A Study of the Fruit of the Spirit, Part One: Love
The age we live in is an age of inconsistencies. We live with far more means to communicate than ever before and yet we seem more isolated and alone. We live in a time where knowledge is available at the fingertips of anyone with internet access and yet we are just as easily deceived as ever, if not more so.
In such a time as this, when so many different voices strive to influence anyone who might listen, when confusion and disillusion abound, it is all the more essential for the people of God to define their reality and their convictions by the Word of God.
On May 1, I shared a sermon about the Fruits of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23:
As we read these Holy words, even now, we know that they do not mean the same thing to all those who read them. Far too often those who read these words, here or elsewhere, understand them by their own definitions—definitions that spring from what they personally deem comfortable, acceptable and supportive of their chosen beliefs and lifestyles.
The Christ-follower must not think in this way.
Instead, it behooves us to seek the Scriptures themselves for the objectively true definitions of these nine Character Traits of the Holy Spirit. God the Spirit desires and wills to bear these fruits into each of the lives He fills and transforms. To bear them to such a degree that these things become the evidential manifestation of the Most High in the life of the Christian.
The Word of God is our guide. The Word is objective reality in a world of subjective reasoning.
In this and in my following Pastor’s Pens, I will explore each fruit of the Spirit. We will purposefully distance our understanding of the fruits of the Spirit from the popular, and often contradictory and agenda-driven, definitions our culture gives. We shall instead seek for the Scriptures themselves to interpret these most crucial and precious evidences.
We will begin as Paul does—with “Love.”
The English language has but one word for love and it can have a plethora of definitions. Rather than spend our time delving into those understandings, let’s look at the Greek word Paul, inspired by the Spirit, uses here. That word is “Agape.” Agape is pure, selfless, self-sacrificial love. It is the love expressed by God toward mankind in the giving of His Son (John 3:16). It is the love of the Son who lays down His life of His own accord (John 10:18). This is the love that fulfills the greatest commandment. Loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). It is the sacrificial love for the neighbor that cares for the needs of the neighbor as though those needs were their own (12:31).
Interestingly enough, we find the same root word used by Jesus in Matthew 5:43-48:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This Fruit of the Spirit is a love that considers not the selfish desires of the lover. This is love manifested even toward the enemies of the lover and indeed to the enemies of God Himself. This love is true and genuine evidence of the Spirit of God dwelling within the Christian. Why is this love evidence? Because this love is impossible within the limited human nature. This is the love of 1 Corinthian 13. That magnifies not the lover themselves, but God Himself. The depth of this love makes it apparent that no such love could come from one who is not empowered, moved, and motivated by God.
As we will see in the coming articles, when we look at the definitions of the Fruits of the Spirit as understood by the Scriptures, it becomes apparent that not one of these fruits, these divine character traits, these evidences of the indwelling, are possible to manifest apart from the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. Though we acknowledge their beauty and long to know these fruits, they are impossible for any of us to manifest in our own strength. But all things are possible with God.
From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Pastor Brian TorresJune 1, 2022