The fruit of love
The world has its ideas of what love is. The church also has its ideas concerning love. Both the ideas of the world and the ideas of the church are trumped by what the Word of God actually says concerning love. Lets take a look at the fruit of love of each of these ideas.
Jesus was a greatly loved person and He himself was a loving person! In Christ, we see the love of God in action: walking, working, forgiving, healing, delivering and restoring. We need to learn more of this type of love.
The world knows very little of the love of Jesus. It’s concept of love is limited and flawed. Therefore, we will study a little bit about fake and artificial fruit that the world considers true love.
We need to learn the difference between the true and the false. To have this understanding is in fact a matter of life or death. With the love of God, the life of God follows. Without His type of love, we cannot have His type of life.
The false fruit of love
Love is not merely a physical and sensual attraction. The world over-estimates physical or sexual attraction, which appeals only to the sensual aspect of our nature. Physical love should be an expression of true love; however, it should not substitute it. On its own, this feeling is nothing more than egoistic and sensual desire.
The love of God does not limit itself to affection among family members. This would be merely favoritism. The love that confines itself to the members of its own family is selfish. True love goes beyond these described limits.
True love is not a sentimental pleasure which is nothing but emotionalism. Love is more than a warm feeling of pleasure. Otherwise, when this feeling fades our love will also fade. True love runs deeper than all of our emotions. True love is not a romantic fantasy or a mere false idealism. The world many times thinks that love is a romantic lifestyle, forever free of problems. The world’s ideal of love is nonexistent. Real life demands the real love that is resistant, something that will last beyond difficult times.
True love is not blind acceptance. This would be a form of deceit. Some people say that love is blind: that it cannot see nor wants to see the defects of others. Neglecting to see the true defects of others is not true love but deceit. True love sees the faults, and continues loving while seeking to redeem the faults. We cannot resolve the problems that we do not want to see. The eyes of love are always open.
True love is not permissive, which is nothing more than an act of indulgence. True love does not yield to the desires of the other person. True love does not permit or give consent to someone to go beyond set limits, which would also be an act of indulgence. True love draws a line between right and wrong and does not hesitate to give correction when someone passes the line.
True love is not passive piety. This is a sign of internal weakness. To feel pity upon someone in a weak and inactive way is not love. This type of solidarity can only cause a profound state of self-pity. True love seeks to produce an honest cure of emotional wounds through wise words and actions.
Everything described above are false concepts that the world has concerning love. True love is something much more, as we will see by the following.
The true fruit of love
The Septuagint is the translation of the Old Testament to the Greek, written in the third century before Christ. We can better understand the meaning of the key words used for love, by studying how the Biblical writers used them in the original text. As was already stated, we can define the words by observing their use.
Four basic words refer to love in the Greek language:
Eros (sensual) – physical
Physical affection – sexual love
This term is not found in the Scriptures
Storge (social) – of the family
Family affection – social love, as for members of the same family, community or country
Only the adjective “fraternal love” is found in the Scriptures (Romans 12:10).
Philia (emotional) – friendship
Affection between friends – emotional love based on the pleasure produced by a relationship.
Common in classic Greek, but found only 22 times in the Scriptures in its verbal form.
Agape (rational, volitional) – divine
Noble affection – the rational and volitional love based on the character of the subject that loves the value of its object.
This term is not commonly used in classical Greek, but it is very common in the Scriptures. The noun is found 113 times and the verb 135 times.
This term implies a significantly more profound and divine meaning by its use in the Bible. It originates with God and ends with man.
Agape love involves reason, an altruistic choice and sacrifice. It is unconditional, universal and eternal. God freely offers agape love to everyone. It is something that gives, forgives and redeems. Jesus gave the best and most complete definition of agape love on Calvary, when He died on the cross for our sins.
For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall not die but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
There is nothing weak, fragile, superficial or sentimental about the love of Calvary. It is something beautiful, holy, benevolent and merciful. At the same time, it is something frightening and terrible that breaks our hearts when we see the extent that it took to redeem us from our sins.
The love of God is stronger and more resistant than an enormous iron nail. It is as courageous and visible as a wooden cross with a dark sky in the background. Even so, it is also as pure and submissive as a sacrificial lamb.
It is no wonder that the Scriptures declare that our love for God begins with His great love for us: “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). A love like this evokes a response within our hearts.
To be conformed to the image of Jesus means that we will begin to reach out to others with this type of love more and more. We choose to minister to the world because people are precious in God’s eyes.
The price of their redemption cost God the life of His Son. He values our lives to this extent because He created us in His image. God still desires a family that expresses the adorable life of Jesus.
The rotten fruit of the flesh
As we have already stated, the fruit of the flesh reveals death and deterioration. The characteristics of death are in opposition to the characteristics of life.
The deadly characteristics that oppose the fruit of love are selfishness, hate, wrath, fear, hostility, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, lack of forgiveness, condemnation, disapproval, criticism, rejection and many other things.
These characteristics are deadly venom that can produce all kinds of infirmities in our spirit, soul and body. We have all suffered with these negative, sad and evil attitudes and characteristics. Sometimes this has happened because these infirmities were in our own lives. In other occasions, we have had to suffer at the hands of others who have insisted on retaining these poisonous attitudes in their hearts.
The fruit of the Spirit is a description or illustration of the divine life. It is also a prescription or medicine for the sicknesses of the soul. Just as the light disperses darkness and good overcomes evil, love expels fear, hate and everything that opposes it.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
Repay no one evil for evil […] but overcome evil with good […] for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (Romans 12:17; 21; 1 Peter 4:8)
In other words, love brings inner healing, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. This is what it means to minister one to another.
It is interesting to observe that the Scriptures describe a person led and revitalized by the Word and by the Spirit of God as a tree planted by the waters:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord […] Who delights himself in his word […] For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. […] their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Jeremiah 17:7, 8; Psalm 1:1-3; Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2)
Love – a medicine for hearts that suffer
Many people have never experienced what it means to be loved and accepted by God or by another person. It matters not how much they have tried to please others, they were never able to receive the love, acceptance, or respect that they wanted and needed.
Consequently, these people feel that they are unloved, unwanted, unnecessary, and have never received any value at any moment of their lonely existence. They allowed their hearts to be wounded and never developed their souls as they could have and should have. Their situation is truly very sad.
However, there is good news. The unconditional love of Christ Jesus can forgive our sins; heal our broken hearts, and restore our souls. Calvary has proved how much God wants us in His loving family. We have great value in His eyes and we are dear and necessary in the body of Christ. The family of God offers fellowship that can meet the deepest needs in our lives with respect to love, joy and peace.
To the extent that God restores our own lives; we can become fruitful trees of blessing to other people who are in need. Just as Jesus expressed the love of God in His words, actions and relationships, we also can do the same. This in fact is our calling from the Lord himself.
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
In truth, the fruit of love is a basic characteristic of our lives in Christ. It is the reason for a relationship with God, with His family and with the world for which Christ died.
The love of God is the source of our lives in Christ. From this life, all of the fruit of His spirit comes forth. Love, joy and peace are beautiful expressions of the life of Christ. They are also personal answers to the love of God. With this view, we will now study the fruit of this joy.