fruit of the Spirit - love

Galatians 5 v 22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” 

I love camping, I love Netflix, I love coffee….. how many times do you say you love something each day?  We use the word love all the time, it is a really strong and powerful emotion especially when we use it when talking about loving our friends or family.

But when we think about love in the Bible, it is not how we usually think about love; it is not a romantic love, not a feeling or an emotion, it’s an action and choice. 

What do I mean by action and choice?
Think of time when someone really annoyed or upset you.  How did you react?  Did you lash out in anger, saying something hurtful or argumentative back?  Did you walk away thinking hurtful thoughts even if you didn’t say them out loud?  Did you think about revenge? 

Or did you react in love rather than anger?  Did you forgive?

The Holy Spirit helps us to love.  Instead of reacting with jealousy, gossip, malice or even hatred, the Spirit helps us to respond with love.  This type of love is love that is given freely without the giver expecting anything back and without looking at whether the other person deserves it.  It is a deliberate choice to show love and to act in a Christ-like way.  It is the choice to be kind, to consider others above ourselves and be deliberate in our goodwill and devotion to others, even those we find hard to get along with.

But how can I do this?
The first and more important thing to remember is that we can’t possibly do this on our own.  It is only through staying connected to God and through the power of the Holy Spirit inside us that we are able to grow and show true unconditional love. 

In John 13:34-35 Jesus told the disciples:

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

When someone upsets or wrongs us we must be willing to forgive and love that person, just as God has loved us.  This can be hard, letting go of hurtful words or actions can be tough but pray that God will help you to forgive and love the person.  Pray that He will help you to see them through His eyes and cultivate the fruit of love in your heart. Spend time reading and studying God’s Word to stay close to Him and to respond with love to all situations.    

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