Love – One of 9 Fruits of the Spirit

Love

Fruit for Freedom

Paul encourages us, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” And “You were called to freedom; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” And “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:1, 13, 16 NASB)

Paul lists the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit to show the contrast, stating, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.” (vs. 17) And Paul continues his encouragement, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (vs. 25)

“We must remember that this [spiritual] fruit is produced to be eaten, not to be admired and put on display. People around us are starving for love, joy, peace, and all the other graces of the Spirit. We do not bear fruit for our own consumption; we bear fruit that others might be fed and helped, and that Christ might be glorified.” [WBC 576]

“Paul writes that the fruit of the Spirit is not plural. These character attributes do not function independently. They are a cluster of attributes that cannot be divided. One cannot have a little bit of love, a lot of joy, and no gentleness. To have the Spirit is to bear the fruit of the Spirit—all of the attributes to some degree.” [Blackaby 59]

“Paul called the Galatians to freedom. They were called to manifest their freedom in Christ through loving service to others (vv13-15). Paul builds on this idea to explain how such freedom and progress can only come through the power of the Spirit (vv16-25). The Galatians were drifting into a works-based, flesh-driven faith, but Paul calls them to a life of liberty in Christ and Spirit-filled fruitfulness.” [Platt 2073]

Works versus Fruit

“It is one thing to overcome the flesh and not do evil things, but quite something else to do good things. Negative goodness is not enough in a life; there must be positive qualities as well.”

“The contrast between works and fruit is important. A machine in a factory works and turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. Fruit must grow out of life, and, in the case of the believer, it is the life of the Spirit.”

“When you think of ‘works’ you think of effort, labor, strain, and toil; when you think of ‘fruit’ you think of beauty, quietness, the unfolding of life.”

“The flesh produces ‘dead works’ (Hebrews 9:14), but the Spirit produces living fruit and this fruit has in it the seed for still more fruit (Genesis 1:11). The Old nature cannot produce fruit; only the new nature can do that.” [WBC 575]

“The flesh may manufacture ‘results’ that bring praise to us, but the flesh cannot bear fruit that brings glory to God. It take patience, an atmosphere of the Spirit, walking in the light, the seed of the Word of God, and sincere desire to honor Christ.”

“In short, the secret is the Holy Spirit. He alone can give us freedom from sin and self. He enables us to fulfill the law of love, to overcome the flesh, and to bear fruit.” [WBC 576]

“It is possible for a person, in his own human ability and strength, to reflect [one of these attributes] from time to time, or to bless others from time to time. It is impossible to sustain these character qualities, and to sustain all of them simultaneously, without the indwelling presence of the Spirit.” [Blackaby 59]

“These virtues must flow from our union with Christ, not from our own behavior modification. We all need new hearts. Regenerate people have the power to naturally, holistically, and gradually bear fruit.” [Platt 2241]

“As we abide in Christ, all of ‘the fruits’ of the Spirit get produced. The fruit of the Spirit as a whole is basically a character sketch of Christ. What is the Spirit doing in us? He is conforming us into the image of Jesus, the One who perfectly embodied love and every other virtue mentioned.” [Platt 2234]

God’s Love through Jesus to Us

“Beloved, let’s love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-8, 11 WEB)

“But God commends His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 WEB)

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 WEB)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 WEB)

God’s Love through Us to Others

“By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 WEB)

“By this we know love, because he laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16 WEB)

“The fruit of the Spirit listed in our passage has to do with character. It is important that we distinguish the gift of the Spirit which is salvation (Acts 2:38; 11:17), and the gifts of the Spirit which have to do with service (1 Corinthians 12), and the graces of the Spirit, which relate to Christian character. It is unfortunate that an overemphasis on gifts has led some Christians to neglect the graces of the Spirit. Building Christian character must take precedence over displaying special abilities.” [WBC 575-6]

“The characteristics that God wants in our lives are seen in the ninefold fruit of the Spirit. The cultivation of the fruit is important. Paul warns that there must be a right atmosphere before the fruit will grow. Just as fruit cannot grow in every climate, so the fruit of the Spirit cannot grow in every individual’s life or in every church.”

