Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit: Love

Chuckle: When is it OK to kiss someone: "The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that." --Curt, age 7
Quote: “There is a comfort in the strength of love: ‘Twill make a thing endurable, which else Would overset the brain, or break the heart.” --William Wordsworth
    Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last" (John 15:16 NIV). "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. . . . But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"  (Galatians 5:16,22 NIV).
Jesus has called each of us to bear fruit for his kingdom. We must remember that the Spirit produces fruit in a Christian's life. The Christian is the conduit through whom the Spirit produces the fruit. The first fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions is "love." This overused word has many meanings, and before we can understand its importance as a fruit of the Spirit, we must understand what the word means as it is used here in our Scripture passage. The Greek word here is "Agape," an unconditional, self-sacrificing, and giving love -- the kind of love Jesus has for us.
This Christian love of which Paul wrote is different from the love we normally experience and speak about. Christian love is not simply a warm and fuzzy emotion which arises because of the character of the one loved. It is not due to the loving quality of the lover. It is a relationship of self-giving which results from God's activity in Christ. This kind of love is instilled in us by the Holy Spirit. It is an action word -- our actions demonstrate this kind of God-given love. A great definition of this kind of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, which reads in part:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV).
It's easy to tell someone you love them with words, but when your actions demonstrate that love, it is much more believable and more likely to positively impact the life of the one being loved. The Christian life is to be characterized by love so that Paul could even speak of "walking in love" (Rom. 14:15 NIV). The Christian is to increase and abound in love (1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV).
"In a boiler room, it is impossible to look into the boiler to see how much water it contains. But running up the outside is a tiny glass tube, that serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; if it is empty, so is the boiler. How do you know you love God? You believe you love him, but you want to know. Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother or sister is the measure of your love for God."
One last thought. When we love people as Jesus loves us, it will add great credibility to our witness as we try to reach people for Christ. It will let people know we are genuine -- the real deal -- as Christians. Thus, love is crucial if people are to be born into God's kingdom -- the ultimate in fruit bearing.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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