The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

*NOTE: Hey Mountain Goats! This is one part of a whole series about the Fruits of the Spirit. If you haven’t read the introduction post yet, you can do so here!

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:3-4

“Love” is a word thrown around a lot these days. We hear it in our songs. We hear it from our friends and family. We even use the word “love” to describe our morning coffee or favorite late-night dessert. 

It seems, with how much “love” we throw around, the world should be a very lovely place to live.

But it’s not. Not really.

Wars are being waged, crimes are being committed, even within the Christian community hate is continually being spewed and spread, infecting minds and slandering God’s good name.

It’s almost as if we have forgotten what “love” really means… or did we even understand it’s meaning to begin with?

Love is a Four Letter Word

What comes to mind when asked to define what “love” means to you?

Do you define it by items or acts? By feelings or sacrifices? Can “love” even be truly defined by modern words, as some would say “I love you more than words could ever express!”

The Oxford dictionary defines it as “an intense feeling of deep affection; A great interest or pleasure in something; A feeling of deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone/thing.”

These definitions are a perfect example of where society has strayed from the true and honest meaning of the word.

The true definition of “love” is defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

A truer definition of love has never been written or spoken, at least not one I’ve ever seen. Love isn’t just an intense feeling. It isn’t just something we say when we like something, or feel passionate toward a person. 

Love is about sacrificing selfish wants and desires for the salvation of others. It’s about understanding others, wanting to guide them towards good, and teaching them how to choose right over wrong.

It isn’t forceful. It doesn’t push or prod. It’s simply there when called upon, always ready to lend a helping hand.

There are many believers who don’t fully understand this concept, or confuse it to be reserved only for specific groups of like-minded individuals.

Do NOT fall for these false truths taught around the world within the Christian faith. God has commanded us to love eternally, extending that love to each and every soul that walks the earth.

“Let all that you do be done in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:14

We are called to be perfect, as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48), to love unconditionally, and serve others so that we may all enjoy in Christ forever.

To act in love is not our only calling, however. We must also recognize its meaning when used as a noun.

God as Love

Love the noun is, in essence, another name for God. God is love. And through Love, we can do all things.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

1 John 4:16

The biblical definition of “Love” still stands here. If we replace the word “Love” with “God,” we are given a beautiful look into the character of God and what it truly means to love:

GOD is patient and kind; GOD does not envy or boast; HE is not arrogant or rude. HE does not insist on its own way; HE is not irritable or resentful; HE does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. GOD bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Through His word, guidance, and numerous examples, we can strive to love and be perfect like Christ.

Love in Practice

The Bible has many examples exemplifying God’s love for us and all of creation. The greatest and most widely known example of this is represented in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

This sacrifice of life and body itself displays just how deep God’s love is for us. We should all strive to have a love that strong. This can be achieved by applying 1 Corinthians 13 to our everyday life.

  • We must be patient with our brothers and sisters, believing that no matter where they are in their journey, the Holy Spirit will guide them forward when the time is right (Philippians 4:6).
  • We must show kindness to everyone, even those who would look to do us harm (Matthew 5:43-48).
  • We must be happy for the advancements in others lives, and not become jealous. On the opposite end of that, we should not flaunt our own successes in the faces of others. While it’s okay to feel good about and celebrate the good things that God graces in our lives, it in no way makes us better than any other person in the eyes of God (Jeremiah 9:23).
  • We should always be humble, never insisting on our own way. The only way we should ever insist on is God’s way. Only His way is truly pure and good (Psalm 28:7).
  • We should never praise a bad deed. No matter what perceived good has come from it. Even something as small as a lie should be seen as a sin to be corrected (Matthew 7:17-18).
  • We are meant to stick behind God through all of life’s pain, hardships, and woes. We are never meant to stop loving our brothers and sisters, no matter how many times they betray us, hurt us, or ignore us, just as God has never left us when we’ve committed these exact sins against Him.

So long as we keep our trust in Him and our minds focused upon His will, His love will come naturally. 

Love Intentionally

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

Love is a constant that will never diminish so long as it is true. As Christians, it is our sole duty to love constantly, consistently, and thoroughly with as much intensity as we possibly can. Only through love can we ever hope to save our fallen world.

With Love on our side, there is nothing we can’t do. 

A Prayer for All Us Mountain Goats

Lydia here! My prayer for you all, for myself as well, is that we could truly realize the impact of God’s love. I pray that we can realize the sacrifice that made God’s love so much more evident, and realize how undeserving we are, and how beautifully merciful God is. I pray that God’s love fills us so full that we overflow with love for Him and for others around us. Most of all, I pray that you know how much God loves you.

D. T. Yates

Christian, Content Editor

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction into the Conduct of a Believer

*NOTE: Hey Mountain Goats! This is the introduction to a brand new blog series I’ll be posting about the Fruits of the Spirit. There will be a total of NINE posts following this one that will delve into each of these fruits more specifically. Be sure to check them out as we continue to grow and journey together!

“For the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true”

Ephesians 5:9

How long has it been since you’ve considered your own conduct as a believer? What kind of witness are you reflecting in the way you treat others and the way you respond to trials?

I think it is important to consider, occasionally, how we are perceived by the world. If someone were to meet me today, would they know I was a believer based solely on my behavior? I hope so.

Christ left an example for us when He walked on earth, and gave us a Helper to stay with us when He ascended. Together they teach us to understand the message of the gospel, and show us how to more accurately reflect the glory of the Father in everything we say and do. 

I want to learn what is good and right and true, and share it with everyone around me. I want to reflect God’s glory in my actions, in my conduct, and be such an obvious Christian that people don’t have to wonder. 

So what is it? How can we go about finding what is good, right, and true? And how would I go about sharing it with the world?

