Summary: Break-down of the 3 Greek words for love & uses great illustration with apples.
TEXT: Galatians 5:16-25
“Fruit of the Spirit” – Part 1: Love
Many people what have grown up in church have heard about the “fruit of the Spirit.” In Sunday School, many children associate these with actual fruits: bananas, pears, grapes, & apples, because it puts it in a context they can understand & remember. Tonight, we are going to talk about the fruit of the Spirit called love. And we will associate love with the apple. (Show 1 apple)
Usually around Valentine’s Day, I talk to youth groups about love. It is a season of the year, where everyone is encouraged to find love. So I ask these smart kids to tell me all they know about love. It is very entertaining to hear what kids & youth have to say about the matter. They have told me that love is a warm fuzzy feeling. It feels like you’re floating on a cloud. It smells like freshly cut roses & your favorite cologne or perfume. Love tastes like Godiva chocolates & truffles. Love sounds like your favorite songs.
Early on, we can see that many ideas about love are very wrong. For instance, love is not merely an emotion & feeling. Love is so much more complicated than that. I believe that is a reason that many marriages do not last. “The thrill is gone” as B.B. King would say. At Southwestern, there was a motto among the ladies: “Ring by spring.” Meaning that they wanted to have a big engagement ring by the 2nd semester. And it just so happened, that most engagements began in the spring. The flowers begin to blossom, the birds begin chirping, and “love” is in the air.
So many people were caught up in the emotion, that they failed to understand that love is a choice. It is a commitment that we chose to make. I have told my wife that I know there are some days when I am not very lovable. However, because we have chosen to love each other no matter how we feel, we can be secure in our relationship. She chooses to love me, not because of what I do, but for who I am. A person should not love a person because of anything that person has or does – but simply because that person exists. The Talmud (Jewish Commentary on the O.T.) expresses it in a very insightful teaching: “When love depends on another factor, then when that factor ceases to exist, so does the love. But when love does not depend on anything else, it never ceases to exist.”
We see this teaching illustrated in Genesis 29 between Jacob & Leah. If you recall the story, Jacob is married to a woman he was tricked into marrying. Leah, his first wife, desperately wants to feel loved by Jacob, but she knows that she is 2nd fiddle to Rachel, Jacob’s true love. So Leah gets it in her head that if she has children for Jacob, he will love her.
In verse 32 it says, “Leah became pregnant & gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, ‘It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.’ She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.’ So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him 3 sons.’ So he was named Levi.” Of course, we know that it didn’t matter how many children Leah had, Jacob never loved her as much as he loved Rachel.
Many years ago, a very popular movie set out to take audiences on a journey of one man’s quest for love. It was filled with comedy, drama, action & ultimately romance. But in the final analysis, the whole movie was about how far a man would go to be with the woman he loved. The two had known each other since childhood & had become wonderful friends. But one day, the woman had left home, family & friends to pursue a wild life. The man dreamed about her every day. He just knew that one day, she would come back to see her old friend & that they would finally be together. And to his surprise, one day she did come home. He welcomed her with open arms & took care of her while she recovered from drug withdrawals.
One night, he proposed to her. He said the 3 words she had heard from many manipulative lovers. “I love you,” he said. She responded, “You don’t know what love is.” The man said, “I’m not a smart man. But I know what love is.” Eventually, they did marry & he loved her only, even after she died from AIDS. The woman: Jenny; the man: Forrest; the movie: Forrest Gump.