“Fruit grows in a climate blessed with an abundance of the Spirit and the Word. ‘Walk in the Spirit’ means ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ – not to run ahead and not to lag behind. This involves the Word, prayer, worship, praise, and fellowship with God’s people. It also means ‘pulling out the weeds’ so that the seed of the Word can take root and bear fruit.” [WBC 576]

The Holy Spirit produces one kind of fruit, that is, Christlikeness. ~William MacDonald

Christlike Fruit

“The list of vices is contrasted with a list of nine virtues. Paul is showing where the power for love comes from: the Spirit. Paul says ‘fruit’ not ‘fruits.’ This probably points to the fact that all of these collectively make up Christlikeness.”

“As we abide in Christ, all of ‘the fruits’ of the Spirit get produced. The fruit of the Spirit as a whole is basically a character sketch of Christ. What is the Spirit doing in us? He is conforming us into the image of Jesus, the One who perfectly embodied love and every other virtue mentioned.” [Platt 2231-2234]

“Note that fruit is singular, not plural. The Holy Spirit produces one kind of fruit, that is, Christlikeness. All the virtues now listed describe the life of the child of God. Love is what God is, and what we [need] to be.” [MacDonald 1924]

“In giving the Galatians a character portrait of the godly life, the apostle Paul was also giving the Galatians a portrait of the Holy Spirit! The character traits produced in the Christian are the traits of the Spirit. These are the same character traits of Christ Jesus, and of God the Father.”

“God’s nature is what is being replicated in the person who believes in Jesus and seeks to be led by the Spirit. The fruit that is born in the believer’s life is fruit that the Spirit produces. It is not fruit that can be manufactured by the believer’s will, intellect, desire, or effort. It is fruit that is produced as a person ‘walks in the Spirit’ and seeks to be led by the Spirit.” [Blackaby 58]

“The point is that life in the Spirit brings a whole new way of life. This does not mean that you have freedom to sin, but a freedom from sin. You have new desires and a new power to please God by bearing the fruit of the Spirit.” [Platt 2149]

Examining Our Walk

“How do you know if you are walking by the Spirit? We know by examining our fruit. Again, we’re not talking about fleshly works, we are talking about bearing fruit.”

“It is significant that the apostle distinguishes between the works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit. Works are produced by human energy. Fruit it grown as a branch abides in the vine (John 15:5). They differ as a factory and a garden differ.” [MacDonald 1924]

“What God is looking for in the believer is faith working through love. Faith is complete dependence on God. Faith is not idle; it manifests itself in unselfish service to God and man. The motive of all such service is love. Thus faith works through love; it is prompted by love, not by law. God is not interested in rituals, but in the reality of a godly life (Galatians 5:6).” [MacDonald 1921]

“The passage basically divides into three main parts. First in verses 16-18, Paul describes the need to walk by the Spirit. Second, in verses 19-23, he highlights the evidences of a life lived in the flesh versus a life lived in the Spirit. Third, in verse 24, Paul says that those who truly ‘belong to Christ’ have put to death the desires of the flesh, giving them power to deal with the remaining effects of the flesh.” [Platt 2078]

“Do not live under the crushing weight of the law, but live by the dynamic power of the Spirit.” [Platt 2149]

“Those who come to faith in Christ by grace alone are new people (Galatians 6:15). While they will still wrestle with sin, the flesh will not dominate them. They have new desires and new power to live. Our good works do not save us, but true salvation leads to fruitfulness and faithfulness.” [Platt 2213]

“It is possible for the old nature to counterfeit some of the fruit of the Spirit, but the flesh can never produce the fruit of the Spirit. When the Spirit produces fruit, God gets the glory and the Christian is not conscious of his spirituality; but when the flesh is at work, the person is inwardly proud of himself and is pleased when others complement him. The work of the Spirit is to make us more like Christ for His glory, not for the praise of men.” [WBC 576]

“Since we have eternal life by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, let us live out the new life by the power of the same Spirit. The law never could give life, and was never intended to be the Christian’s rule of life (Galatians 5:25).” [MacDonald 1925]

Now we will look at Paul’s list of fleshly fruit and his list of spiritual fruit.

