Written by Jonathan Bremer. Media by Cord Buchanan.
If you grew up in Sunday school, it is very likely that you have heard of the fruits of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
We know that these spiritual fruits found in Galatians are essential to the Christian Life. We also know that it is essential that we plant the seeds of these fruits if we are to harvest them. It is like Farmville. You find the seeds, you plant them, and you harvest them. It seems simple enough, right? Not to mention, you get to do so without the millions of messages and requests reminding you to gift your friend water. All jokes aside, the Bible makes it quite clear that how we fertilize or tend to our crops, the fruits of our spirit directly impact the type of fruit we produce.
The spiritual fruit we are going to talk about this week is Love. An abstract concept that is often oversimplified to a singular emotion. We are told by the world to love who we want and love what we do. But is that really love? Is love so easily boiled down to something as fleeting as an emotion? So often, society takes our infatuations or “passing fancies” and labels it under the file “it must be love!”
What is love, actually?
Well, first let us talk about what love is not. Love is not romance or infatuation. Love is not a fleeting emotion that comes and goes when we decide if we “like” someone or not. But even so, objectively defining love is not so simple. So rather than discuss what we think love is, let us read what scripture says about love and what love looks like.
1 Corinthians 13:4 says,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
Here, Paul is writing to the Corinthian church, reminding them of the value of love. Earlier in the first 3 verses of this chapter, he says
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
Here, Paul emphasizes that human eloquence and righteousness in the absence of love is worthless. Scripture tells us that love is an essential component of everything we do – And yet, we find it so easy to get caught up in a kind of “checklist Christianity.” It is important to remember that checking off boxes for the sake of doing righteous deeds is pointless. That is progress earned in the eyes of the world – and acts of love are worthless if done for the applause of man. Such actions are not ones of love, but of self-glorification.
Let us strive to be growers of the fruits of the spirit. Let us cultivate our spirits and be equipped to intentionally act out of love.