Read: Galatians 5:22-23
I have seen so many beautiful fruit bowls. Some were wooden and basically plain and simple. Some were a little more fancy with the fruit displayed beautifully in an exquisite porcelain bowl. All served one purpose…to hold delicious apples, oranges, pears, grapes and so many other kinds of fruit. We are like fruit bowls. We are supposed to hold the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 says, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives." Notice the verse says “fruit” of the Spirit, not “fruits” of the Spirit. The writer, the Apostle Paul, was communicating that this was one piece, one single entity with many different characteristics or attributes. In other words, Christians are called to have the fruit of the spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We can’t pick and choose and only assume the attributes that are easy for us. God expects us to have them all. But, remember these attributes will never be produced by us or by what we alone do. MacLaren’s Commentary says, “These fruits, though they are the direct results of the indwelling Spirit and will never be produced without its presence, are none the less truly dependent upon our manner of receiving that Spirit and on our faithfulness and diligence in the use of its gifts.” The Holy Spirit gives, but how we use the fruits is extremely important, too.
The first fruit that should be in our fruit bowl is love. No surprise that this is first on the list. Love is the key theme of Christianity. It is critical for us to know we are loved by God and to pour that love on others. The love that Paul is speaking of is not the warm, fuzzy feeling kind of love. It is being deliberate to do good to others, being devoted to others, and loving others unconditionally.
In America, we have diluted the word, “love”. We say that we love a certain food…we love a movie…we love our BFF...we love, love, love just about anything and everything! Paul was writing about a very specific type of love here. There are four words used for love in the Bible. These include agape, eros, phileo, and storge. The word used here is agape. This is the highest form of love. This is how Christ loves us. So, is God calling us to love as Christ loves? Well, yes He is! He is calling us to love those who are easy to love, those who are hard to love, those who hurt us, those who seem unlovable. He is calling us to love deeply and unconditionally. I realize that is asking a lot.
Some days I just don’t feel like loving some people. A few years ago there was a former coworker who I struggled to love. We were rarely on the same page regarding work-related projects. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on ethical issues. After I struggled with it for way too long and tried to change things, I gave it to God. He was the only one that could change my mind and my feelings. So, how do we love even when we don’t want to love? Here is what has worked for me…I continually ask God to love through me. I ask him to pour His love into me and spill out on to others. And He is faithful to do it. Ask Him to love through you and for His Holy Spirit to fill you…that’s where the fruit of love comes from.
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