Fruit of the Flesh (Fleshly Deeds)

In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul states the practices of the flesh are evident, clear or obvious. I list them here in alphabetical order:

  • Carousing – drinking hard [W] Those who cannot control their appetites obviously demonstrate a life dominated by the flesh, not the Spirit. [P] Revelries are riotous gatherings for entertainment, accompanied by drunkenness. [MD] Sin against ourselves. [MH]
  • Disputes – an attempt to prove and maintain one’s own opinions by arguments or statements in opposition to the opinions or claims of another. [W][They had a dispute on the lawfulness of slavery, a subject which, one would think, could admit of no dispute. ~Webster] Selfish ambitions denotes ‘office seeking’ and Paul addresses preachers preaching with impure motives such as ‘out of rivalry, not sincerely’ which suggests evidences of living by the flesh, not the Spirit. [P] Selfish ambitions are self-centered striving to be ‘number one,’ even at other’s expense. [MD] Sin against our neighbor, and contrary to the law of love…and sometimes can break out into murders, not only of the names and reputation, but even of the very lives, of our fellow-creatures. [MH]
  • Dissensions – a disagreement which is violent as in differences which produce war; quarrel [W] Dissentions or divisions. Paul warns us not to ‘bite and devour one another’ for the Spirit brings unity, but the flesh brings division. [P] Dissensions are separations caused by disagreements. [MD]
  • Drunkenness – intoxication; a state in which a person is overpowered by liquor [W] Those who cannot control their appetites obviously demonstrate a life dominated by the flesh, not the Spirit. [P] Drunkenness refers to intoxication caused by strong drink. [MD] Sin against ourselves. [MH]
  • Envying – to feel uneasiness or discontent or fret or grieve one’s self at the real or supposed superiority or success or happiness enjoyed by another, and to hate him on that account. Envy springs from pride or ambition and mortification that another has obtained what one has a strong desire to possess. [W] Envy is similar to jealousy. The envious person is not happy with God’s gifts and cannot stand it when others succeed. [P] Envy is displeasure at the success of prosperity of others. Envy is specifically the sin of wanting something that belongs to someone else to which one has no right or claim. Envy begrudges another person’s success, talents, possessions, or good looks. This is foreign to grace. [MD]
  • Factions – discord or violent commotion [W] Factions stands for false teachings that create division where there should be no division. [P] Heresies are sects formed by men with self-willed opinions. [MD]
  • Hatred/Enmities – a fixed or rooted hatred; the quality of being an enemy; ill will [W] Hatreds refers to enmity of any kind. It is at the root of conflict. [P] Hatred means strong feelings of malice directed toward individuals. [MD] Some sins are against our neighbor, and contrary to the royal law of love, such as hatred, variance (disagreement), emulations (rivalry), wrath, strife, which too often occasion seditions (commotions), heresies (error in essential doctrines of religion or law), envying’s, and sometimes break out into murders, not only of names and reputation, but even of the very lives, of our fellow-creatures. [MH]
  • Idolatry – the worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God. [W] A fruitless religion; everyone worships someone or something; those engaged in idolatry are refusing to worship the true and living God; worship of created things instead of the Creator God. Idolatry is a heart issue. People commit idolatry when they look to something other than God to give them what only God can give them. [P] Idolatry is not only the worship of idols, but also immorality that accompanies demon worship. [MD] Sin against the first and second commandments (no other god/no idols), as idolatry and witchcraft. [MH]
  • Immorality – any act or practice which contradicts the divine commands or the social duties; all crimes are immoralities. [W] Emphasizes lack of restraint and unbridled passions; it is the opposite of love; it displays self-centeredness; grieves the Holy Spirit; it violates God’s pure plan for marriage; it dishonors those made in the image of God. [P] Adultery is unfaithfulness in the marriage relationship. Fornication is unlawful sexual intercourse. Lewdness is shameless conduct involving absence of restraint. [MD]
  • Impurity – unholy; defiled by sin or guilt [W] Emphasizes lack of restraint and unbridled passions; it is the opposite of love; it displays self-centeredness; grieves the Holy Spirit; it violates God’s pure plan for marriage; it dishonors those made in the image of God. [P]
  • Jealousy – suspicious that we do not enjoy the affection or respect of others, or that another is more loved and respected than ourselves; suspiciously fearful. Jealously destroys peace. [W] A jealous person wants what someone else possesses. This sin often leads to other sins like bitterness and violence. Those who are jealous demonstrate a lack of gratitude to God for His providence and a lack of love for others. [P] Jealousies are distrust, suspicions. [MD]
  • Outbursts of Anger – a violent passion of the mind excited by a real or supposed injury; usually accompanied with a propensity to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party. This passion however varies in degrees of violence, and may be attended only with a desire to reprove the offender. [W] It refers to the eruption of a person with an uncontrolled temper. We should not try to excuse this sin by making it a personality trait or a cultural trait. Paul says it is a work of the flesh. [P] Wrath is outbursts of hot anger or passions. [MD]
  • Sensuality – devoted to the gratification of the bodily appetites; free indulgence in carnal or sensual pleasures. [W] Emphasizes lack of restraint and unbridled passions; it is the opposite of love; it displays self-centeredness; grieves the Holy Spirit; it violates God’s pure plan for marriage; it dishonors those made in the image of God. [P] Uncleanness is moral evil, sensuality. [MD] Some sins are against the seventh commandment (not commit adultery), such as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, by which are meant not only the gross acts of these sins, but all such thoughts and words, and actions, as have a tendency towards the great transgression. [MH]
  • Sorcery – magic; enchantment, witchcraft; divination by the assistance of evil spirits. [W] A fruitless religion; sorcery involves the practice of trying to manipulate circumstances or dark powers to bring about a desired goal rather than submitting to and trusting in God alone. This is the work of the flesh. [P] Sorcery is witchcraft. [MD]
  • Strife – exertion for superiority; quarrel or war. [W] Strife means to have contentious temper. [P] Contentions are discord, quarrels. [MD]

