Wednesday, February 22, 2006


The Fruit of The Spirit - Love

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love

Some of us old-timers remember the advice of the Supremes when they told us to "Stop in the name of love." Well, what we really need to do is to remember the advice of God when He tells us to start in the name of love.
And we come now to really dealing with the specifics in terms of the fruit of the Spirit.
The Toughness Of Love

A couple of years ago, James Dobson wrote a best-selling book that was titled Tough Love. I think it's about time somebody wrote a book and entitled it Love Is Tough. Because biblical love applied is one of the toughest challenges that you and I have. I guess it wouldn't do a whole lot of good to tell you, but look. God commanded it. I know God commanded it, and I still struggle with how tough it is to really love biblically. I guess it probably wouldn't do us a whole lot of good if I reminded you that love is one of the penetrating priorities in God's agenda in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. When He looks at your life, He's looking to see whether or not you're loving. I know that. I find biblical love still to be a phenomenal challenge in my life.
Maybe it's such a struggle because we've become so confused about love. For some of us, we were born to this earth with parents, and it was just kind of normal to think they would love us, and after a few years of experience, we wondered, Is that really what love is? For some of us, it's a struggle because we've been so deeply injured. We find that we really love to hate. And there are some people in this world that we really hate to love. Maybe that's part of why it's so tough. For some of us, we start feeling a little guilty when we get loving because we really realize that down deep inside we're loving to be loved. We think, I know what I'll do; I'll just be loving to everybody, because I want so desperately to be loved by everybody. There's this haunting reality that maybe our motivations are just a little off base. Or maybe we love to be liked. I don't know that anybody's been born into this universe who doesn't want to be liked. Well, maybe I think we've met a couple people who act like they don't want to be liked. But maybe we love so that everybody will like us. Maybe we love to gain attention, and we don't feel really good about that.

In ancient Greek mythology Narcissus was the son of the river God Cephissus. Narcissus was exceptionally good looking. He was physically beautiful but incapable of love.
While he loved no one, someone loved him. She longed and yearned for him but found absolutely no response. He was incapable of responding. He was incapable of loving. She loved him so much that she slowly disappeared from the lack of response until all that was left of her was her voice. Her name was Echo.
Another mythical character named Nemesis decided to punish Narcissus for his coldness of heart and enticed him to drink at a certain fountain. When Narcissus bent over to drink he saw his own reflection and fell in love for the first time in his life. He was so enthralled with the sight of himself that he could never leave the reflection. So, the gods transformed him into a flower that to this day is called the Narcissus.

Narcissism is falling in love with yourself, but it really isn’t love at all. Some people are truly self-centered, self-absorbed and totally selfish but they are not lovers. They don’t love others and they really don’t love themselves either because that’s not what love does. Love is never like that.

