So today, we are continuing our study of the Fruit of the Spirit—which are the Lord’s divine characteristics and attributes that the Holy Spirit helps produce in our lives. Therefore, we learned that these are the fruit of a spiritually alive and Spirit-empowered life and also are the evidence that one is truly spiritual. No, it is not our spiritual giftings that indicate that we are mature spiritually; our spiritual maturity is based on how much of these nine fruit we produce.
You know, fruit is called “produce,” right? That’s because fruit like apples, oranges, bananas, etc. are actual “produce” that we can now benefit from (i.e. eat). Likewise, if we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, then we are “producing” something that others benefit from. And that is what the Lord intends—that we produce His godly characteristics so that the world can experience Him. Amen?
Now these nine fruit of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as “… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …” (Galatians 5:22-23).
So, we began by studying two of the fruit sandwiched in the middle of Paul’s list— the fruits kindness and goodness. And we saw that these are sister fruits because they are so similar. However, we learned that what they have in common is that they are both to be produced in our lives. In other words, they are not just the good and kind intentions we have, but are good and kind manifestations.
We learned that “kindness” describes someone who is useful, manageable, or employed by the Lord. We also saw that the fruit of goodness describes being “beneficial.” So, we learned that if we want to be both useful and beneficial in God’s kingdom, we need to be producing both of these fruit in our lives.
But we learned that as it is with all of the fruit of the Spirit, these fruit do not come by accident. Like it is with growing specific fruit in our gardens, we have to plan to produce the fruits of kindness and goodness. Therefore, one must plan to be good. He or she must learn to think a certain way to be kind. In other words, as it is with all of these fruit of the Spirit, we must make room in our hearts to produce goodness and kindness to those we come in contact with.
Then, the following week, we moved into another couple of fruit of the Spirit—the fruits of longsuffering and faithfulness:
We learned that longsuffering is essentially “patience with people.” And as I made the point of, this fruit of the Spirit comes from the Greek word makrothumia which describes someone who takes a “long” time to get “mad” or “go off” on you like a stick of dynamite. Therefore, a person who possesses “longsuffering” is someone who is extremely forbearing and doesn’t easily “explode” on others. And we learned that this God-empowered ability to “forebear” with people is a virtue that must be put on—meaning, it requires a certain mentality to produce it in our lives.
Then we looked at the fruit of faithfulness and saw that this particular fruit of the Spirit is describing someone who, through their faith, is reliable and loyal—that is, he or she is trustworthy, dependable, dedicated, consistent and unwavering in their dealings with others. In other words, people can believe in this person who exhibits faithfulness. I also made the point that since this Greek word used for “faithfulness” is the word for “faith” we really cannot separate our faithfulness in life from our faith in the Lord. Yes, God’s faithfulness is what our faith is rooted in, and our faithfulness is the fruit of the faith we have in Him.
Then last week, we covered the last two fruit that the apostle Paul mentions, which are the only two listed in Galatians 5:23—gentleness & self-control. And we learned that these two fruit of the Spirit are probably at the bottom of just about every believer’s list as well. Therefore, while we might tend to focus more on the love, joy and peace side of the fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness, humility, and self-control are the other side of the fruit of the Spirit that will make us fully fruitful.
Regarding this, I shared with you how I once had the Lord ask me— “Would you like to know what the muscles of your spirit man are?” Then He told me— “They are the fruit of the Spirit.” Essentially, what the Lord was telling me was that just as we recognize people from a distance by their physical physique, we recognize those who are both spiritual and unspiritual by their spiritual physique. In that case, it is by their fruit (their spiritual muscles or lack thereof) that we will know them.
So, I said all of that to say, we don’t want to be like a lot of the gym rats out there that go to the gym to work out only their chest, shoulders, and arms and have these skinny little quads and calves. No, we need to develop the lower body just like we are (hopefully) looking to develop the upper body. And in this case, the lower body is the lower third of Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit (i.e. faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). Therefore, attention needs to be given to developing the lower third of our spiritual muscles just like we desire to be developed in the upper third fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, and peace. Once we do that, we will be a perfect man and “full of fruit.” Amen?
So, we looked at the fruit of the gentleness and saw that it essentially describes someone who is gentle, meek or mild. Mild as opposed to sharp, right? Therefore, a person exhibiting this fruit of the Spirit is a person who is the opposite of being abrasive, severe, harsh, and arrogant. It is for this reason that I would describe it as “humility.”
Now even though most translations use this word “gentleness,” many of us might better recognize the King James version’s translation of “meekness” here. And I believe that because of terms like this, many Christians do not esteem this particular virtue—because for some of us, we don’t see the terms “gentleness” and “meekness” as strengths. But what we need to understand is that “meekness” does not necessarily describe a weak person. No, meekness is not weakness. Rather, meekness is power under perfect control.
