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Fruit of the Spirit – Love

BRBC 13/5/07

Last week we introduced the theme of the fruit of the spirit, saying there is only one fruit, comprising 9 parts or segments. It is fitting that the first part is love. We know from the Bible that God is love (1 John 4:16), and the Spirit in us makes us like God, and therefore the fruit of the Spirit has to be love. As the saying goes, it is love that makes the world go round. As it is put in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical,

Love, love changes everything: hands and faces, earth and sky.
Love, love changes everything: how you live and how you die.
Love can make the summer fly, or a night seem like a lifetime.
Yes, love, love changes everything, now I tremble at your name.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.

Love, or the lack of it, affects us in positive or negative ways, but it is never neutral. Recall the haunting self video of the Virginia Tech massacres – a life without feeling loved was not neutral but negative to the ultimate degree.

When Joseph Stalin’s wife died at an early age in 1907 he pointed to her coffin and said

“She was the one creature who softened my heart of stone. She is dead, and with her have died my last warm feelings for humanity. He pointed to his heart and said, ‘It is all so desolate here, so inexpressibly empty’”[1]

He went on to rule with hatred and kill about 20M of his own people. God’s Spirit comes to fill us with love. Hatred takes lives. God’s love gives his own life (John 3:16) The fruit – the produce - of God’s Spirit on us is love. God at work in us will inevitably produce Love. If you’re not growing in love as a Christian the Spirit is not at work in you!

But what is love? I don’t suggest you do it but I put a search in the internet for websites with the word “love”. Here’s the first ten I got…

Dating Direct UK: Meet singles in your area - browse our database of black UK members!
The Love Calculator  You Can Calculate The Exact Name Of Your 1 True Love, Try It Now!
Romance  Free dating for girls.  (www.plentyoffish.com !!!)
Find your ideal date
Find Love Online
Find love with the UK's favourite dating site. Thousands of members.
UK Online Dating
David Charles Clairvoyant
Your Own Personal Psychic Is Here. Ring Someone Who Cares!
Dating in the UK
Find a date in the UK

You could be forgiven for thinking love is only about romance and sexuality. Or love is about feelings – “an ocean of emotion”. Or that love is something that hits you and is almost outside you in an uncontrollable way. “I fell in love”. Tripped over it! Stumbled to a fall, as though it were a pothole in the road!

Love, as fruit of the Spirit here in Galatians is not simply an emotion, not something we fall upon, but the deliberate fruit of the spirit. In fact the whole fruit of the spirit is a deliberate choice of “lifestyle”. Live by the Spirit (16). It’s actually quite contrary to “stumbling into”. Actually, what we all stumble into is “sinful nature” (17). Some of the practical examples of that are listed in v19f. But the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of love has to be chosen, at least insofar as we choose to allow the Spirit of God to work in us, choose to “keep in step with the Spirit” (25). Sometimes, when needing to show love, we may say, or at least think, “I don’t like you but I love you”. We might not like someone’s actions and attitudes but we can love them. Because true, godly love goes beyond emotions. I’ve said before that love is a verb not a noun – something we do not some kind of “it”, a thing that hits us. I’ve also explained that the NT has different words for love.

  • Storge – natural affection
  • Eros – erotic, sexual love
  • Philia – affectionate, friendship, brotherly love.
  • Agape – unconditional, sacrificial, godly love.

No prizes for guessing which word is used here: agape. So when Paul writes that the fruit of the Spirit is love, he’s saying that it is God’s love. That’s obvious from being the fruit of the Spirit, but the implication is that it is not only from God (the source) but it is God’s kind of love. So the type of love the Spirit develops in us is unconditional, sacrificial love.

I came across a quote about love that strikes me as very helpful:

“To love always implies personal investment in the object of love”[2]

God invested in us because he loves us. He invested the life of his Son. Again, not just “emotion” but action.

In Colossians 3:14 Paul says, “Put on love”. It’s like your clothes every morning!

We have to clothe ourselves with love. Having said what kind of love it is we must then ask, who is the recipient of it. Who do we put love on for?

  • God – ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.a’ (Matt 22:37). To the church in Ephesus who were working hard, Jesus said,  I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.(Rev 2:4)
  • Each other: Love one another as I have loved you. (John 13:34)
  • The unlovely: Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.” (Luke 6:27). How does he expand on the word love here?

 “Do good” – actions;

“bless” those who curse you – speak well of rather than cursing!

Pray for them – don’t let them change you but ask God to change them, for the better.

How’s your love? Back to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Aspects of Love”,

Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever.
…Nothing in the world will ever be the same.

This is only really true of God’s love. And that love is the produce of the Holy Spirit in us.


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[1] Cited in D Aycock, Living by the fruit of the Spirit, Kregel Publications (1999) p22.

[2] Baker Encyclopaedia of Psychology, cited in Aycock, Fruit p17.

a Quoted from Deut. 6:5

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