Maybe we love because we want to look loving. When we love for reasons like that, we know that's not really biblical love.
So love is tough. Maybe love is tough because God has asked us to apply it in all the tough places. As a husband He says to me, "Love your wife as Christ loves the church." I find it's one of the most difficult things to apply any spiritual principles at home. Home is where I want to relax. Home is my kingdom. Home is where I want my children and my wife to serve me. And God says on my way home tonight, “Grosey, you give yourself to your wife." That's tough. That's tough application, to love those whom we are intimate with-unconditionally, as Christ loved us. Maybe that's why love is so tough, because He's asked us to apply it in tough places.
Maybe love is tough because He's asked us to apply it to our enemies. Matthew 5:43-45: He says, "You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you," the wonderful uniqueness of the kingdom, "I tell you: Love your enemies," bless those who curse you, "and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be [like] your Father [who is] in heaven." Maybe that's why it's so tough, because its application is so pointed to areas in which we struggle.
Maybe love is tough because He tells us to love our neighbours. Biblically that's anybody that comes across the turf of our existence. Love is tough because it's love that drives us to the lost. What did Paul say? The love of Christ compels me. From the homeless to
Hamilton, to the Gold Coast, people are lost without Christ, dying on their way to hell. How much easier it is for me to walk through this city, and to walk through my neighborhood, with my own comfortable agendas, and to forget that they are lost and dying and to take the time and the inconvenience and the potential embarrassment and the potential rejection and stop and say, "Listen. I need to talk to you about the most urgent matter in the world." But that's what biblical love does. It drives me to the lost without Christ. Maybe that's why love is so tough.
1. The Source Of Love
Soren Kierkegaard once said, "You say you don't need God? Try to love your enemies and believe me, you'll need God."
Open your Bibles with me, if you would, please, and let's see if the Spirit can heal our dilemma. Galatians 5-we now make a transition out of the beginning instructions about our relationship to the Spirit, and then throw ourselves into the products of this relationship, a very familiar section called "fruit of the Spirit." Unfortunately, it is so familiar that we forget that it's tied intrinsically to the previous context. There is no hope of any of the fruit of the Spirit in my life unless I am living in verse 16. So verse 16 says, "Walk by [or in] the Spirit." Verse 18: be "led by the Spirit." Verse 25: "Walk by the Spirit."
We talked about making sure that the Spirit is the sphere and the source, and that we submit to the Spirit, and He becomes our singular influence in life. Now notice, if you will, please, that the text guarantees us that as we follow that process, this will be the product. Verse 22: But the fruit of that process, the product, is love, joy, etc. Note with me that the very first item on this list is love. One of the first things that I can expect from a Spirit-filled life is the sharing of God's love to the world around me. We have to remember, and though the text does not tell us why love is first, and I cannot guarantee you why Paul put love first . . . As I think about biblical theology, I think about the priority place that love has always played and held in Scripture.
2. The Significance Of Love
In Leviticus, "Love thy neighbor as you love yourself," one of the great hallmarks of the God of the Old Testament is that the God of the Old Testament is hesed, that He loyally loves His people. And then Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, [conditional clause] if you have love for one another." Then 1 Corinthians 13, where it says if you want to have gifts and you want to serve the Lord with your gifts, they mean zero-all of my service to God is of no value and no worth-if it is not done in the context of genuine biblical love. Then in 1 John 4:20, if you do not love your brother, you cannot say that you love God. So I would just suspect, though Paul doesn't tell us, that he starts out with love because it is such a pressing priority for God's people.
I think all the way back in the very earliest days when God revealed to His people how they should relate to Him. In Deuteronomy 6 He said, "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [And thou shalt] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (vv. 4-5 niv). Then later He added that you should love your neighbor as yourself. Then when they asked Christ what was the greatest commandment, Christ said, "`You shall love the Lord your God,'" and "The second is like it, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39 nasb). "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another" (Romans 13:8 nasb).

There is a universal need to be loved, even for Madalyn Murray O’Hare. You may remember that she disappeared a few years ago along with her son and a granddaughter and she left behind several things. She left behind some allegations that she had stolen about six hundred thousand dollars from various organizations that she had helped to develop. She also left behind debts of a quarter million dollars. She left behind a diary. Madalyn Murray O’Hare, the original card-carrying atheist said, "Somebody, somewhere, please love me."

Ira Gillet, a missionary to Eastern Africa, came back with a story. In the story he said there was a strange phenomenon in that the Africans would go past a government hospital on the way to the missionary compound. They would do this even though the missionary compound was many miles further and even though they could have received the same medicine and same treatment at the government hospital. The Africans were asked why? They said, "Well, the medicines may be the same, but the hands are different." That is what it means to be in a church. We treat each other with love. Sometimes we have to speak the truth in love, but we still treat each other with love and love grows best in that environment of the fellowship of the church

1Cor 13 :1 If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all • mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

If I Don't Live a Life of Love…

1. Nothing I SAY will matter.
13:1: 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.

2. Nothing I KNOW will matter.
13:2a: If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge…

3. Nothing I BELIEVE will matter.
13:2b: …and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

"I love you" are the three most powerful and potentially transforming words anyone can say or hear. Love gives meaning. Love gives hope. Love makes us feel good. Love changes everything. Love is God’s great gift to us all.

