One of the many blessings that the Lord has given me in my life has been a godly young lady who has joined me and inspired me in my study of God's word for almost three years now. She encouraged me to join her in a one week study of the fruits of the spirit, writing our findings either on our blogs or in a journal entry. I am so excited to be doing this, so eager to see what the Lord brings to light, and pretty sure already that this will be a great reality check this week on how much growth I need in these Fruits of the Spirit. Praise God that his mercies are new every morning, and that he will finish the work that he has started in me!
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these there is no law."
The fruits of the spirit rightly begins by listing love. Out of all the fruits listed, is is the one through which all others must flow. Love without works is shallow; but works without love are simply done to make us feel good about ourselves, righteous, or proud that we are better than so-and-so. I love how Amy Carmichael puts it; "You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
There are two words for "love" in the original manuscripts of the bible, "Agapao" and "Phileo". Agapao means to love dearly, while Phileo is a less intense "fondness or friendship". I found it interesting earlier to discover that when Jesus ask Peter "do you love me?", he used the word "Agapao", and the first two times when Peter replied, he answered "Lord, you know that I love (Phileo) you." It was the third time, when Peter was deeply grieved at the repeated question, that he answered in passion that he Agapao loved him, and Jesus gave him his finally instructions. I have heard that the question repeated three times was a reminder of Peter's denial of Christ three times, but after reading that, I think it was also a reminder that only our deepest love will do for Christ. Does he have our whole heart? Do we delight in his word, love to talk to him, and sing his praises at every opportunity? God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued to extend faithful love to you." (Jeremiah 31:3).
God's love is everlasting! Nothing can separate us from him! And Christ calls us to imitate him in spreading the love of our heavenly father, through the love that will overspill from the gift he gives to us at conversion, as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:2; "Walk in love as the Messiah also loved us". This love of the Messiah was shown when "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, while we were yet dead in our trespasses made us alive together in Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5). Christ has so much love for us. How can we not share that love with others?! It may be through helping your little brother up after he falls. It may be by sharing encouragement with a friend who is going through a difficult time. It may be by sharing the gospel with someone who does not know about the love that our Lord had for them- the same love that he has shown me.
But no matter what you do to show that love, remember this: "Greater love hath no man than this, that he laid down his life for his friends." Christ loved. Not to get anything... he was killed while showing his love. Not when it was easy... he was separated from the Father. Not when he felt like it... he plead for God to find another way. Not because we loved him... but because he loved us. Christ's love asks for nothing in return. Likewise, we should never ask for anything in return... and EVERYthing we do should be filled with love. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things", 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
This is very convicting to me, as I know that there are so many ways that I still need Christ's work in my life to bring me to a place where I even partially copy his love as he asks. But that's another aspect of God's love... he gives grace to us sinners and continues to grow us!
You'll want to go to my friend Katie's blog post about love, and see what she felt lead to share today as well :)! What is you favorite verse about Christ's love for us or his commands for showing it to others?
In the words of Jude 2, "May mercy, peace, and *love* be multiplied to you" :)!!!