On Tuesday mornings, some of my friends and I meet in our small town and we have a bible study. We are on our third session of studying together, and today we began studying the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
[Wow, I just noticed the HUGE exclamation point at the end of this sentence. Paul meant business when he preached this!]
Our homework was to study the first two fruits, Love and Joy. We spent the past week looking up scriptures on our own, and truly digging deep to find the meaning of these two fruits that Paul preaches on in the book of Galatians.
First of all, I think it is no accident that Love is the first fruit. I believe this is the case because all of the other fruits flow from Love.
How do we get these fruits, you ask?
We receive them through salvation. When we confess our belief in Christ, and repent of our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit. These fruits are a by-product of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Wow! We got a good deal, didn't we?
However...you knew that was coming didn't you...
We must activate these fruits in order for us to have them flowing from our lives. If they are dormant in our hearts, they are of no use. Fruit is no good unless it is tasted, eaten, and delighted in. Right?
So, back to the fruit of Love.
The Love that Paul is talking about here in the Greek meaning is "agape". Agape love is a divine love. It can only be available through Christ. We have zero power to this kind of divine love, except through the Holy Spirit.
Agape love is a supernatural love, not a natural love.
If I were to say to you, "Do you want your husband to have a natural kind of love for you, or a supernatural love for you"...what would you say?
SUPERNATURAL, right? No one on earth wants just a regular ordinary natural anything. We want a SUPERNATURAL everything!
Let's get down to the nitty gritty of love.
Love is hard.
We all have those around us that make it very, very, very, very, and one more "very" just for good measure....hard to love.
People are cruel.
People are thoughtless.
People are hurtful.
People mess up.
Our natural flesh cannot love these kind of people. It is impossible. I don't care who you are, it is impossible without agape love.
Love trips us up. Every single day.
We are faced with things that we have every "right" to be hateful about. We are faced with people that we swear were put on this Earth just to get on our ever-lovin'-last nerve!
So, we justify this lack of love for the unlovables in our lives.
We tell ourselves and others that it's just impossible to love this person.
We check off every other fruit of the Spirit with our gold sharpie, and feel it's okay and justifiable to not love certain people.
Friends, we will never be true disciples of Christ until we have Love. Agape love.
In my own life, I have seen that the other fruits of the Spirit--joy, peace, patience, etc...will NOT be activated unless our Love fruit is first activated. The other fruits flow from this.
Are you lacking Peace?
Are you lacking Joy?
Are you lacking Patience?
Are you lacking Forgiveness?
Are you lacking Gentleness?
Are you lacking Faithfulness?
Are you lacking Self-Control?
Check your Love meter. Your problem probably lies there.
Jesus spoke matter of factly to the Jewish Council--He didn't mince words with the commandment to Love. When they asked Him what the greatest commandment of all was, He said this:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Friends, this is not a suggestion from Jesus. These are commands.
When we fall into the category of thinking that these do not apply to us or our situation, we fall into dangerous territory.
Didn't the Pharisees that crucified Jesus think the same thing? They thought this teaching was absurd and impossible.
They were right. It is impossible, without the Holy Spirit.
"With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27
I will leave us with this...
Are we truly Jesus' disciples...Or are we just playing the part.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Lord, help me to Love,