The Fruit of the Spirit: What is True Love?

04. March 2018 faith 8
The Fruit of the Spirit: What is True Love?

Love.

It’s a word that stirs up different images and feelings for each of us.

A word defined by culture.

I think our grandparents or great-grandparents would define it differently than we.

But what is true love?

According to an article on the site Life, Hope, and Truth, by Eddie Foster, 

“Love” has been horribly abused in today’s world. It has wrongly been used to describe selfish sexual lust. It’s been given as an excuse for passively enabling terrible sins to continue in the lives of loved ones. It’s been seen as an uncontrollable emotion that leads to destructive behavior, or as empty words thrown back and forth with no substance.

When mixed with the world’s definition, love gets misconstrued, distorted, foggy or fuzzy.

I always thought loving people was a strength of mine until one day  Holy Spirit revealed to me that fear of people and the desire to please ruled my actions more than love. It’s something I’m still working through. But that opened my eyes to the distortion of “love” in my perspective.

Eddie Foster continues to explain in his article,

The love that is listed as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is much different. It is translated from the Greek word agape, used here to express the highest form of love that comes through the Holy Spirit. The love we are supposed to be demonstrating must be a godly love, which comes from God, the being who personifies this attribute.

How do we do that? The love we emit on our own looks like our worldly definition of love. And through those lens we perceive other’s actions and emotions toward us. To love with agape love, we must have help. 

Just like an apple tree doesn’t produce bananas, so we can’t produce good fruit love without the source of LOVE Himself.

We are grafted into the tree of God. His nourishing Holy Spirit feeds and waters us, and the Spirit produces the fruit of untainted love.

What is true Love?

The English word love has very broad meaning, but the Greek language was very precise. The love which the Holy Spirit manifests in believers is agape. This love is not a feeling, but a choice. It is the choice to be kind, to sacrifice, to consider another’s needs greater than one’s own (Philippians 2:3). Agape is used in all of the “hard” love verses in the New Testament: Got Questions.org

For me, the word “love” evokes a warm feeling in my heart. Security, acceptance, provision, and desire. To be loved is to be desired. But both the Greek word (agape) and the Old Testament Hebrew word (chesed) define a tangible type “love.” And as the quote above states, it’s more of a decision or choice than warm fuzzy.

David wrote, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you” (Psalm 63:3).

Though I know from personal experience that God’s love—His acceptance, security, provision, and desire for me frees me to live a life of eternal proportions beyond myself, and that makes life so much better…

And I know that God’s love somehow takes me out of myself, my neediness, my holes within, and breathes new purpose into my limited time on earth.

And I know His love gives me a greater capacity to love. Greater compassion.

. . . . Though I know the power of love, I also know that my vision of love is flawed as seen through mortal eyes.

David wrote:

“Because your chesed is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”

This is the definition of the word David used:

 Chesed: One of the most important words in the OT, chesed essentially denotes an act of kindness, love or mercy. The quality of kindness shown is usually reserved for close friends and family members but the act of chesedcan be demonstrated in any relationship…or covenant…but God’s chesed is not bound by covenant itself, and though men may prove unfaithful to this relationship, God’ chesed is everlasting.” (Key-Word Study Bible)

Sometimes we think we can earn somebody’s love—even God’s love. But mercy cannot be earned nor can kindness.

Chesed is not earned. It simply flows out of the heart of the giver. It’s in His DNA. It is who He is.

God’s Kindness, is better than life. Click To Tweet

 

When I exchange the word love  for the word kindness the focus goes straight to God and who He is.

His kindness is better than life.

When Bad Things Happen

When life gets hard, tumbling out of control and one bad thing happens after another, what are your first thoughts of God? Do you immediately think He’s punishing you, or He is angry? Does it seem He is withholding His love?

What would happen to those thoughts if you remembered that His DNA is kindness?

He is God. He is just and righteous too.

C. S. Lewis masterfully portrayed God’s character with these words from Mrs. Beaver as she tried to explain him to Susan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: (One of my favorite books.)

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…

”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

He is good. He is the King …and His kindness is better than life. He is so good. He’s made a way to share this chesed-agape-love with His children by His Holy Spirit, so we too can pass on the merciful kindness.

Let’s dig deep into Scripture that tells us about love.

Bible Reading Plan

 

Sneak Peek and Printable

2 John 1:6: And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

  • We can’t love like Jesus until we obey as He did. Obedience is how we show Him our love. Is He prompting you to do something?

Matthew 22: 37-40: 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.”

  • Work on loving Jesus first. Stand in the middle of your kitchen, lift your hands and face toward the heavens and simply worship.

Philippians 2: 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 

  • Ask the Lord to help you do this.

Luke 6:35: But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 

  • Who is someone you really don’t like? How can you be kind to them? Ask the Lord to help you.

1 Cor. 13:4: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

  • Which one of the attribute of love is hardest for you? Write a prayer asking for the Lord to show you why and fill you with His power to love this way.

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  • How did God tangibly love you? Write Him a thank you note and mail it to yourself.

1 John 4: 7-8:  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

  • Rewrite these verses using the definition for

Download and print the printable for the Bible Reading Plan on Love. 

 

Let’s Pray

“Dear Lord, you know how desperately I want people to experience your love for them. Your love gives us new purpose beyond ourselves. But if we don’t really understand your goodness and kindness, it’s hard to get to that point. You’ve gotten some bad publicity in the past from people who didn’t know your DNA. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you that you are a God of mercy, a God of chesed who acts on behalf of His children even when we don’t deserve it. You can’t help yourself. Kindness is who you are. Help us know this beyond our heads to our hearts. And let it change us from the inside out so your Holy Spirit fills us and produces the fruit of this love.  Amen.”

 

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What’s the hardest thing about “loving” people?

 

 

Digging Deep to Love,

 

Andy

 

PS. If this was encouraging, and you don’t want to miss any Bite of Bread reading plans and posts, subscribe today! You’ll receive a 22-Day Devotion on Psalm 119 called Finding the Beauty {Full} in God’s Word.Just click here to dig deep to live fully. 🙂 

 

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8 thoughts on “The Fruit of the Spirit: What is True Love?”

  • 1
    Venus Schrader on March 13, 2018 Reply

    Good word Sis.
    This is my prayer, that I will bear good fruit❤

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