Sometimes our society diminishes love by saying it without meaning it.
¨ Love is sometimes counterfeited with sex. ¨ Love is hard for some to do because so many have never seen it done well. The truth is that if we can understand love, if we can experience love, and if we can express love all the rest of life can and will be supernaturally transformed for good. There is a sense that if we get love right then we can get everything right and if we don’t get love right then we can’t get anything right

4. Nothing I GIVE will matter.
13:3a: If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love…

George McGovern, one time presidential candidate, wrote a book about his daughter Terry who died of alcoholism. In 1994 she was found frozen to death in a snow bank where she'd fallen in a drunken stupor. After his daughter died McGovern poured over Terry's diaries and talked to all her friends trying to figure out what she was thinking and he discovered that he wasn't as good of a father as he thought he had been. While he was spending eighteen-hour days fighting for political causes his daughter Terry was at home writing in her diary that she missed her daddy but he probably didn't miss her because he probably didn't care about her. McGovern later wrote advice to parents: Show more love to your kids by spending more time with them especially during the adolescent years. No matter what it costs your career." And he writes this, "I'd give everything I have and I mean everything for one more afternoon with Terry, just to tell her how much I love her and have one more of those happy times that we used to have all too infrequently."

What is Love?

1. Love is a COMMAND .
2 John 6: As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
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.

Beyond these words of Jesus, nine more times in the New Testament Christians are asked to love one another:
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another" (Romans 13:8)
"love one another deeply, from the heart." (I Peter
"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another." (I John
"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." (I John 3:23)
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God" (I John 4:7)
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (I John 4:11-12)
"I ask that we love one another." (II John 1:5)

There is no doubt that Jesus had high expectations for Christians to love each other, but how does it actually happen?

2. Love is a CHOICE .
1 Corinthians 14:1: Follow the way of love…

3. Love is a CONDUCT .
1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.

Hear what Jesus says to us: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

That’s what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to love one another the way we’ve seen him do it. Jesus loved us when we hated him. Jesus sticks with us when we ignore him. Jesus is generous to us when we are greedy toward him. Jesus is kind to us when we don’t deserve it. Jesus forgives us when we repeatedly sin against him.

Hear what Jesus says to us: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Look at any other Christian you know—don’t ask how Jesus would love them; ask how Jesus has already loved you. Love one another as Jesus loves you! Don’t love like crazy—love like Jesus!

Listen to I John 3:16-17 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

In other words, Christian love for other Christians is in doing something. Do whatever needs to be done. Do whatever they need. If it takes a gift of money, give the money. If it takes sacrifice of your life, sacrifice your life. Now, most of us will never come close to having to lay down our lives for each other the way Jesus laid down his life for us—but there are lots of things we can and will do for each other.

4. Love is a COMMITMENT .
1 John 4:19: We love because He first loved us.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."
I Corinthians 13:13

We all know too many stories of people who glibly say “I love you” but behave badly with lack of love, unkindness and abuse.
Whether in a family or a friendship, always measure love by actions more than words.
1 Corinthians is one of the most eloquent descriptions of love in all human literature although it never mentions saying, “I love you.” All the descriptions of love are actions.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 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.

Very early on Monday morning, July 29, 2002, nine coal miners were rescued from 240 feet under the earth where they were trapped for 77 hours (Somerset, PA). It was the first time in 30 years where there was such a successful rescue. During their three full days under ground they were in cramped quarters with cold rising water that sometimes was up to their noses. They shared one sandwich between them. They wrote goodbye notes to their families. They thought they were going to die—and they decided they would all die together so that their bodies was be found tied to each other. At one of the emotional low points in their ordeal, 43-year-old Randy Fogle started to shiver and experienced tightness in his chest. The other nine feared he was suffering from hypothermia. They all surrounded him and took turns hugging him. They hugged each other. Blaine Mayhugh, 31, said, “When we were cold we would snuggle.” I doubt that these Pennsylvania coal miners whispered to each other in the dark, “I love you!” but they did love each other—with actions more than with words.

When I was a teenager too young to drive I bought an old car from a wrecker. The price was right! Free! Even if it had no brakes and had to be towed home. One day I was working on the engine and could not get it to start. The battery was charged. There was plenty of petrol. Nothing I tried worked. My father walked out of the house and offered to help. I knew that he knew nothing because he was in his 40s and really old. He looked under the hood and told me that the ground wire wasn’t connected to the coil. I had no idea what he was talking about and assumed he didn’t know what he was talking about. After he left I connected the loose ground wire and the car immediately started. He was smarter than I thought! Electrical systems need to be grounded to work. Electricity is invisible. Electricity is powerful. The circuit has to be complete. It’s the same way with love. God loves us and we love others—we are grounded and the system works. 1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

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