Last week we learned that the Holy Spirit gives gifts (nine spiritual gifts) and brings forth fruit (nine fruit of the Spirit). God wants His people to exercise gifts and bring forth fruit. There is no conflict between the two. We must exercise the gifts as well as bearing fruit.
We are currently focusing on the nine fruit the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV).
The first and perhaps the most important fruit of all is love! Out of all the nine fruits of the Spirit love is placed right at the front, right at the top, for a reason – it occupies a place of importance that shares with nothing else.
There are four Greek words for love: éros – sexual love; storgē – affection or family love; philia – love of a friend; agapé – God’s love. I want us to focus on God’s kind of love – agape love.
How do we cultivate the fruit of agape love?
Let’s hear Jesus on this topic,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35, NKJV).
Note two things: This is a commandment, not a suggestion. We don’t have an option. We must obey Jesus’ command or we are not His disciples. Secondly, this is a NEW commandment. That is, loving one another as Jesus loved us, supersedes all other commandments in the bible.
It’s interesting that Moses gave 10 commandments, Judaism has 613 commandments, but Jesus has only one – Love one another! How?
There are four ways to cultivate God’s agape love:
1.By sowing God’s Word in our hearts daily – the bible, God’s Word, lives forever and produces God’s love in the heart a born-again believer. Love is the product of the Word of God in the believer’s heart. (See 1Peter 1:22-23)
2.By the Holy Spirit – the believer’s heart becomes a vessel or place where the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into. (See Rom. 5:5)
3.By co-operation of the will – Usually we know love that is centered in the emotion or in the body. God’s agape love centers in your will. This kind of love comes primarily from a decision of your will. You must choose it. (See Deut. 30:15,19-20; Rom. 12:2)
4. By laying down our lives – God’s love is produced in us as we lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters in Christ through serving and helping them by using our gifts, talents, skills, money, material possessions, and time spent with them. (See 1John 3:16)
So, we cultivate the fruit of God’s love in our lives by
* Spending time daily in God’s Word (reading, memorizing, meditating, studying, applying it),
* Allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in us (we must listen, trust and obey what He says),
* Choosing to love our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter what (e.g. if / when they annoy us),
* Laying down our lives for our other brothers and sisters in Christ (other Christians) through serving / helping them.
God’s love is eternal. As we cultivate God’s love in our hearts it becomes part of our character, part of who we are in this life, and for all of eternity (i.e. in heaven).