Love—The All-Encompassing Fruit
By Rafael Holding
“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)
How important is love? When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40) In other words, if you can do those two things—love God and love your neighbor—everything else will fall into place. All of the other commandments were given to teach us to do the right and loving thing.
How does love rank among the fruits of having the Holy Spirit? The Apostle Paul concluded his explanation of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) with an exhortation to put love first: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
It sounds simple enough, but of course it’s not always easy. Where do you find the kind of love that reaches out, that gives, that sacrifices? Where do you find love that helps you be as concerned about your neighbor’s happiness as you are about your own, or to be loving even to your enemies, or to sacrifice for others? (Matthew 22:39; 5:44; John 15:13; 1 John 3:16) Such love is not human nature; it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in your life.
How do you get it? If you have received Jesus and the Holy Spirit, you already have a measure of that love, and you can always ask God for more. But the best way to get more is to give what you’ve got. “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” (Proverbs 11:25) Just a little love can go a long way—much further than you could ever dream.
(“Love—The All-Encompassing Fruit” is adapted from the Get Activated book God’s Gifts)
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A central part of Jesus’ last message to His disciples at the Last Supper, before He was arrested, taken to jail, beaten, and killed was: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
The early Christians turned the world upside down with the love of God that they found in Jesus Christ. The way the Christians lived convinced the Romans that their faith was real.
—David Brandt Berg (1919–1994)
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