The Fruit of the Spirit: LOVE (part 2)
Yesterday we looked at the first of the Fruits of the Spirit, which is love. In particular we spoke about pursuing the fruit of love, which we learned came simply from pursuing the love that Jesus has for us.
However, something we haven’t touched on yet is the immediate context of this passage:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do”Galatians 5:16-17
The immediate context is clearly warning us that there is opposition to the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives!
This should not be a surprise to us. We know that there is opposition to a flourishing, fruitful Christian life. This opposition takes various forms, but in this passage it comes from ‘the flesh’, or our natural selves.
The question I want to deal with today then is this: What is it about our flesh, or our natural humanity, that prevents love from blossoming in us?
There are multiple answers to that question, here are two:
1. We’re more concerned about getting love, than giving love.
There’s a well-known slogan used by Christians for a while, which says ‘love is a verb’, or ‘love is a muscle’, basically saying that love is not a quality you have, but something you do.
Which for the most part is true, and certainly we see that emphasis in 1 Corinthians 13, the passage that we looked at yesterday. However, the Fruit of the Spirit passage in Galatians 5 describes love as a noun, something that is given to us, and that we receive as a gift, from Jesus!
Here’s how this works: Love is obviously both something to be received AND exercised. The love we receive from God then needs to then be exercised, so that we move from being people who are not only loved but loving.
Every Christian is spectacularly loved, but not all Christians are spectacularly loving!
While it is the Spirit’s job to pour God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), it’s our job to convert the noun to a verb.
2. To be loving means to be vulnerable
This is part of what makes love so mysterious. It’s the most powerful force in the universe, and yet it makes us so vulnerable. Anyone who’s ever loved and had that love either rejected, or worse, abused, knows this.
If you’ve ever been hurt by love then you may understandably be thinking that to prevent further hurt you have to stop loving.
CS Lewis speaks into the vulnerability of love by saying:
‘To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell’‘The Four Loves’
The apostle John reminds us that:
“We love, because he first loved us”1 John 4:19
In other words we don’t need to feel vulnerable in love, when we realise how much we are loved by God. It is unconditional and infinite. It is this security in His perfect love that enables us to then be loving to others, without fear.
Some Activities to do with children
1. Reflect on Jesus’ love for you:
Look up all the verses in the Bible that refer to God’s love for us (this could be done with a Google search if you don’t have a Bible with a concordance). Write or draw how God has shown his love for you (think of the past two sermons). You can even stick a photo of yourself in the centre of the page and write your reflections around it.
2. See how we love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19):
Conduct an experiment to see how God’s love for us enables us to love others. You will need:
- A tray
- A bowl, measuring jug, or cup that can take at least 250ml liquid
- Bicarbonate of soda (1 Tbsp)
- ½ Cup of vinegar
- Some red food colouring if you have
Put the cup/jug in the centre of the tray and pour the bicarbonate of soda in. Add a drop of food colouring. Slowly pour the vinegar into the cup/jug and see the ‘love’ overflow.
Reflect on how we love others because God has poured out his love onto us first.
3. Show the love:
Think of one thing you can do today to show the sacrificial love of Christ to those in your home, or other friends or family.