Of all the awesome attributes of God, His love stands out the most to me at this time. When we think about God’s love we always think of this famous verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God loves us so much that He gave us salvation through Jesus Christ, but His giving doesn’t stop there. After salvation He gives us the opportunity to be like Him also giving love to others.
It is a difficult task to love others, mainly because people are so different. We are all from different cultures and generations, but God still commands us to love. Matthew 22:39 says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” To love your neighbor as yourself is to love all people in the same manor you would like to be loved, to be forgiven, to be kind, etc…
In Galatians 5:22 this love is a fruit of the spirit. It promotes the actions that follow: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in which Jesus is our perfect example.
Love promotes joy: Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and protector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising shame…” This joy is referring to the joy of Him taking the suffering for you. As a parent whenever my children are suffering in pain, I wish I could take it from them. Jesus did so for us. Looking to the end times, when sinners are judged and punished, He chose to bear the punishment for us. To love others with joy is to choose to suffer the pain of their offence, rather than to make the offender pay for hurting you.
Love promotes peace: To show others love in peace is to give up your right to be “right.” Jesus has always been in the right, but He gave up His right to be right, for you to be right with God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said we are to be peace makers. We cannot be a peacemaker while fighting to the bitter end just to be right.
Love promotes patience: Thank about the last time God pointed out an area for change. How long did God patiently wait for you to change? To show love in patience is to wait for another to change while not being offended. Knowing instead that you are also resistant to change. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked how many times he should forgive. Jesus said seventy times seven, not meaning a certain number, but to never stop forgiving, even if it’s the same person. Patience and forgiveness go hand in hand, without patience you will not forgive and without forgiveness you will not be patient.
Love promotes kindness: To be kind is a manner in which you treat someone. To show love through kindness is to treat with respect those close to you even though you know all their faults. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Familiarity breeds contempt?” Mark 6:1-6 shows that Jesus was viewed with high honor everywhere except in His hometown and with His relatives. We tend to be kind to the people we are not familiar with, but to those who we see their faults we are rude and unbelieving of their sincerity. In verses 5&6, Jesus could not do a miracle there except healing a few because they thought they knew Him. A huge hindrance in God working in your life is that you will not accept the truth God is telling you, because of the person God is using to tell you.
Love promotes goodness: Romans 2:4 says, the goodness of God leads you to repentance. God is good to the sinner and righteous alike. To show love through goodness is to be good to all no matter their philosophy. This is possible by stating the truth and not trying to force your own view. It is your behavior that witnesses to a person not the argument you present.
Love promotes faithfulness: 2 Timothy 2:13 says, God is faithful even when we are not. For us to show love in faithfulness is to be faithful to our word, even when someone else is not. The longer you walk with God the more you see His faithfulness and the more you begin to completely trust Him. It is the same with others, the more faithful we are to our word, the more people will begin to trust us, opening the door to speak into their life.
Love promotes gentleness: To show love in gentleness is to gently correct those in error. Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.” Jesus is very gentle in His convicting of sins, He does not blast you with every sin you commit. He gently tells you one by one never overbearing, but humbly, because He knows what it is like to resist temptation.
Love promotes self-control: Galatians 5:23 tells us to have self-control over those things in which there is no law. In society there are things considered taboo. To show love in exercising self-control is to think about the people around you about what would be offensive to them. In Paul’s day, it was offensive to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Paul knew when he ate meat it meant nothing, but to someone who did not understand the freedom given in Jesus, it was offensive. Paul showed love to others by saying in 1 Corinthians 8:13, “Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again that I may not cause my brother to stumble.”
Using these fruits of the spirit will help us to be more like Jesus, loving each person in the way they need to be loved.