The Fruit of the Spirit: LOVE

11-2012_Fruit-Bowl-of-the-Spirit_HerronI will be doing a series of pastor’s pens on the fruit of the Spirit, not fruits of the Spirit. They are called the fruit of the Spirit because all of these qualities are ours the day we believed. The fruit are different manifestations of God’s sanctification in our life.

Galatians 5:22-23 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law.

Let’s begin with love.  We will first talk about what love is not. In Matthew 5:43, 45 Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…”

The Pharisees had a very restrictive view of who their neighbors were, and so they could easily infer that their enemies could be hated. This was not God’s law and Jesus does not allow the perversion to pass. God does not countenance a limited love.

Leviticus 19:11 says: “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to on another.” This means that we are to be people of integrity in our dealings with people who work for us or who buy something from us. We are not to shortchange anyone in our transactions.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter came to Jesus and said: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times. Jesus said to him ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” The Jews in Jesus’ day believed that you only had to forgive a person three times. Peter thought he was being extremely generous in doubling the amount and adding one. Jesus allows no such qualification. As often as someone may aggravate me and verbally abuse me I am still obligated to show them God’s love by forgiving them. We may never be best friends but I am not to allow the anger to seethe inside of me. Let us remember how much Christ loves us. Remember in Romans 5:6 Paul said: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

fruit-of-the-spirit_t-1024x768What is the positive side of love? In Romans 12:17-18 Paul said: “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Paul goes on to say in the passage that vengeance belongs to God. That in so loving our enemy we are heaping burning coals of fire on their heads.  The paraphrase of  this would be “killing them with kindness”. Our showing love to an enemy may be an irritant to them but we are showing God’s love in our conduct.

In I Corinthians 13:4-8 Paul said: “Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy, love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up, it does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

Each one of these characteristics of love I believe is self explanatory. Though loving people who love us is easy the real test is in loving people who do not love us.  This fruit given to us by God is to be exercised by us at all times whether it is convenient or not. So as Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and so glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

See you Sunday.