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The Fruit of the Spirit - Love

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The Fruit of the Spirit is Love

1 John 4: 7-21

 

Galatians 5: 22-23 (NRSV)

 

The Fruit of the Spirit

 

… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control…

 

     Today, we are going to begin examining the different components in this listing of Spiritual Fruit. We will continue to do this over the summer months…taking a breaking next week to celebrate VBS.

     Before we begin, however, I want to take a moment to point something out to you. I said last week that the Fruit of the Spirit is singular…not plural. We are not free to pick and choose our favorites from this listing of Spiritual Fruit…we are to display all of them in our lives. We can however, break this listing of Spiritual Fruit into 3 groups of 3…or into 3 triads as I will be calling them.

1.     The first triad is: love, joy, and peace. These relate to our attitude and our approach to God.

2.     The 2nd triad is: patience, kindness, and generosity. These relate to our attitude and our approach to others.

3.     The 3rd triad is: faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These final three things have much to say about how we should approach our individual lives and about our own individual attitudes.

     This morning we start with 1st component of the 1st triad: The Fruit of the Spirit is Love. And I want to begin by asking a question. “What is love?” I have heard many definitions of love over the years:

·        Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

·        Love is cute, snuggling puppy.

·        K-marts Father’s Day ads this year say: Nothing says I love you to a man like High Definition.

Webster’s Dictionary defines love several ways:

1.     A strong affection for another person arising out of kinship, personal ties, or from sensual desire.

2.     The object of attachment or devotion.  ( I love ice cream.)

3.     An unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another:

·        The fatherly concern of God for humankind

·        Brotherly concern for others

·        A person’s adoration of God

     Without a doubt…love is the central component of our faith. Our faith is grounded in the fact that God loved us so much that he was willing to die for us. The two greatest commandments of scripture are that we love God…and love each other. The words “love…loved…or loving” appear over 650 times in scripture. And love is the first thing listed as being a Fruit of the Spirit.

     But much that is called “love” in modern society bears no resemblance or relationship to how God would define love. We don’t’ always get to see many examples of the holy kind of love that God desires from us. But I think that today…we might have seen something that comes really close to what God intends for us when it comes to love.

     Today, we witnessed 2 people…a husband and wife…standing together in front of this congregation. These 2 people love each other deeply…they have committed their lives in love…to God and to each other. And now…their love for one another has created new love…a child. So we have witnessed not only marital love…we have also witnessed parental love. But it gets better…because we also witnessed their love for God…when they acknowledged their faith…and presented their son to be baptized. And we also witnessed our love for each other as we all stood and vowed to help Aaron’s parents raise him in the faith. But that isn’t even the best part…it gets even better. It gets better because today we witnessed God’s love for Aaron…and for Rachel and for Ed…and for all us. Today we saw a visible sign of God’s invisible grace…and that is about as good as it can get on this side of heaven.

 

     The fruit of the Spirit is love. This morning we are going to take a few minutes and see if we can come up with a better definition of the word “love.” And we will turn to the best resource available to help us find this definition…God’s holy and inspired Word. Jolissa Irish is going to read our text for us this morning…

Read Text: 1 John 4:7-21 (NRSV)

5 Dimensions of Love: 1 John 4:7–21

1.  Love is central (1 John 4:7–8).

7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

     God is love. This does not mean that “love is God.” Love does not define God…God defines love.” And because God is love, the person who shares God’s love will love. This is simply a fact; a reflection of the reality that where there is no will to love, God is absent.

The fact that two people “love each other” does not mean that their love is necessarily holy. Love, as Christians understand it, is not a human achievement; it is divine in origin, a gift from God.

God is love.   

·        He doesn’t love us because he finds us worthy of his love.

·        His love for us doesn’t depend on what we are…or who we are.

·        He loves us because that is his nature.

·        He loves us because he is that kind of a God.

This kind of love is not found everywhere, or indeed anywhere as a human achievement. We know it only because God showed it when he sent his one and only Son into the world.

2.  Love initiates (1 John 4:9–12).

9 God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

The greatest expression of God’s love is in the death of His Son.  God’s action is especially striking when we realize that it was not prompted by man’s love for God. The world’s attitude toward God was…and still is…anything but love!  God’s greatest act of love was a totally undeserved gift…an action that originated from the Divine side of the equation.

It is by love that God is known. We cannot see God, because he is spirit; what we can see is his effect. We cannot see the wind, but we can see what it can do. We cannot see electricity, but we can see the effect it produces. The effect of God is love.

Relationships in society are usually governed by reciprocity.

·        We are nice to those who are nice to us.

·        If someone invites me to lunch; I invite him or her in return.

·        If some helps me out…I help them out.

It is easy to love those who love us. Even non-Christians can do that. But love in the Christian community should be so much more. Love in the Christian community should not depend on repayment. We are to take the initiative in loving, even when the ones we reach out to do not respond.

3.  God does live in us (1 John 4:13–16).

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Our goal: To know and show the love of Christ Jesus.

That important little word abide is used six times in 1 John 4:13–16.

The verb “to witness” or “to testify”  appears here and 5 other places in 1 John.

To Abide = to know the love of Christ Jesus.

To Testify = to show the love of Christ Jesus.

4.  Love frees us from fear (1 John 4:17–18).

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

     We all deserve God’s judgment. We all deserve to live in fear of God’s anger. But God’s love transforms our relationship with God. If we are willing to embrace what Christ has done for us…then we no longer need to live in fear of punishment. Instead, we can live in peace…confident that we can face God with boldness on that final day.

5.  Love is our proper response to God (1 John 4:19–21).

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

What God is determines what we ought to be

Remember: We did not love God; God loved us. God reached out first. That is the example that we are to live…and to love…by. So, who do we love? Everybody that walks in that door. Everybody we work with. Everybody that shares the roads we drive on.

So What?

 “God is love,” then, is not simply a profound biblical statement. It is the basis for a believer’s relationship with God and with his fellowman.

Love is such an important part of the Christian life because love is the ultimate test of our spiritual life.

A Salvation Army worker found a derelict woman alone on the street and invited her to come into the chapel for help, but the woman refused to move. The worker assured her: “We love you and want to help you. God loves you. Jesus died for you.” But the woman did not budge.

As if on divine impulse, the Army lassie leaned over and kissed the woman on the cheek, taking her into her arms. The woman began to sob, and like a child was led into the chapel, where she ultimately trusted Christ.

“You told me that God loved me,” she said later, “but it wasn’t till you showed me that God loved me that I wanted to be saved.”

Jesus did not simply preach the love of God; He proved it by giving His life on the cross. He expects His followers to do likewise.

If we abide in Christ, we will abide in His love.

If we abide in His love, we must share this love with others.

The fruit of the Spirit is love. hen we look at Jesus we see two things about the love of God.

·        It is a love which holds nothing back.

·        It is a totally undeserved love.

 

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