Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit: LOVE

This is the first of a nine post series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Before we delve into the whole thing, let's talk about the Fruit for a while.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23

You will note that the word fruit is singular, this means that each characteristic described above does not exist in isolation but is part of a whole. In other words, we are not being called to display only love without self-control, or kindness without faithfulness. These are all things that we should strive for.

What is love?
We have discussed love on this blog before but let us define it again.

Simply put, Love is a decision to prosper another person above yourself. It means that when you love someone, you consider their needs above your own.

There are many aspects to love. Infact many languages have more than one word for the concept of love. Today we'll look at just a few ways that love is manifested.

Love for one person to another
The bible paints an excellent picture for what love is and what it is not in relation to people loving each other. In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 it tells us:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The bible also tells us that love for one another: 
Is Precious: 

Proverbs 15:17

A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
is better than steak with someone you hate.

Is Edifying: 

1 Corinthians 8:1

Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

Is Unquenchable: 
Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal,
and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Songs of Solomon 8:6-7

Many waters cannot quench love,

nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned.

Promotes peace: 
Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up quarrels,
but love makes up for all offenses.

Proverbs 17:9
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven,
but dwelling on it separates close friends.

These scriptures show us how powerful love is. If we learn to love each other the way it is taught in 1 Corinthians 13:4 -7, I'm sure we can all agree that the world would be a much greater place to live. 

Love of People for God
1 John 5:3 tells us something amazing: 
Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
This means that our love for God can be demonstrated very easily. If we say we love Him, then what we have to do is pretty simple, keep his commandments! Wow. And here we all thought it meant we had to be at church a certain number of times for the week or serve on as many committees as possible or show our fellow Christians how much doctrine we know. Whilst these things are important, God simply requires one thing from us, that we do what He asks. Doing what He asks shows Him respect and shows Him love. 

Love of Money
This aspect shows us that love can have an evil side. Unfortunately for us, most of the problems we currently face in the world stem from man's love for money. People kill each other so that they can aquire what the other person has. Entire countries are suppressed and their resources stripped because of how valuable they are. We spend billions on war in an effort to control what another country has whilst children are starving all over the world. This list can go on and on and on. The point is that the bible is correct when it says: 

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT)

So today, let us learn to exercise love for one another, the way the bible said we should. Let us also remember that God requires that we show love to him in the simplest way possible, just do what He asks. And finally, be reminded that love directed at the wrong thing can cause chaos in the world and in our loves. Let us set our priorities according to God's will and we will be much better off.

Next week, we will exam the second characteristic of the fruit, JOY! 

Devotions like this one and others can be found in the Soul Food Series in Kindle or paperback format. 
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