Welcome to Day 3 of our 3M Fast and Part 2 of our Devotional on Love as seen in Galatians 5:22 – 23 regarding “The Fruit of the Spirit.”
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22 – 23
The Bible teaches us that “God is love” according to 1 John 4:8 and that God expressed His love for mankind by sending His son, Jesus, into this world to give us an opportunity to have our sins forgiven and to enter an eternal relationship with God. In the Gospel of John, chapter 3 verse 16 tells us
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
It’s important to note that this Agape love that God gave to us was not dependent on our goodness or value. He chose to give this love even when we didn’t deserve to be loved.
In Ephesians, 2:4-5, Paul writes
“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved.”
“Jesus replied, ‘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 neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus was asked one day which commandment was the greatest. Of the original Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, the religious Jews had added thousands of commandments. This was a loaded question that was asked to trap Jesus. His response was so powerful that the person who asked Jesus had to admit to the wisdom Jesus had shown. Jesus’ response was simple; Love God, Love yourself, Love your neighbor. Jesus is trying to convey that love starts with the vertical (toward God), then moves to the inward (love for self) and then to the horizontal (love for others). When we open our hearts to God’s love, His Spirit comes to live within us.
The Spirit of God then teaches us to have a proper love for ourselves which then allows us to love others. The kind of love that God wants us to have for Him, ourselves, and our neighbor is totally impossible through human effort alone. It can only happen through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I remember right before I proposed to Cynthia 38 years ago, I had a conversation with my mentor to get his advice about my impending nuptials. Out of all that he shared with me, I remember one piece of advice that I will never forget. He told me that in order to have a successful marriage, two people had to be willing to be vulnerable. I did not like that statement. As a result of my own hurts and disappointments in relationships, I protected my heart. I had promised myself I would not let anyone hurt me again. But I have come to learn that those words are so true. There is no love without vulnerability. Love is security in vulnerability. I am so secure in being vulnerable because of the Holy Spirit within. The moment we open our hearts to love someone, we take the risk of being used, abused, and possibly broken. But Jesus would have us to know that people are worth the risk! When we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can begin to truly love people; some of whom will not return that love. Unfortunately, there are many who do not know how to live in a spirit of love. They need someone to demonstrate God’s love in the flesh.
Paul tells us that “The love of Christ compels us” in 2 Corinthians 5:14. Here, Paul is declaring that it is God’s love within us that motivates us to look for unmet needs around us and meet those needs. Let me ask you. Some people say that they can love God without any change to their behavior. What do you think loving God, yourself and others should look like in your life? (Check out John 14:21 and 15:9-10) As you look at the people around you, are there some unmet needs that God can meet through you? If so, what steps could you take to initiate the expression of God’s love to that person?