[MD=MacDonald 1923-25; MH= Matthew Henry; P=Platt 2158-2213; W=Webster’s]

Paul gives fifteen concrete examples of the deeds of the flesh, concluding with the phrase ‘things like these’ (5:21). He could easily have listed more. Swindoll narrows Paul’s list of fifteen sins into four major categories:

  • Sexual sin – uncontrolled lust, adultery, fornication, other sexual practices, prostitution, and pornography
  • Religious sin – occult involvement, false religions, new age spirituality, superstition, and idolatrous materialism
  • Social sin – things that are destructive to our families, churches, and communities, such as slander, gossip, harboring bitterness, bearing grudges, taking revenge, road rage, refusing to forgive, unjust or unnecessary lawsuits, and physical or verbal abuse
  • Personal sin – sins against one’s own body, such as drug addiction, workaholism, alcoholism, barhopping, gluttony, and other forms of self-destructive behavior.

“Paul says that people who ‘practice’ these deeds of the flesh ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (5:21). Paul means that those whose lifestyles continually demonstrate indulgence in the deeds of the flesh do not have the Spirit of God. Paul’s point is that because these lifestyles of sin typify those who do not know Christ. And we are not just to avoid the bad: those who have the Spirit [need to] display quite a different set of characteristics, the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (5:22-23).” [Swindoll 125-126]

“God’s Word tells us that any lack of character virtue is not a matter of an isolated deficiency of one godly attribute—rather, it reflects the truth that the person has not crucified his old nature (5:24). Our prayer must be, ‘Help me, God, to walk in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit and to live in the Spirit!’ You see, ‘if the Spirit is the source of our live, (we must) let the Spirit also direct our course’ (5:25). If we want more fruit of the Spirit to be displayed through our lives, we must allow the Spirit freedom to work in our lives.” [Blackaby 59]

Help me, God, to walk in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit and to live by the Spirit! ~Blackaby

Transitioning from Fleshly to Spiritual Fruit

“The Spirit grows us gradually and painfully. He produces fruit over time, as we yield to the Spirit and put to death the flesh.” [Platt 2283]

“We do not need the law to restrain our behavior, since we ‘have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires’ (v. 24). When people intentionally, purposefully trust in Christ alone for salvation (have crucified), they are uniting themselves with Christ and saying no to their life in Adam. This death to the flesh brings about a new creation and a deliverance from the present evil age (1:4).”

