Fruit of the Spirit: Love Is an Action
Inside: Our world desperately needs the fruit of the Spirit love. Exactly what is this love and how can we change our corner of the world with it? How to open your hands, widen your heart, allow a smile, and love the world around you.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
~Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
I wonder how you rang in the New Year and what resolutions you made. Do you know that one year I resolved to be a nicer person? I’m not sure how I expected to measure that, but I’m pretty sure I failed about three days in to the year!
For that reason, I didn’t make a resolution this year, but God has been working on my heart as I have been preparing for this series. I hadn’t even put pen to paper, or keystroke to computer, as the case may be, before God started molding and shaping and speaking to me through that lofty verse in Galatians. Such pretty thoughts. Such pesky failings.
Only by God’s grace, through yielding to the Holy Spirit, can we ever hope to achieve these characteristics, for as the prophet Jeremiah noted:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)
Well, yeah. That.
But enter the Holy Spirit, and look out! We may just become more loving, joyful, gentle, kindhearted human beings, and heaven knows, the world could use some of that!
Welcome to our Fruit of the Spirit series! For the next 9 weeks, we will be looking at the Fruit of the Spirit laid out for us in Galatians. For each fruit, we will see how Jesus demonstrated each fruit of the Spirit. After all, he is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit and so epitomizes what living by the Spirit really means.
We will also listen for God’s leading on how we might display the Spirit’s fruit in our lives. Really, truly, this could rock your world. I know it is mine.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
So we start with love, and we readily find that love is more than a mushy, gushy emotion that catches in our throat, swells our heart, and brings tears to our eyes. Oh, the wonder of God’s Word! Remember when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet the night before His crucifixion? You can find it in John 13:3-15. Do you know why he did it?
Why did he remove his outer garments, tie a towel to his waist, and stoop low to wash the grimy, dusty feet of his disciples.
Hold onto your seat.
I know that we often, and very correctly, interpret that account as one of servanthood and humility. But read the verses before and the chapters that follow, and you’ll find them laden with the command to love “as I have loved you” . . . if I may, ‘as I have just demonstrated to you by washing your feet.’
John 13 opens with this verse:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
If you’re reading this in your own Bible, you might underline all forms of the word love.
Just a few verses later, Jesus begins washing the disciples’ feet, and further in the conversation, Jesus says:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)
Did you follow it? Love begets the action of serving. Out of love, Jesus humbled himself and served his disciples and friends by cleaning the dirtiest part of their bodies.
Skim through to chapter 15, and you find a wonderful intertwining of the fruit of the Spirit and love!
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 ESV)
In your own Bible as you read chapter 15, you might want to circle the word fruit and underline the word love. Notice the fruit Jesus wants us to bear:
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. . . . 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:12, 16-17 ESV)
What the World Needs Now
Do you remember the song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love”? Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote it, and in 1965 Jackie DeShannon sang it. I would never have remembered her name, but DeShannon was one of the first female singer-songwriters of the rock ‘n’ roll period, and, honestly, she was on to something by picking up that song and putting her voice to the melody.
Couldn’t our world use a dose of love right now? Probably your corner of the world needs it just as much as another corner. What could the fruit of the Spirit love look like for you? Is it one of these?
- Picking up your spouse’s clothes off the floor instead of nagging them to put them in the laundry hamper.
- Helping a child with homework when you would really rather get some much-needed sleep.
- Showing kindness to your adult child who believes differently than you long for.
- Writing an encouraging note to a friend or colleague.
- Forgiving the person who has deeply hurt you.
Ideas abound. What is the Spirit urging in your heart? Open your hands, widen your heart, allow a smile, and love the world around you.
How can we expect to ooze love when our heart is “is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick”? Oh, dear reader, because it does not come from us. It is all God, who gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that we will be compelled to bear fruit that will last.
For love is an action, and God showed us ultimate love:
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-16 ESV)
Do you know that verse 16 could also start as, “For this is how God loved the world.” How did God love the world? With an action: an action of giving.
What action of love is the Holy Spirit welling up inside of you?
Digging Deeper: The Fruit of the Spirit Love
Reflect on or journal about the following questions, listening for what God has to say to you.
1. Read John 3:1-15. Did you notice anything new in this account? I love the interaction of Jesus and Peter in verses 8 and 9. It’s like Jesus chose Peter as a disciple for comic relief and to help us see how God encourages us along in our faith walk.
2. What does it mean to you that Jesus would take time to serve his disciples in this way when he knew that within hours he would be betrayed and eventually sentenced to crucifixion?
3. How is God calling you to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit love? Take time to listen for what God speaks to you. Write it down and pray over it, asking God to show you what to do and not do.
4. Enjoy worshiping with these songs today and throughout the week.
Here I Am to Worship (A longtime favorite redone by Hillsong. Simply beautiful.)
Reckless Love (Cory Asbury, Bethel Music) Listen for how God in his love takes determined action to save us.
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