In Bible study we’ve started a new series on the fruit of the Spirit, which is going to be a nine-week study to talk about each of the different types of fruit that we produce as Christians if we abide in Jesus. We have only covered one so far – love. However, because love is probably the main fruit that we produce as Christians, it’s the one I want to talk about because we had a good discussion about it.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galations 5:22-23
Love is even listed as the first fruit of the Spirit, so that right there shows how important it is. We discussed that without love, you really cannot produce any of the other fruits listed and not listed here because they all seem to branch off of love. The thing is, you also need to love in order to produce it… if that makes sense. First, we need to love God. If we do not love Him and keep Him first in our lives, how can we expect to experience His true love?
Secondly, we need to love our neighbors as ourselves. That might seem hard because we can be hard on ourselves or we might think that it’s prideful to love ourselves. But when we experience God’s love, it’s free from pride and other sins because God’s love is Holy.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” – Matthew 22:37
When we love God and experience His love in this way, then we can produce love as a fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives.
A great question that our pastor asked in our discussion was: what about those who don’t abide in Jesus? Is it possible for them to love?
Our collected answer: kind of.
It’s obviously possible that people who aren’t in Christ can love themselves and others. Since God created us to love, because God is love, it’s naturally in our design to be loving creatures. But my personal thoughts on love without Christ is that regular, human love can be conditional. When we love without the love of God, our love eventually has a breaking point. People can hurt each other to the point where the person who has been hurt finally gives up on that person. Or if someone isn’t doing something or acting the way you want them to, you might write them off.
But God’s love is unconditional. Why else would He have sent Jesus to die for our sins if He didn’t love us so much that it’s hard to fathom? Only love so great means that you’d lay down your life for someone else – and nothing is greater than someone dying so that every single person in the world could have a chance to repent and have eternal life with God.
The best way to explain God’s love in in 1 Corinthians 13, which are probably some of the most used verses in the Bible, even by those who don’t believe.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
The love that we experience and produce is this kind of love mentioned in those verses can only come from God, because human love will fail eventually. As humans, we struggle with envy, boosting, pride, anger, and so on. Can we honestly say that we can produce a love so perfect as this without first loving God?
That’s not to say that even when we love God that our love for Him and others will be perfect. Again, we’re human. But as long as we continue to abide in Jesus and we don’t give up, we can work to weed out the bad branches in our lives and produce the true love of the Spirit.