“While believers still feel the temptation to sin, fleshly passions no longer have to reign. The good news is that because you belong to Jesus, you do not have to be dominated by the flesh. You and the flesh have parted ways. Something has already happened decisively at the cross.” [Platt 2290-2293]

“To live by the Spirit is to have new life- the equivalent of salvation. We could paraphrase 25a this way: ‘Since the Spirit has made us alive…’ It naturally follows that if the Spirit gave life, we should follow (walk by) Him. To follow Him entails forsaking fleshly habits (i.e. being boastful, envying).” [Moody 1840]

“It is not enough that we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well. Our Christianity obliges us not only to die unto sin, but to live unto righteousness; not only to oppose the works of the flesh, but to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit too.” [MH]

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit; that is, ‘If we profess to have received the Spirit of Christ, or that we are renewed in the Spirit of Christ, or that we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and endued with a principle of spiritual life, let us make it appear by the proper fruits of the Spirit in our lives.’ The fruits of the Spirit have a tendency to make Christians agreeable to one another.”  [MH]

“Christian liberty does not permit sin; it rather encourages loving service. Love is seen as the motive of all Christian behavior, whereas under the law, the motive is fear of punishment. The Christian’s freedom is in Christ Jesus (2:4), and this excludes any possible thought that it might ever mean freedom to sin. We must never turn our freedom into a base of operations for the flesh (5:13).” [MacDonald 1922]

“The believer [is to] walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. To walk in (or by) the Spirit is to allow Him to have His way. It is to remain in communion with Him. It is to make decisions in the light of His holiness. It is to be occupied with Christ, because the Spirit’s ministry is to engage the believer with the Lord Jesus. When we walk in the Spirit, the flesh, or self-life, is treated as dead. We cannot be occupied at the same time with Christ and sin (5:16).” [MacDonald 1922-23]

“The Spirit and the flesh are in constant conflict. God gave us His own Holy Spirit to indwell us. God’s Spirit and our flesh are perpetually at war, and will continue to be at war until we are taken home to heaven. The believer’s part in the conflict is to yield to the Spirit (5:17).” [MacDonald 1923]

Fruit of the Spirit

“The spirit produces fruit which consists of nine characteristics or attitudes that are inextricably linked with each other and are commanded of believers throughout the New Testament.” [MacArthur 1676]

The Holy Spirit brings forth the Fruit of the Spirit when we yield to Him:

Fruit of the Spirit

Love – benevolence or the disposition to do good; good will.

Joy – gladness; a delight of the mind; to rejoice exceedingly; excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire.

Peace – a state of quiet; quietness of mind or conscience; calmness; freedom from disturbance or agitation as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety or the like.

Patience – the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, or from Christian submission to the divine will; the act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent; perseverance; the quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.

Kindness – act of good will; any act of benevolence which promotes the happiness or welfare of others, exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; charity, hospitality, attentions to the wants of others are deemed acts of kindness. Kindness ever accompanies love.

Goodness – the state of being good; acts of kindness, benevolence, compassion or mercy; humanity exercised; benevolence of nature.

Faithfulness – firm adherence to allegiance and duty; truth; firmness of mind or unshaken determination in affection; strict performance of promises, vows or covenants.

Gentleness – tenderness; softness of manners; mildness of temper; sweet disposition; meekness, humility.

Self-Control – self-restraint; restrained by itself, or by one’s own power or will and not controlled by external force or authority. [Webster’s 1828]

“What a contrast between works and fruit! Fruit is the result of a living union. The Law produces works, but God calls them dead works (Hebrews 6:1). The Law could never produce the gracious fruit described here.” [WEO 529]

“Paul’s first admonition was ‘Stand fast!’ Now he says, ‘Walk in the Spirit!’ Our standing in Christ determines our walk in Christ.” [WEO 529]

“The words ‘flesh’ and Spirit’ are each found ten times in chapters 5-6. Those who live according to the law depend on the energy of the flesh; those who live by grace depend on the power of the Spirit. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to have our daily lives under His control, and this means under the direction of the Word of God. To be ‘led of the Spirit’ means to be delivered from a life of bondage to legalism.” [WEO 529]

