Fruits of the Spirit: Love
BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT PRODUCES THIS KIND OF FRUIT IN OUR LIVES:LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL. GALATIANS 5:22-23
The 'fruits of the spirit' can feel old-fashioned, a bit irrelevant, or simply unrealistic - the list is a long one and can feel daunting! But we are praying that this series across January would encourage you to consider the fruits of the spirit in a new way, and that you would realise the Spirit's place in your everyday life. The more time we spend time with God through prayer and the Bible, the more we will experience the tangible work of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. And that's exciting!
Today, we're kicking off with what some might say is the greatest fruit of them all: love. God's love is immeasurable, never-ending, perfect, and unconditional. God IS love. He is the creator of love: all love comes from Him. And He wants us to learn to love like He does.
The Bible is packed full of reminders about how much God values love, and how important and fundamental it is to us as children of Love himself. Here are just a few glimpses:
AND NOW THESE THREE REMAIN: FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE. BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE. (1 CORINTHIANS 13:13)
ABOVE ALL, LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY, BECAUSE LOVE COVERS OVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS. (1 PETER 4:8)
IF I HAVE FAITH ENOUGH EVEN TO MOVE MOUNTAINS, BUT DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I AM NOTHING. (1 CORINTHIANS 13:2)
God is clearly serious about wanting us to acknowledge His great love, to experience it, develop it, and share it with others. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked which the greatest commandment is. He replies: '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. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.'
The good news is that we are not left on our own to try and develop these attributes. This is the work of the Spirit – not results we are expected to achieve on our own. We won’t manage to become more loving left to our own devices (see yesterday's post for more on this) – the good news is that the Spirit will work in us, step by step, to soften our hearts and help us love in a way that delights God.
I think Jesus's commandments in Matthew gives us a framework for thinking about how to grow in the fruit of love. You will find all 3 areas interlinked in more wonderful and complex ways than I could ever understand (or write in a miniblog), but I think they are good starting points:
1. LOVE GOD MORE.
What do you know about God? Do you know what He is like? Search for aspects of God's character in the Bible: try to spot His justice, grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and most importantly - His LOVE. I guarantee you will be blown away!
2. KNOW GOD'S LOVE FOR US MORE.
1 John 4:10 sums this up: 'This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.' We will only understand the extent of God's love for us if we look at Jesus, who died for us. This is the Greatest Love Story Ever Told! Loving God, and knowing how much you're loved by Him will help you to...
3. LOVE OTHERS MORE.
Knowing God's vast love for us, we are children of the KING. We don't have to aim for worldly success anymore. Let's ask the Holy Spirit to help us let go of insecurities and bitterness, and empower us to love others generously and extravagantly.
Sometimes I feel totally out of energy to love other people (especially not in the way God loves me). At times like this, I find it helpful to spend a few moments breathing in and out, thinking about every inward breath as a symbol of God's love for me. Remembering that I am literally filled with God's love, I feel empowered and free to love others (symbolised with an outward breath) in the choices I make and the things I will do that day.
Another tip that I have found helpful, is to think about God's love every time you take your daily shower. As you feel the weight of the water cascading down, think about the weight of God's love for you - and particularly, the enormous power of the Holy Spirit! It sounds funny, but this massively encourages me and helps me to feel fully equipped to start the day in the power of the Spirit.
Why not take some time today or this week to pray about the three things listed further back in the post: a greater love for God, a greater understanding of God's love for you, and a greater love for others. Ask the Spirit to work powerfully in you, and pray that your capacity to love those around you would increase!
ABOVE ALL, CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH LOVE, WHICH BINDS US ALL TOGETHER IN PERFECT HARMONY. COLOSSIANS 3:14
Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working in Marketing for a wonderful Cambridge tech company, and is getting married in June!