Summary: Love is the preeminent fruit of the Spirit. Without it there are no others.
The entire Bible is a love story. Not like a Harlequin romance, thankfully for us guys. We get to read about war, fishing and death too. But from the creation of the world, through love, for the protection of the Israelites because of love, to the sending of a Saviour out of love, for Jesus sacrifice in love, this is a book that is trying to send us a simple but powerful message. Love God and love each other as He loves us. The greatest commandment.
If you get nothing else out of the Bible and what it means to be a Christian, it needs to be this. But the word love gets thrown around so much that in many ways we have lost its meaning. Fortunately the Bible helps us get it back. We’re talking here about “Agape” love which is a divine affection, as opposed to “Phileo” which is more a friendship type of love and “Eros”, which is a romantic, or sensual love.
Love as a fruit of the Spirit is a verb. It’s not a feeling, and much like faith, if only expressed in words it’s essentially meaningless. Though we like to hear the words “I love you” they mean nothing if not accompanied by loving action, in fact many abused children have a very distorted view of love when their abuse was committed under the words of love.
Jesus says this is the fruit, not fruits, of the Spirit. So though we will deal with each one separately, all of them are the fruit. I will suggest that when you read this passage, if only love was mentioned, it would be enough. “The fruit of the Spirit is love”. So if you’re here today you don’t have to come to any other sermons in this series, have a good summer.
So as we look at this Agape love, the first thing I would like to show you is that this kind of:
I. Love is Sacred (1Jn 4:7-8, 16)
1Jn 4: 7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. … 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Here we have the abiding theme again from last week. Maybe this simplifies the idea of abiding if we see it as abiding in love because God is love. Love is from God, we don’t have this kind of love if we don’t know God and have his Spirit in us. If we are abiding in love, keeping it always in the forefront of all our interactions and choices, we are abiding in God.
We often wonder as Christians, “What about those people who seem so much more loving than even most Christians, but do not believe in Jesus or Christianity?” That’s a good question and I don’t have an answer for it. Perhaps because God chooses us he can abide in us and love through us without us abiding in him. God wants us to believe and abide in him, but certainly He would not require us to believe in Him to be able to use us to love others.
We also have to realize the context of these words about love. They are to believers, and mostly to Corinthian believers who were being anything but loving, and the point of this is for them to get back to Christ and love as He loved. Notice also that nowhere in this text by John does it talk about believing in Jesus. It says whoever loves is born of God and knows God. It seems to me that this would be possible without necessarily believing in Jesus.
So really this message is to let Christians know that if they are not loving, they are not in God, they do not know God, they are not allowing His nature to abide in them, even if they profess belief in Jesus Christ.
II. Love is Selfless (Php 2:1-3, Eph 3:18-19)
Php 2:1-3: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Eph 3: that you being rooted in love 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.