“‘The flesh’ refers to the fallen nature still with the believer. The body itself is not sinful; appetites are not necessarily sinful, but the tendencies of the old nature are downward. In Romans 6, Paul tells us that the old man has been crucified and that we can overcome the flesh by reckoning ourselves dead to sin and by yielding ourselves to God. Here in Galatians, Paul spells out the conflict between the believer’s two natures. Paul amplifies this theme in Romans 7, where he shows that the believer’s determined attempts to please God in his own strength are destined to fail.” [WEO 529]

“We are saved (justified) by grace through faith alone. Doing good works or obedience to the law is not the means by which we receive salvation. Good fruit flows from the Spirit. We do good things because God saved us by His grace; we don’t do good things in order to achieve salvation. By god’s grace, our faith in Jesus is credited to us as righteousness. We are no longer slaves to [Jewish] rituals, laws, and observances. Our good works are important…because they show the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.” [BO 218]

“Christian character comes from within, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit seeks to transform us into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29, 12:1-2).  If we ‘live in the Spirit’ (this is salvation, being made alive by the Spirit), ‘let us also walk in the Spirit’ (this is sanctification, allowing the Spirit to command and control our lives). To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Word of God, for the results are identical (Ephesians 5:18-24; Colossians 3:15-19). “Walking in the Spirit’ is not some emotional experience, detached from everyday life. It is the daily experience of the believer who feeds on the Word, prays, and obeys what the Bible says.” [WEO 530]

“‘Fruit’ benefits the believer and those that he or she encounters. They enhance and enlarge the believer’s life and build up a believer’s relationships. When expressed, they always build up the church. The Holy Spirit can enable every believer to live a godly life and reflect God’s nature.” [Blackaby 59]

Path of Victory

“Liberty and freedom need to result in love, not legalism or license.

Legalism is being “subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:11)

License is “an opportunity for the flesh.” (Galatians 5:13b)

Liberty is when we “were called to freedom.” (Galatians 5:13e)

Therefore, we:

  • Consciously, consistently, and courageously say no to sin.
  • Repeatedly remind ourselves of who we are in Christ.
  • Pursue His will, His desires, and His calling, no matter the cost.
  • Forsake our own weaknesses and depend on His strength.

By living a life of service through love, we avoid legalism and license.” [Swindoll]

Love Defined

Webster’s defines love as “benevolence, good will, and an affection of mind excited by beauty and worth of any kind, or by the qualities of an object which communicate pleasure, sensual or intellectual. Love is excited by pleasing qualities of any kind, as by kindness, benevolence, charity, and by the qualities which render social interaction agreeable. The Love of God springs from just views of His attributes or excellencies of character, which afford the highest delight to the sanctified heart.”

God is love. Recently we looked at 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter. It speaks of what love is and what love is not.

Love Is…

Patient

Kind

Rejoices with the Truth

Keeps every confidence

Believes all things

Hopes all things

Endures all things

Love never fails

Love is greater than faith and hope

 Love Is Not…

Jealous

Does not Brag

Does not act disgracefully

Does not seek its own benefit

Provoked

Does not keep account of a wrong suffered

Does not rejoice in unrighteousness

Foundational Thoughts on Love

“It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul attributes to love all the fruits of the Spirit. He lets love stand by itself among other fruits of the Spirit to remind the Christians to love one another, ‘in honor preferring one another,’ to esteem others more than themselves because they have Christ and the Holy [Spirit] within them.” [Luther 165]

“Paul exhorts us to not use our liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love to serve one another. He recommends to us, love, to God especially, and to one another for His sake.” [MH]

“Agape love does not refer to an emotional affection, physical attraction, or a familial bond, but to respect, devotion, and affection that leads to willing, self-sacrificial service.” [MacArthur 1676]

“The secret is the Holy Spirit. He alone can give us freedom from sin and self. He enables us to fulfill the law of love, to overcome the flesh, and to bear fruit.” [WBC 576]

“Spirit led believers express a sincere love for others (1 John 3:11-18) and express their love for God, who ‘first loved us’ (1 John 4:19).” [Platt 2247]

“Serving others out of love frees us from our own self-centeredness. It humbles our pride. It has the power to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. Love brings us into the fullness of God’s purpose for our lives. In fact, love itself transcends the dos and don’ts of law, rendering them irrelevant. Love also limits our natural tendencies to sin, rendering them impotent.” [Swindoll]

Words of Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB) God showed His love by sending Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins and gave us victory over our flesh, the enemy and sin’s temptations. Then God sent us His Holy Spirit who empowers us to live a life of love and victory.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can lay down our lives for our families and others in prayer, in loving acts of service, by giving emotional support, by giving financial provision, and in many other expressive ways. There is no limit to God’s love. And there is no limit to the expression of God’s love to us and through us to others.

