Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Love

The Bible tells us there are 9 characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22.  The first fruit of the Spirit is love.  Actually all the other 9 can be summed up in love.  It seems to be the most important. 

What is love?  Love is being unselfish, having brotherly concern for another, and denying self.  It is being loyal.  It is holding others in high esteem.  It is building them up not tearing them down.  It is being a friend.  It’s wanting the best for someone.  God wants us to learn how to love Him, love ourselves, love one another, and even love our enemies.

We as humans have a problem when it comes to loving one another.  That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to flow through us and enter into our personalities then we can really and truly live up to God’s command to love others.

Jesus promised that when He left this earth He would send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit.  He could not physically stay so He sent His replacement. (John 16:7).  His Spirit would continue to do His work.  “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”John 16:8.  The Spirit is here to guide and direct us so we will do what is right in God’s eyes.  He will show us how to love.  We are to live by the Spirit so as to not gratify our desires of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:16). 

Is the Holy Spirit present in your life?  We cannot see or touch the Holy Spirit.  If He is present, He will be in our minds.  Call it your conscience if you want.  God wants us to live by the fruit of the Spirit and not live in our sinful nature.  Living in a sinful nature is: sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, selfishness, envy, drunkenness, etc. (Gal. 5:19-20).  If we all loved, there would be no desire to do evil.  1 Cor. 13 sums up what it means to love.  In fact it’s called the “love chapter”.  Love is the greatest gift God can give.

Love is patient,
Love is kind and not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant,
Love does not act unbecomingly;
Love does not seek its own
Love is not provoked,
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails… - (1 Cor. 13)

There are two types of love:  the feeling love and the willing love. 

The feeling of love is when you are in love your spouse.  It is when you really, really like something.  We use the word love very loosely.  We say ‘I love chocolate’.  It is to love our own desires and not think of others.

The willing love means we join our will to God’s will.  It means that we consent to God’s commands and want things only if God wills it.  God is entitled to our love.  He gave Himself for us while we were terrible sinners and undeserving.  He laid down His life for us.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”John 3:16.  We are to love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 13:31).  Do you find it hard to love that awful person at work or that mean neighbor next door?  He is lazy.  He is rude.  He is very rich and doesn’t deserve all that he has.  He is a cheater and a bully.  God has given him this position in life.  God has given him the gifts he has.  God has given him free will.  You are not to think harsh thoughts about him, but content with what you have.  God loves him just as much as He loves you.  You yourself are not perfect.  You are rebellious, selfish, and commit many sins.  “There is no one righteous, not even one.”Rom. 3:10.  Neither he nor you deserve God’s love.  We are to love our enemies and even pray for them. (Luke 6:27-36).  God didn’t say to love the world, but to love one another.

God made us in His image and likeness.  God is love.  We are to love God and obey His commands.  God commands us to be holy as He is holy.  We are to love as God loves.   “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.

There are many Scripture verses on love.  Here are just a few:

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" - John 15:13.

"For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" -
1 John 3:11.

“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” -
Luke 6:35.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" -
1 John 5:3.

God has loved us for all eternity.  He loved us and our enemies before time began and will continue to love us throughout the ages, forever and ever.

Can you say that the Spirit’s fruit of love is found in your life?

As a believer you are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30); you are filled with the Spirit as one is drunk with wine (Eph. 5:18); you are to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25); you are to yield yourself to the Spirit’s leadership (Rom. 8:14); you are to submit to His leadership as the Holy Spirit guides (John 16:7-15).

If you are a child of God you are going to bear the fruit of the Spirit and that fruit must be evident in your life.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”Phil. 4:8.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”Col. 3:12.

This fruit of the Spirit list is what a Christian grows into, over time.  It doesn’t happen instantly.   It’s a process.  When you accept Jesus as your Savior and receive the Holy Spirit, you are a new creation.  You are then not controlled by sin.  You can’t change your attitudes by yourself.  The Holy Spirit is there to help you, guide you and teach you how to live a Christ-like life.  First you must love God for yourself.  Then you will be able to love others as God commands.  Christians don’t have to ask God for the fruit of the Spirit.  We have it available to us.  We already have it.  We just need to put it into practice.

Does your fruit of the Spirit look appetizing?
Is your love unconditional?

Note:  God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruit of the spirit' over 'a religious nut!'

Next time we will talk about more characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.  We still have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to cover.  Hope to see you here.

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