I have recently been learning more about the fruit of the spirit, individually and collectively. What each attribute means, what it really looks like to bear each of them, and what the Bible says about each of them. So, I decided I would start a blog series on them! I’ll be highlighting one attribute every week and sharing some concepts that I have learned about them. To start us off, today we are going to focus on LOVE.
The Bible is full of verses about love: how God loves us, how God’s people love Him, and how we are to love each other. But, before we talk about how to love others, I think we need to understand what exactly love is.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
WHAT IS LOVE:
- Love is patient and kind – We’ll focus a lot more on patience in the upcoming weeks, but here we understand that when we love others, we are patient with them. We do not rush their actions or their words, and we are kind to them, as we hope they will be kind to us too.
- Love does not envy or boast – Love is not prideful. Love is humbling ourselves and boasting in the love of God, not the love of ourselves.
- Love is not arrogant or rude – Love has much to do with our actions but it also has to do with the words we use. In order to love ourselves and others, we have to use gentle and kind words, as well as loving others with our actions too.
- Love does not insist on its own way – Love is not selfish. It’s actually the complete opposite, selfless. When we look at Jesus, we can start to see how He loved. A major way He loved others was by helping and serving others.
- Love is not irritable or resentful – Love is not frustrated, annoyed, or irritated. Are we allowed to be upset about a situation? Yes. But we still have to respond in a loving manner and forgive those around us.
- Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing and rejoices with the truth- Love does not like anything evil or wicked. Love is a way of obeying God and respecting those around us.
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things – Love is having faith and hope that God is working everything out for our good. It is carrying each other’s burdens and riding the rollercoaster of life with others.
HOW DOES GOD LOVE US:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
In the first two chapters of Genesis, it talks about a time before sin came into the world. How everything was good and perfect. However, once Adam and Eve ate the fruit that they were told not to, sin came into the world. Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed God, God still loved His people that He created. He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He gave us the gift of salvation. He even gave us free will to make our own choices. God shows His love for us in the Bible multiple times.
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8
HOW ARE WE CALLED TO LOVE OTHERS:
The Bible talks much about how we are to love others, but I want to focus on two different stories that capture the way we are to love.
In the book of Genesis, we are told that God created man in His own image. He placed Adam in the garden, and God provided Adam with everything he needed including food and water. Even with all that God had given Adam, God still said “it is not good for man to be alone”. So, God took a rib from Adam and formed it into a woman.
And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed. – Genesis 2:25
Adam and Eve stood together not ashamed of one another and completely accepting of each another. To God, they were perfect because they had no sin in them. There was no evil and it was good. However, once they ate from the fruit, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and covered themselves with fig leaves.
Here’s the thing though. Adam and Eve accepted one another for who they truly were in the beginning. They were totally vulnerable with each other, yet they did not ask God “can you give me someone else to be with?” No, they stood together as one flesh and truly accepted each other for who God created them to be.
We also can see how to love others based on how Jesus loved the people around Him. Jesus served people. He healed people. He chose to fellowship with those around Him. He was fully accepting of the people He met and came to die for sinners, not for perfect and polished people.
I think in life we want loving people to be easy. We have expectations of people, and we want them to cooperate with us so that we don’t have to worry about love. We don’t have to add that to the stress list. I think when we have issues loving others, we have issues with accepting others as they truly are.
God loves us exactly the way we are. He just does not love our sin. We have to do the same for those we come in contact with.
There are totally going to be times in your life where you will not get along with others. But it’s not that you hate the person. You just hate their sin. You hate the cruel thing they did to you. You hate the gossip that they shared about you. You hate their sin. God tells us to love people, and we can still love people while hating their sin.
Jesus came to show us how to restore not only our relationship with God but also how to restore our relationships with each other. We are still able to fully know and deeply love each other. But, that starts with being vulnerable and accepting one another for who they truly are. Who God made them to be. We also have to stop hiding who we truly are and stop being ashamed of the body, the mind, and the personality that God gave each of us.
God perfectly designed you to be you. He loves you exactly the way you are. We are all messy people. We all sin and fall short, but let’s start loving each other and accepting each other for who God created us to be, inside and out.