Summary: The one thing that ought to be evident when they see us as Christians is Christlike love in our lives.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
In his letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, vs. 22, the apostle Paul writes these words, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control."
And this morning we’re going to focus on the first "fruit of the Spirit - love." The one thing that ought to be evident to everybody when they see us as Christians is Christlike love in our lives.
PROP. So let’s discuss first the need for love. Next, we’ll look at a perfect example of love in the Bible, & then consider some applications.
I. THE NEED FOR LOVE
We live in a world that desperately needs love. Even though society glorifies the subject of love, there is so little evidence of love around us today. Why?
A. Well, first of all, I think we’re misguided.
1. Society seems to equate sex with love. But many engage in sex without the slightest thought of love.
2. Others think that indulgence is love. We have children & we buy them all kinds of things, expensive clothing, $200 athletic shoes. We get them new red convertibles when they turn 16, & think that is love.
ILL. As you know, just a few weeks ago there was a tragedy in Olmito as 3 people were killed when their car tried to outrun the train at a railroad crossing. Now the parents of the 15-year-old driver are grief-stricken over the loss of the son they loved.
In fact, they loved their son so much that they bought him his own Trans-Am before he was legally old enough to drive. And they let him drive the car illegally while he was still underage & didn’t have a driver’s license. Then he races a train & loses, & now the family is suing for millions over his loss. Indulgence is not love.
3. Tolerance is not love, either. It’s the popular credo of our time to be very tolerant of one another. No matter what your lifestyle might be, we’re supposed to be tolerant of it.
But as I understand the Bible, if someone is living a life that is leading them to hell, then if I love that person I must do everything I can to help them change the way they’re living, & the direction they’re going.
SUM. So we’re misguided if we think that sex is love, or indulgence is love, or tolerance is love. Love is much more than that.
B. Secondly, I think love is misunderstood. One of the problems is our language. Most other languages have several words to express different kinds of love. But our language has just this one word, & we use it in many ways.
ILL. We see two people locked in an embrace underneath a palm tree on a beautiful night, & we hear him say to her, "I love you."
ILL. Again, we see a couple eating in a Mexican restaurant, & one of them says, "I love fajitas." It’s the same word, but surely a different emotion.
ILL. And of course, as we drive around we see all those bumper stickers proclaiming, "I love the Cowboys."
ILL. Ralph Sockman said, "Love is an overworked word for an underemployed emotion." He’s right. We use it all the time, but we really don’t employ the emotion. No wonder society misunderstands what love really is!
C. Thirdly, love is missing.
ILL. Recently, the tragedy of Oklahoma City was revisited in our minds as Timothy McVeigh was convicted of that horrible crime to the cheers of outraged citizens & grieving family members.
ILL. Then last week the sickening depravity of sexual perversion reached a climax in the murderous actions & ultimate suicide of Andrew Cunanan.
I don’t need to go on. Every day there are news items proclaiming the absence of love in our society. But there are some bright spots.
ILL. A couple I know were driving on the highway when they saw a woman walking along, carrying a baby. You know how it is, when you’re driving at highway speed, it takes a few seconds to react.
They saw her, then they saw her car with a flat tire. Quickly the wife said, "Oh, stop!" So he started slowing down to stop & then back up to where the woman was. But before he could, he saw 4 other cars behind him stopping to help, too. There are moments when we’re stirred to be loving & kind.
But I’m talking about everyday life. What about when an aging relative needs help 24 hours a day, & you’re becoming weary of the responsibility?
What about the single parent who is lonely & tired of being both mom & dad to the kids, & struggling to keep their heads above water financially?