When we give our love and acts of service as unto the Lord, then we are freed from expecting a response from others or from being wounded by other’s non-response or unkind response. The Lord calls us to walk in love. We hope others walk in love towards us, but even if they don’t, we are to freely give others our love as unto Him.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB)

And, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17 NASB)

This enables us to joyfully give our love freely to others and to freely serve others – expecting nothing in return – because we are giving our love to Him and receiving His love and receiving our reward from Him. Because all love ultimately flows from Him and to Him, we can partner with Him in loving others and leave all the earthly results to Him.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NASB)

Love Conquers All

Thank you, Lord, that Your Love conquers “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword” and “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35b, 37-39)

Thank you, Lord, for enabling us to set aside the fruits and deeds of the flesh. Thank you, Lord, for enabling us to walk in the Spirit and to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for first loving us, then empowering us to love others. We desire to bear spiritual fruit and for our spiritual fruit to remain. Amen.

Now may “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NASB)

Recommendations

You can read about Love as a garment we wear Love – One of 8 Garments to Wear – Strength with Dignity

You can also read about the 4 Types of Love that C.S. Lewis mentioned and what love is and is not from 1 Corinthians 13 4 Types of Love – Strength with Dignity

Bible References

John 3:16, 15:13; Romans 5:8, 8:35b, 37-39; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 3:1, 13, 16; Colossians 3:17, 23-24; 1 John 3:16, 4:7-11

Scripture references can be found at Bible Gateway https://www.biblegateway.com/

References

Bible Overview. [BO] Published by Rose Publishing, 2012, page 218.

Blackaby, Henry, Richard, Thomas, Melvin and Norman. Encounters with God – The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians. Thomas Nelson, 2008. [Kindle Edition]

Luther, Martin. Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. Written in 1535 in Latin. Translated by Theodore Graebner. This book is in the public domain. The Kindle edition was published March 24, 2011.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Published by Thomas Nelson, 2005, page 1676.

MacDonald, William. The Believer’s Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 2016, pages 1920-1927.

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. [MH] Originally written in 1706. Kindle Edition published November 7, 2010.

New American Standard Bible. Copyright 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

Platt, David and Tony Merida. Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Galatians. Published by B&H Publishing Group, 2014. [Kindle Edition]

Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Living Insights – New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians. Tyndale House Publishing, Inc., 2015. [Kindle Edition]

 The Fruit of the Spirit. Rose Publishing, 2004. [Updated April 2018] [Kindle Edition]

 The Moody Bible Commentary. Published by The Moody Bible Institute. General Editors: Michael Rydelnik and Michael Van Laningham. Moody Publishers, 2014, page 1840.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved September 3, 2021, from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/

Wiersbe, Warren B. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Complete New Testament. [WBC] Published by David C. Cook, 2007, pages 575-576.

Wiersbe, Warren B. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. [WEO] Published by David C. Cook, 1992, pages 529-530.

World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.

Note: Bible Scriptures were retrieved August 20, 2021 from https://www.biblegateway.com #bgbg2 #BibleGateway #BibleStudy

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6 thoughts on “Love – One of 9 Fruits of the Spirit”

  1. Lisa, thank you for an excellent picture of biblical love. This world leads us astray with false pictures of love that can never fill our souls with the true love of God. I rejoice in His love that enables us to love, give and serve others the way He intended. And one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Romans 8:31-39 caresses my heart with the truth that nothing can separate me from that perfect love in Christ.

  2. Lisa, that God has given us His Spirit and the fruit of His presence in our lives is such an amazing gift. May we never tire of going deeper in our love for Him, allowing Him to live that fruit through us.

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