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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE

1        LOVE DEFINED IN SCRIPTURE

To understand love, and to be a loving person, ought to be our main goal in life. This is why 1 Corinthians 14:1 says we should pursue love. The RSV says, “Make love your aim.” The NLT says, “Let love be your highest goal.” If this is our highest goal, how do we define love?

In English, we use the same word to say, I love my partner, I love my children. I love my dog, and I love my phone. In Greek, there are different words for love. Storge is a natural affection we have for our family. This is not the word used in Galatians 5:22. Epithumia a strong desire for something. It could be a love for ice cream, chocolate, or cheese. This is not the word used in Galatians 5:22. Another word for love is philia. This is friendship love from which we have philanthropy (love for people) and philosophy (love of wisdom). This is not the word used in Galatians 5:22. The word love in Galatians 5:22 is agape. In the New Testament, agape is used to describe God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for each another. Agape is not based on qualities found in the one to love. Agape loves because it is its nature to love. This is the fruit of the Spirit, and it could be defined as the loving, merciful, and gracious nature of God that comes to us through Jesus by his Spirit.

Agape goes beyond storge that loves close relatives. Agape goes beyond eros and epithumia that loves what we like. Agape goes beyond philia or friendship love. Agape loves the unlovely, the unlovable, the unloved, and the unloving. Agape looks anywhere and everywhere for someone to love. To understand this further, we need to look at…

2        LOVE DISPLAYED IN JESUS

The fullest expression of the fruit of the Spirit is seen in Jesus. While he was on earth, Jesus was pure love, joy, and peace. Jesus was all patience, kindness, and goodness. Jesus was the epitome of faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Jesus didn’t send an email or a text to tell us he loved us. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us.” This love is seen during Holy Week and beyond. The love of Jesus is not only seen, it is sacrificial. John 15:13 says, “There is no greater love than this… Jesus lay down his life for us.” The love of Jesus is secure. Romans 8:39 says nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can be secure in his love.

Today, we see storge love and erotic love. We see epithumia or passionate desire. We see philia or friendship love, but what about agape? What about the secure, sacrificial love that is seen in Jesus? When do we see this? This leads from love defined in Scripture, and love displayed in Jesus to…

3        LOVE DEPLOYED IN US

God’s love didn’t begin when he created us. God’s love didn’t begin when Jesus died for us. God’s love didn’t begin when we became Christians. God’s love didn’t begin at all. God is love. God has always loved, and always will love. This is part of his eternal nature. God said in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have always loved you, and will continue to show you my love.”

God’s love does not come from a reluctant deity who forgives because Jesus died. God’s love comes from his eternal nature, and this is why Jesus died. Romans 5:5 says God’s love has been poured out in Jesus… and into our hearts by his Spirit. The love of God was poured out during Holy Week, and is poured into our lives by his Spirit. 1 John 4:10-11 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be a sacrifice for our sins… If God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” This is the fruit of the Spirit deployed in us.

To display this love, we need to be led by the Spirit, we need to walk in the Spirit, we need to live in the Spirit, we need to keep in step with the Spirit, and we need to sow into the spirit. When we do this, we will define God’s love, we will display God’s love, and we will deploy God’s love.