The answer is found in Galatians 5:22-23: “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

The Spirit

“But the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26

The Spirit, I believe, is not nearly as understood as Christ or even as God. We learn about Jesus our whole lives, but tend to take for granted the immense gift of the Holy Spirit, God within us. 

The Spirit, or, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead who works continually within our hearts to sanctify us. His part in our sanctification is to be here with us to help us understand more clearly the words of scripture, to live more fully the message of the gospel, and to grow internally to be more like Christ. 

The fruit of the Spirit, then is the Spirit’s character within us, filling us with Christ-like attitude. He is given to us by the Father as a Helper, a guide, so that we will not be left alone. 

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Romans 8:13-17

The Fruit

“Fruit” is a biblical analogy for the conduct of a believer. In other words, how a Christian ought to behave. There are several passages exploring the idea of fruit in the New Testament, particularly as it relates to good fruit and bad fruit. They are summarized as such:

Good fruit is that which reflects the glory and character of Christ; beautiful and tasteful, delicate but healthy. 

Bad fruit is the opposite, it reflects the world and the things of the world. It is negative and often repulsive, something you wouldn’t keep around if you had the choice. 

“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”

Romans 7:4

We, as belonging to Christ, have been freed from sin. If we set our minds on things of the flesh, we cannot please God. It is impossible to “serve two masters,” flesh and God. Thus, we must set our minds on the things of God, the fruit that comes from God. 

In Philippians 4:8, Paul gives us a list of adjectives to consider and set our minds upon. We are to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If we fill our minds with all of this, we won’t have the time or energy to think about the negativity and repulsiveness of the rotten fruit of the world. 

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

Matthew 3:8

Repentance is not only an outward conformity to a new commitment, but an inward dedication to righteousness. So in bearing “fruit in keeping with repentance,” we are letting the work of sanctification fertilize our hearts so that we can bear good, healthy fruit that will continue to ripen and grow. 

In Matthew 15:10-11, Jesus explains to His disciples that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth. He explains further that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is expelled, but that whatever comes out of the mouth, this comes from the heart, and this is what defiles a person. 

The heart and mind of the Christian cannot be pure, the actions of a Christian cannot be pure, if we do not first inwardly reflect on and consider the fruits of the Spirit, the works of the Spirit, and the kingdom of God. 

Good Fruit vs Bad Fruit: Knowing the Difference

As I mentioned before, good fruit can be defined as that which reflects the glory and character of Christ. It is the distinctive set of qualities in a believer’s conduct that sets them apart from everyone else in the world.

These fruits are (Galatians 5:22-23):

  • Love
  • Joy 
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

Christ uses the fruit analogy in the gospels to explain that good fruit can only come from a good tree (foundation, center, inward growth), and that bad fruit comes from a bad tree. This is just as straightforward as it sounds, and is probably one of the clearest analogies in scripture. 

If you nurture the roots of a fruit tree, watering and caring for the leafy sprigs when they pop through the soil, and continue to nurture its trunk, branches,and leaves, and maybe even prop the tree up with some sort of support so it can stand straight and tall, then you can almost guarantee that it will eventually bear good, healthy fruit. 

On the other hand, if you plant a seed for a fruit tree and only occasionally tend to it, barely check on it, and offer no support system as it grows, then it will grow weak, crooked, and could possibly die. The fruit it bears (if any) will be contaminated, will rot, and won’t be able to be consumed.

Fruit, as mentioned above, refers to the conduct of a believer. 

  • Good fruit = good conduct
  • Bad fruit = bad conduct.  

In Galatians 5:16-23, Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the conduct of the world and with the works of flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, etc). 

These characteristics hang our place in the kingdom of heaven in the balance according to Paul in Galatians 5, the conduct that separates God’s children from the rest of the world. He says “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

That’s heavy, the entire idea of our conduct being so important in the end. I know it’s impossible to be perfect. It is impossible to be perfectly pure in our conduct and our intentions. 

But don’t be discouraged! 

That’s why Christ came, to be the perfect branch, the perfect lamb. He set for us an example, one which we can strive to imitate.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” 

Matthew 12:33

When Paul talks about those who practice such immoral qualities as the ones listed above, he is talking about those who are actively sinning with no desire to repent or try to live more like Christ. One sin, or even a hundred sins, is not the definitive end of your eternity. 

I do want to emphasize that everything in scripture is intentional. Everything in scripture is there because it was “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). So we should take it seriously. It is important for us as children of God to actively work on each of these good fruits as they apply to us and our daily lives. 

Conducting Ourselves

As heirs of the kingdom, we are given the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to live our lives as repentant believers, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit as they grow within us.

One of the most beneficial practices of our faith, is prayer. Prayer helps us build our relationship with the Father and to grow stronger in our faith. It can provide us endurance and understanding as we take this journey through the fruits of the Spirit and learn about how to effectively apply them to our lives. The Spirit will work in us to make these behaviors reality, all we have to do is ask. 

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

1 Peter 1:15

Over the next few months, we’ll explore each of the fruits individually, starting with Love and ending with Self-Control. I am so excited to journey through this study together, and to truly understand and apply these ideas to our daily lives! 

A Prayer for all Us Mountain Goats

My prayer for us is that we be constantly aware of the Spirit’s presence within us, working towards bearing “fruit in keeping with repentance,” and desiring an inward change. One that leads to outward growth. I pray that God may encourage us through the people around us, use them to keep us accountable to be loving, joyful, patient, and kind. I pray that we encourage one another as well, that we would be so filled with purpose and direction to serve HIS purpose, and glorify Him forever.

Supporting Verses

Proverbs 20:11
Luke 12:11-12
Romans 5:3-5
1 Timothy 4:12
James 3:13
1 Peter 2:12

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

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