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Summary: This is the first sermon in a series on The Fruit of the Spirit. It looks at five ways to become more loving. 1. EXPERIENCE God’s Love 2. FORGIVE Your Enemies 3. THINK Loving Thoughts 4. BEHAVE In Loving Way 5. EXPECT The Best

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Fruit of The Spirit – Love

Becoming a More Loving Person

Today we begin a new series called: Becoming a Fruitful Christian. It is based on the passage of scripture which says:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23 (NASB)

In First Corinthians chapter thirteen we find these familiar words:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…..” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a (NASB)

Love is probably the most misunderstood word in the world. Part of the problem is that we use this one word to describe many things. We use it for everything. We say, “I love my wife. I love America. I love the color we painted our house. I love my dog. I love ice cream. I love my new shoes.” We use the word love in so many different ways that it has literally lost its meaning.

Most people think love is a feeling – a quiver in the liver – an ocean of emotion. It is true that love produces feelings – but it is more than an emotion.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown and Linus are talking, and Linus says, “She was so cute. I used to see her in Sunday school every week. I used to just sit there and stare at her and sometimes she’d smile at me. Now I hear switched churches.”

Charlie Brown looks up and says, “That’ll change your theology in a hurry.”

How often we let our feelings motivate us to do all kinds of things we might not normally do? It’s almost like saying that when we are in love – everything is out of control.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I fell in love”? It makes it sound as if they had tripped and they couldn’t control the fall.

Hank Williams sang about it you know when he sang: “I can’t help it if I’m still in love with you.”

We talk as if love in uncontrollable – but the Bible says love is controllable. In fact Jesus commands that we love others. He said:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 13:34 (NASB)

It would seem that love is a matter of choice. The Bible says:

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Col 3:14 (NASB)

Notice those two little words “put on”. Love is something we can choose to have. If it were a feeling – we could not command it. But we can command a choice and love is a choice. It is controllable. It is much more than feelings.

In fact did you know that it is possible to love someone you do not even like? Jesus said it this way:

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Mat 5:44-46 (NASB)

It is easy to love people who are kind and lovely – it is much more difficult to love those who are not. But the fact is – our lives are full of people we don’t like. We do not like the way some people talk. We do not like the way some act. We do not like the way others dress. But most of all we tend not to like people who do not like us.

Lady Astor – the first female member of the British House of Commons did not like Winston Churchill and it seems that he did not care for her much either. One time she told him, “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your tea.”

Churchill replied, “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it!”

If you were to think about it for sixty seconds – you could probably come up with a list of people you do not like. They would probably be people whom you have trouble getting along with. But the truth is – everyone is hard to love some of the time – even you – but some people are hard to love at any time.

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