highest form of love, found only in God, because of God, and from God (1 John 4:7).  Anything else is something else – a counterfeit, a substitute, a fake.

The Great Gardener
Relax, this fruit is something we can’t produce.  It doesn’t come through self-effort, nor is it earned – so stop trying!  It is only the result of allowing the Spirit to move in and influence us.  It is the effect of God Almighty’s powerful work in and through us when we let Him.  It his totally Him.  So, take a load off… you cannot manufacture this kind of love.  It cannot be reproduced by desire, drive, or determination.  It only comes from a life surrendered to the spiritual cultivations of the Great Gardener.  It is not your fruit in Him, but it is His fruit in you.  Let me be as clear as possible: it is not your job to try to emulate or duplicate God’s love, as close as possible.  It is your job to surrender to the Gardener, the Holy Spirit, and let Him grow the fruit in you!

Agape love: ‘an unconditional commitment to actively pursue & secure the good of another through sacrificial behavior.’  (Courtesy of Dr. John Lapp)

Unconditional
Even a quick reading of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 reveals how little we know about agape.  “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (v7)  These characteristics of a no-strings-attached, no-ifs-ands-or-buts kind of love is simply not the norm in our society today.  God loved us when we were unlovely.  He has promised to love us no matter what.  His love is unconditional… a covenant.  Business contracts can be broken if one party doesn’t fulfill their part of the agreement.  Thank God that His love, His grace, and salvation are not just contracts… they are unconditional covenants!

Commitment
Some say that love is an emotion, an uncontrollable feeling.  That’s true of eros and phileo, but not of agape… it’s a decision.  If it were not a choice, then Christ could not have commanded it.  In John 15:12, he challenges his followers to love in the same way that He has: with an unconditional commitment.  Marriage vows are not as honest as they used to be.  Why don’t the bride and groom just say, ‘Until I find out he’s got a gambling problem’ or ‘Until she gets on my last nerve’  ?  Tragically, statistics are saying that for over 50% of couples, that’s what they should have said.

to Actively Pursue & Secure to the Good of Another
Love isn’t really love until it is demonstrated.  The truest sense of love is not found as a noun – but as a verb!  It is the action of need-meeting.  In the Bible, there is not one single case of a person who loved with agape love without some form of service, labor, or procedure.  Not one.  The Apostle of Love said it this way: “let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth… hereby we know that we are of the truth.” (1 John 3:18-19)

through Sacrificial Behavior
This is the story of the cross.  “For God so loved the word, that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16)  Emptying your tank to fill up another.  Giving your best to someone who needs it more.  Expecting nothing in return.  The Father did this by offering His Son, the Son did this by offering Himself to you… How will you do this for your friend, coworker, or neighbor? Christ set forth a very controversial way of life (Luke 6:27-36): ‘love your enemies, pray for the ones who use you, help those who take advantage of you, share with those in need, treat others the way you want to be treated.’ And to top it all off: ‘expect nothing in return.’ We might say, ‘Preposterous!  How is one to live if he is giving all he has away?’  Simple, God shall provide him more than before! (v38)

Loving God, Loving Others
Matthew 22:37-39 record the Two Great Commandments.  All the Do’s and Don’ts that Moses and the Prophets had to say could be summed up in these two statements.  Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
– Heart – Love God sincerely, without being forced
– Soul – Love God emotionally, with your feelings
– Mind – Love God thoughtfully, with imagination

“Do you love me?”
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love (agape) me more than these?”  Do you choose me above these friends? Are you committed to me more than these nets and fish?  Peter: “Yes, Lord.  You know I love (phileo) you.”  I am your friend.  You know I like you.”

Jesus asked Peter again, “Do you love (agape) me?”  Are you committed to me, unconditionally?    Peter: “Yes, Lord.  You know I love (phileo) you.”  I am your friend, we are very close.  You know I like you.”

The third time, Jesus asked Peter a different question, “Do you love (phileo) me?”  Are you my friend? Do you like me really?  Peter: “Lord, You know everything. You know I love (phileo) you.” This time Peter was troubled; the Lord used a word He didn’t normally use – the human word for love: phileo.  It struck Peter to the heart.  Ask yourself the same question: Is my love for God a natural, human kindness or do I love Him according to God’s nature through Jesus?  Is your love earthly or divine?

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