Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well. Today we are beginning a new series on the blog called the Fruit of the Spirit! In each post, we’ll talk about one or two of the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 and have a challenge to apply them during the week! To start it off, we are discussing love.
I’d also like to note here there are so many more aspects of love that I can only scrape the surface in this article. However, I hope this article still gives you a general understanding of what godly love really looks like.
Why Love Should Be First
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 (bold added)
I like Paul’s placement of ‘love’ here. It’s right in the front, as it should be. Love is probably the most important fruit to have. Why is love the most important? Because Jesus said it himself!
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”Matthew 22:37-40
All of the law comes after these two commandments, and they both include love. Loving God and then loving others will help us live the rest of the law as well. For example, God tells us not to steal. If we love someone, are we going to steal from them? I hope not.
Often people, both Christians and non-Christians, can agree that we should love others, but Christian love is different than worldly love. Natasha Crain points this out in chapter 10 of her book, Talking With Your Kids About Jesus:
Christians strive to love others given God’s standards. The secular world strives to love others given self-defined standards.Natasha Crain, Talking With Your Kids About Jesus
What are God’s standards? We’ll talk about that next.
The Standard For Love
Jesus speaks about love in Luke 6:27-36, read those verses by clicking here and then come back to this article.
Here are a few things Jesus said about the people you should love:
- They’re enemies
- They hate you
- They abuse you
- They strike you
- They take away from you
This is a very high request, but such a good one. In the rest of the passage, Jesus talks about how it’s more beneficial to love those who hurt you. If you love someone who’s nice to you, nothing changes except for having a comfortable relationship. If you love someone who hurts you, you can show them what it means to really love, convict them, and bring them to Christ. In Romans 12, it says:
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.”Romans 12:20
Nevertheless, loving those who hurt us is hard, and it’s going to take some time and patience for us to get it right. Only God can change our hearts to love, and we have to ask for His help when we feel like we can’t.
Love Leads To The Other Fruits
Another beautiful passage about love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul says,
Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We already touched on this when we talked about Jesus and the greatest commandments. However, these verses hone love in on the other fruits of the Spirit as well. We automatically can identify patience and kindness (verse 4), peace in not being resentful (verse 5), and joy and faithfulness (verse 6).
Love is so important for us to grow in our faith; Jesus is a perfect example of love. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to die for us so that we could be with Him. Not only that, but we were God’s enemies. We were dirty, evil, unloving sinners that didn’t deserve a thing. But God said, “I’m going to love you anyway, and I’m going to save you because I love you so much.”
He did save us, and He had to make a huge sacrifice to do so. But, thank the Lord, He is risen and if we believe we are saved!
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
That doesn’t mean we aren’t still sinners and that we won’t ever sin again, but because of God’s love for us, we should try to be imitators of Christ. We should be trying to walk in love as Jesus did. We can try to follow all of the other commandments and produce other fruits, but if there isn’t love, it’s nothing.
It’s only when you choose to surrender to Jesus and let His love for you spark a love for Him that a desire to serve God and live for Him will matter.Sara Barratt, Love Riot
Paul says it himself earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:3
It is only with love that you can continue this series with me. It is only with love that these other fruits will mean anything to you. And I know, there will be days when love is hard. Love for God will be hard, love for others will be harder, but we can make it through this. We can love.
So, how do we apply this new knowledge about love?
Ask God for both a stronger love for Him and what He did for us and for a better love for others. Pray to Him, get down on your knees and beg if you have to. Just ask.
I challenge you this week, after you ask God for love, to read the book of 1 John. I will be doing it as well, since I also need to work on my love. It’s a short letter from John, the disciple of Jesus, and it has 5 chapters. Not every one of those chapters will be about love, but all of it is helpful. You can split it up in the days of the week or you can read it in bigger chunks. Do it at your own pace. If you don’t have a Bible, you can read chapter 1 here.
After you read, don’t just close your Bible and forget about it. Ask questions like, “What does this tell me about God? How can I apply this in my life?”
This is the hardest part, and even as I’m writing this I know it’s going to be a challenge for me as well. However, we need to do it. We (and especially I) can’t speak the word but not do it. So here it is. Two different ways you can act in love this week.
- A. This week, when you pray for love, also pray for those who have hurt you. Who has been mean to you? Who treated you unfairly or tore you down? Pray for them.
- B. With people closer to you, send some messages. Text that friend who you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them how much you appreciate them and would love to talk with them. Send something to a family member and thank them for their love and care. In daily life, be patient and humble, not insisting on your own way.
Think of it as Valentine’s day in July, except it extends for a week (and hopefully for longer than a week) and instead of expecting things from others, we will be giving to others and expecting nothing in return. It’s going to be hard, but it’s also worth it. I know that, especially with my siblings, it’s hard to be loving and kind all the time. But if we have God’s help, we can do it.
Finally, here’s a song that reminds us of the importance of love:
Thank you for joining me today for the beginning of this series, the Fruit of the Spirit! I hope you enjoyed and will try out my challenges with me this week. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list to receive three exclusive articles, notifications when I post, and my monthly newsletter that will be going out next Friday!
Have a blessed day,