Friday, March 12, 2010

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love

Do you remember the first time you fell in love?

I remember my first love affair, just like it was yesterday.  When I was in 2nd grade there was a boy in the class next to mine named Kyle.  He was a year younger than me, but that didn't matter to me because we were in love!

In our elementary school all love affairs started on the playground in the old hollow tree.  I knew that Kyle liked me, after all you don't share the teeter totter with just anybody!

One day as I was walking out to the playground during recess with my friends someone ran up & told me that Kyle wanted to talk to me at the old tree.  Well, we all knew what that meant.  This relationship was about to go deeper than sharing a teeter totter.  This meant a serious commitment.  I was thrilled!  No one had ever invited me to the old tree before.  I had dreamed of the day when I would be invited to the old tree and here I was, walking to the old tree with my piggy tails blowing in the breeze feeling so special and loved.

I walked up to the tree and there stood Kyle, Mr. Dreamboat!  Mind you he was only in 1st grade, but age didn't matter to me.  I walked up to him.  I don't remember what I said (this happened about 30 years ago) but I know that I was nervous.

Then he did it!  He popped the big question,
"Will you go with me?" 
Oh my goodness!  He really wants me to be his girlfriend!  What do I say?  What do I do? 
"Yes!" 
is about all I could muster up as a response.  And then he showed me the most beautiful ring a bubble gum machine could produce.  I was in awe!  I was in LOVE!  Kyle was my first true love!

Well, of course there have been many "true loves" in my life since then and I know now that they never were really true loves.  They were only silly infatuations.  The kind of love that I thought I was experiencing is also known as the greek word of eros.  This is the root from which we get words like erotica.  This type of love is not the kind of love that we are to have for each other as Believers or for God.

1 John 4:7 & 8 says, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

We live in a world where the term love  is passed around a lot and we don't really understand the full meaning of it.   We are so quick to tell someone, I love you, but in reality we are just infatuated with them.

1 John 4:7 reminds that we are to love each other, but what kind of love is it referring to?

Agape is the greek word for love in this verse.  This is NOT an erotic kind of love. It is not whimsical or random.  Agape love is intentional.  It is more than a mutual affection, it is self-sacrificing, unselfish.  Voddie Baucham calls agape love "an act of the will, accompanied by emotion"

This is the kind of love that is mentioned in Galatians 5:22.

The fruit of the Spirit is love...

And also in 1 John 4:7 - 8.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

According to this verse, agape love comes from God, not from us. It is not something that we can try harder to do.  That is why Paul listed it as a fruit of the Spirit.  He didn't say it is a fruit of being really good & trying really hard.  He said the fruit of the Spirit is love.

Simply put, it means that it is only by the Spirit indwelling in our life that we can love others with the agape love.  It is only when we are right with God and walking in His Spirit that we are capable of loving other the way God loves us.

How do we know that God loves us?  I have heard it said to me all my life, God loves you, but do I really understand what it means that He loves me?

Romans 5:8 tells us that because we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  How many people have you had hang on a cross & die so that you wouldn't have to? Christ is the only one that I know of for me.  He didn't have to die, but he chose to...for me...because his love for me is so deep.

John 3:16, a verse that most people grew up hearing if they grew up in the church, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son...  Another sign to me that my God loves me.

Eph 1:4,5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.   In love he predestined us for adoption as sons & daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

God chose me.  He was never forced to love me.  He chose me.  That is agape love.  It is intentional.  Because he chose me, I believe in him as my Lord & Savior.  It is because of him that I desire to know him more.  It is because of Him that I am adopted into his kingdom!  He chose me knowing how much I would mess up my life.  He loved me in spite of all the mistakes I would make and all the pain I would bring him.  He chose to love me anyway.  How can I not love him & commit my life completely to him after all He has done for me?

And lastly, I know God loves me because He forgives my sins.  When I come to him humbly and repentant, he will forgive my sins.  Only God can do that and he does it because he loves me.

Because of his love for me, I can love others with this same kind of love.  I can love others with an agape love.  Some are easy to love and others are not.  But it is only through His Spirit am I able to love at all.  I can't work for it.  Even if I followed every law in the Bible, if my heart was not right with Him I would not be capable of loving as He loves.

Who is your true love?

How do you love others?

Do you expect anything in return?

 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
If you have someone in your life that you feel is unlovable, remember how lovable you are to God.  He chooses to love you and by His Spirit enables you to love those who seem unlovable.

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