The Fruit of the Spirit – LOVE!
For the duration of Lockdown we’ll be reflecting on the Fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:
“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
What’s interesting about this passage is that one of the ways in which you could punctuate this list, is to put a semi-colon instead of a comma after ‘love’, like this:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love; joy, peace, patience…”
This is a subtle difference, but really important! What it seems to suggest is that the primary fruit of the Spirit is love, and all the other characteristics mentioned are extensions of love.
This makes sense especially if you read Galatians 5 in tandem with 1 Corinthians 13, the classic passage about love:
“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 at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Did you pick that up? Some of the fruits of the Spirit in this verse, like patience and kindness, are described as extensions of love! Which really just means that if you have the fruit of love, then you should have all the other fruit as well, at least in some measure!
This is why the apostle Paul speaks so highly of love:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing”1 Corinthians 13:1-3
The mark of a Christian? Love!
Evidence that a person is truly Spirit-filled? Love!
The degree to which a person is Spirit-filled? The degree to which they are capable of loving!
It’s that simple.
How do we become more loving? Or (you get it now!), how do we become more Spirit-filled?
I think the heart of the answer is really simple, but incredibly profound. The degree to which we are capable of loving is relative to the love we accept, and reflect, with Jesus.
We see this all over the Bible, in (again!) some subtle ways. Consider Colossians 3:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”Colossians 3:12-15
- The Fruit of the Spirit making another appearance! (It’s not just a Galatians 5 thing!)
- The intentionality required from us in pursuing these fruit (“Put on then..” v12)
- The supremacy of love (v14)
And notice the little word ‘beloved’:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved..”verse 12
That’s so subtle, and so powerful. You see before we get to the business of loving, we are reminded that we are loved. In fact it is because we are loved that we can love! Seen in this way, we are just a link in the chain that extends back to Calvary, through us, and forward to those around us.
And that’s why the love of Christians is really our most distinctive feature (John 13:35)!