By Will Martin
Read Galatians 5:16–24.
Love. What comes to your mind? Something warm and fuzzy? Something romantic? When Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit (that is, what the Spirit of God grows in our lives when we live for Him), the first thing he mentions is love. This of course is not romantic, passionate, or worldly love. This type of love is the kind God Himself feels and shows to us.
What are some differences in the types of love people feel?
Does the world’s view of love match the type of love God shows? Why or why not?
In the world, many have closed their hearts to others as a defense so they cannot get hurt. Sometimes loving people gets us hurt. Has that happened to you or have you seen it happen to someone? If we let people into our hearts, it does not always turn out well. People betray us. People lie. People break up. Unfortunately, heartbreak and heartache are not uncommon experiences in our world and in our own lives.
The love that the Spirit adds to our existence is a beautiful blessing! It allows us to open our hearts to others and show them compassion, care, and concern. God would have His people be loving and tenderhearted towards others (Ephesians 4:32). As believers, may we never close up our hearts and shut down our ability to love those around us!
Here’s why love is important:
1. Jesus demands it of His followers, even to show it to our enemies. Matthew 5:43–48
2. Jesus showed it over and over in His ministry. If any one thing categorized the life of Jesus, it was love. Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32
3. In the Old Testament, the two greatest commandments for the Israelites to follow involved their love of God and their fellow man. Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Leviticus 19:18
4. Love holds people together, whether it is a relationship, a family, a church–love is the glue that keeps us unified. 1 Corinthians 13
Love being the first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit does not necessarily mean it is most important. Some argue it is first for a reason, but Paul does not write that these are ranked by importance. However, we should not underestimate the blessing love brings to our lives. Living in love transforms our lives from the cold, distant, uninvested-in-others lifestyle the world promotes to living a life of deep care, acceptance of the outcast, and identifying with the hurting that our society needs and our God demands.
Do you want to love others the way God expects? In order to have this love grow in our lives, we must commit ourselves to “living by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25) and following God’s plan for who we are and the decisions we make. The question is not just “Do you want God’s love in your life?” The ultimate question is “Knowing that through right living I can be filled full of love, am I willing to live for God?”
For Further Thought and Discussion:
On a scale of 1-10 how important is love?
What are some ways that we can show love to others?
Who do you think needs a little extra love right now?