Fruits of the Spirit: Love

by: Bill Bratt


The apostle Paul admonished true Christians to "walk in the Spirit" and if we do then we will "not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16.) So how do we walk in the Spirit? Paul continues in the next five verses in telling us what the "works of the flesh" are and then he answers the question of how do we walk in the Spirit when he says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Letís take a look at "love," which is the first in the list of the fruits of the Spirit.

The Greek word for "love" in this verse is "agape" which could be defined as: "love, generosity, kindly concern, devotedness and love-feasts."

Letís notice seven different areas of "love."

We are to Love God

Are there blessings and rewards if we love God? The apostle Paul stated: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28.) This is a fantastic blessing to know that if you love God then all things will work together for good.

How are we to love God? The apostle John gives us the answer: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. {3} For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3.) The answer is amazing and it is simple, the better that we can keep Godís Commandments the more we can show God that we love Him. The Ten Commandments are all about relationships. The first four pertain to our relationship with God and the last six pertain to our relationship with our family, friends and neighbors.

We are to Love Jesus

At Jesusí last Passover He told His twelve apostles, and this also applies to us, what to do to show Him that we love Him. Jesus said: "If you love Me, keep My commandments. {16} "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; (John 14:15-16.)

Notice here that if we love Jesus and keep His Commandments then there is a gift from God. This gift is Godís Holy Spirit. The Greek word here for "Helper" is "parakletos" and means an intercessor, consoler:--advocate, comforter. The Holy Spirit is a powerful Helper in living the Christian way of life and overcoming sin.

A few verses later, Jesus told His disciples: "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me" (John 14:24.) In essence Jesus is saying that if we love Him we will keep ALL of His words. Notice what Matthew recorded Him as saying: "But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4.) He is referring to living by the words of the whole Bible.

We are to Love Our Families

Loving our families begins with the Fifth Commandment: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12.) The word "honor" can be defined as to "revere, honour, value" but it can also include the definitions of "weighty, chargeable, grievous and lay heavily." This Commandment works up and down, we all begin as children and then we become parents. We are to love and respect our parents and yet at times with the family we face heavy burdens such as when we have a death or a serious health problem with a parent or a child.

Loving our families continues with loving our wife and our children (Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:1-4.)

We are to Love the Brethren

How can we love the brethren in Godís Church? Letís notice Paulís answer: "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13.) Paul tells us to serve one another. How can we do that? Be nice to your brother, be good to him, pray for him. If he is sick, send him a card, email him or telephone him.

Letís notice what our attitude must be to totally (100%) love the brethren. John tells us: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. {15} Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. {16} By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:14-16.) And what did Jesus say at His last Passover? "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13.) To have that 100% love for the brethren we must be willing to lay our lives down for the brethren.

We are to Love Our Neighbors

Jesus said: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' {38} "This is the first and great commandment. {39} "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39.)

A lawyer asked Jesus the question: "who is my neighbor?" and Jesus told him the story of the "Good Samaritan." (Luke 10:29-37.) We are to be "good Samaritans."

We are to Love the Stranger

There is a question that is asked in Deuteronomy 10:12 "What does the Lord require of you?" Then in verse 19 it says: "Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." We also are to love strangers.

We are to Love Our Enemies

Jesus at times asks us to do some very difficult things. Letís notice what He said: "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" (Matthew 5:44.) This is what true love is all about. We must have the kind of love that God and Jesus has.

Jesusí enemies hated Him and sought to kill him and finally succeeded in having Him crucified. Letís notice what Jesus said: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34)

Love is very important and it is one of the fruits of Godís Holy Spirit.