Fruits of the Spirit: Choosing Love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22

When we choose to walk with Christ, we need to also choose to walk in the fruit the Holy Spirit gives us. Christ is our ultimate example for he walked without fault.

Each week I will be addressing a different fruit, all of which I struggle with at different times because I’m not perfect.


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34

The beginning of 2019 brought a time of reflection as I participated in the 21 day fast my church initiates every year. Every day during lunch I would ingest the words of the Bible instead of food. I took the time to really focus on God and my time with him, asking, seeking.

One thing I learned during this time of fasting was that I was lacking. Sure, we all know we lack. We know that we are not perfect, and we know that we need to do more in our walk with God.

What I realized I was truly lacking though was LOVE.

1 Corinthians 13 is completely dedicated to this word, Love. It’s Scripture I have read time and time again and understood. I even thought I had it down, a “no-brainer.”

But as I continued to press in, I realized just how difficult this was for me. I have been struggling with negatives for a very long time. It’s easier to find and complain about the negatives in life, about situations and about other people, than it is to focus on the good. I don’t know, call it human nature. Call it pride.

I can sit here and tell you that I love my family and my God without question. In fact, I originally thought I was going to do just that. But I’m not.

Here’s the reason why: It’s not because I don’t love my family, of course I do. They are wonderful people. I chose my husband, and together we have 4 beautiful children. I do love them unconditionally, that much is true. But then I need to remember this from Scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Herein lies the problem:

~ I’m not always patient with them.
~ I can get angry very easily, depending on the situation.
~ I do find myself keeping a record of wrongs, especially against my husband.
~ I don’t always trust that they will make the right decision or do what they say they will

Though, I do have some of these:

~ I rejoice in truth rather than evil
~ I will protect them with my life if necessary
~ I always hope
~ I try to persevere (okay, that may be 50/50?)

And what about love for God?

Though I sing praise and pray to him, telling him how much I love him, though I teach about him, about his love, there is something I am missing:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

John 14:15

“This is my command: Love each other.”

John 15:17

It sounds simple enough, but who did he ask us to love? Unfortunately, he wasn’t about to make this love thing easy on us:

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:44-45

This, I would say, is the absolute hardest thing for me to do. Love my enemies? Why? The governor of my state is killing babies. He has said that all conservatives should leave his state. He doesn’t want me, and he doesn’t value life. What else will he do? Why should I love him?

For that matter, why should I love anyone who goes against what the Bible says? Why do I have to love those who harm others? Those who steal possessions and livelihood? Why should I love on the employees at the stores who are rude or just don’t care? Why should I love those who don’t show love for me? Those who bullied me when I was younger, those who make false accusations against me or belittle me?

Why?

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”

Luke 6:32

Oh.

Growing up, my mom always taught me the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” It’s as true now as it was back then, but it’s hard. I want to love the sinner and remember that they are not their sin, but I find myself rallying against the person instead of their “cause.”

Jesus shows us just how to love our enemies, how to love the sinner and not their sin. He dined with tax collectors. He spoke with the woman at the well. He wasn’t accepting their sins, he was loving the person. He told them how they can enter the kingdom of heaven, he told them about his Living Water. The man on the cross next to him asked for his forgiveness and he gave it. He cried out to God on the cross, asking him to forgive those who were laughing and scorning him because, “they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Not once did Jesus keep his message from anyone.

We need to follow his example. We need to pray for those who persecute us. We need to spread his message to those that we may deem “unworthy.” We need to LOVE ALL.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

We were not worthy, and yet he died for us. He died for all of us. What right do we have to call anyone ‘unworthy’ when we ourselves were?

I’m not going to lie: this concept for me is hard. But this year I am choosing love. I want to put aside my pride and love as Christ loved. That’s my hope for this year. Love is my word, and I want to press in to Christ and ask him how to do this.

I can no longer ignore this Scripture passage that best sums up what my walk is without love:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

~ We must choose love or our efforts will be for naught.

~ We don’t get to choose who we love. God chose for us: everyone


~ If we don’t love, how can we call ourselves his disciples? (John 13:34)


~ We need to let go of grudges and not seek revenge; we need to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18)


~ Our love needs to be sincere (Romans 12:9a)


~ Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8a)

I thank God for the truths he places in my heart. I thank him for the Bible, for the examples of love Jesus shows us. I thank him also for those writers who go before me. There are a few books on my reading list this year that I want to read. Perhaps they can shed some more light on this subject:

Love Does and Everybody Always, both by Bob Goff
Love Like That by Dr Les Parrott

And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Thank you, Lord, for your wisdom. Thank you that you have given me the opportunity to love, and that you have shown me how to do this. Lord, I pray that you help me love like you. I know I struggle with this, but I know you will guide me. Thank you, Lord. In your name, Amen.


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