You see, if I am mild & meek, it doesn’t mean I don’t have something to offer or don’t have an opinion; it just simply means that, in my love for you, I am willing to lay down my thoughts, opinion and viewpoint. Could I let you have it? Absolutely! But what does the selfless love of God do? It doesn’t do what it can do; it does what you are open to it doing for you. And we learned that this is exactly how our God is—He is meek and lowly in heart. He doesn’t force His will on any of us, but gives us a free choice.
Therefore, this fruit of humility, meekness and gentleness is going to have to be chosen by us. No, as it is with all of the fruit of the Spirit, humility is not going to forced on us by God. We are taught that we must pursue and put on this virtue ourselves. Amen?
We then looked at the last fruit of the Spirit Paul mentions—the fruit of self-control. We learned that the Greek word describes “inward ruling power.” In other words, like a democracy is literally “people ruling power,” a person exhibiting the fruit of self-control is a person who is “governing” themselves. So, “self-control” is the supernatural ability of the Holy Spirit to rule over our outward man by our inward man.
But we learned that like you’ll hear said in the world regarding people shooting down the notion that the majority rules when it comes to certain decisions— “This is not a democracy!”—it is not with this particular fruit of the Spirit either! No, God the Father is not going to control you for you! Jesus is not going to make you produce His fruit either! And contrary to popular opinion, the Holy Spirit is also not going to make you bear this fruit of self-control! No, the only one that will control you is you!
We went through several examples last week that prove that even the people who might say that they just cannot help doing this or doing that are mistaken. No, in almost every case, people do what they can get away with. In other words, they can control themselves because when it comes to consequences and rewards, they do it all the time for these things. No, the person who truly cannot control themselves is a demonized person. But for the majority of us who don’t have some other spirit controlling us, it is our own spirit that is in control.
But again, this takes supernatural strength a lot of times. We need the Holy Spirit to help us control certain feelings, emotions, and flesh that rear their ugly heads. This is why we looked at Proverbs 16:32, which is a great verse describing the strength of a person who can control themselves: It says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
You see, like we said with “meekness,” people do not see self-restraint as a strength, but it truly is. A weak person lacks self-control—saying whatever comes up, venting all their feelings, and simply losing control. A strong person controls his or her words & actions—being even more mighty than someone who conquers an entire city. That shows us just how hard it is to “control self,” and why we need the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in this fruit. Perhaps this is the reason the apostle Paul listed “self-control” last—because it is the pinnacle of living a Spirit-controlled life.
Church, you have probably heard me say before that we are walking in the fruit of the Spirit the most when we feel like smacking somebody and we don’t. That’s actually the fruit of self-control in operation. It is not an absence of “feelings” or a void of negative “emotions.” No, it is the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit within us to not feed those emotions and to not act on those feelings. This is self-control—the highest form of personal government one can possess. Amen?
Now, this week, let’s move on and look at yet another fruit of the Spirit. In fact, this week, we will begin covering the first three fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentioned in Galatians 5:22, but I want us to cover these three individually—for we have much to say about the virtues of love, joy and peace.
And the one that we will cover this week is not just any, old fruit of the Spirit. The one we will camp on today is the undisputable greatest fruit that we can produce in our lives—LOVE.
Now first of all, we need to understand that there is a big difference between the way God uses the word “love” and the way the world uses the word “love.” This word “love” comes from the Greek word agape, which describes the God kind of love, again different than a worldly kind of love.
You see, in the world, we are quick to loosely throw around the term “love.” We say I love Jesus, I love my wife, and I love my children the same way we say, I love pizza, I love chocolate, and I love coffee. But that is a cheap, generic, artificial love—because it is generally based on the performance of the thing we say we love. For example, what if the pizza man doesn’t use the best ingredients, or the pizza is cold, etc.? Then you are not going to say you love that pizza. What about the coffee? If it’s cold, watered down, or isn’t sweetened properly, you probably won’t say that you “love” that cup of coffee, right?
My point is that this is worldly love because it is based on the condition of the thing we are loving. No, the God kind of love we are talking about here is a love that is not based on the behavior of the one being loved; it is solely based on the character of the one doing the loving. Therefore, agape is unconditional, limitless, and self-sacrificing.
So, back to that example of loving coffee. If I truly did love coffee the way agape loves, then even if the coffee is bitter, bland, or just doesn’t taste the best, I will still drink from that cup. Amen? And why? Because it is not based on how good the coffee is; it is based on how good I am at loving unconditionally.
Now the King James Version translates this God kind of love as “charity,” which I believe is a good description of agape because when one gives to a charity, there is nothing expected in return. It is understood that when we give to a “charity” that there are no strings attached and there is no reciprocation. Not to mention, “charities” are not designed to receive well wishes or good intentions. They receive tangible goods and monetary gifts. Likewise, agape is not just saying “I love you”; it is giving love.
I believe John 3:16 describes it best by saying, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” It did not say that God so loved the world that He said to it, “I love you so, so much.” Nor did it say, “…that He gave it big hug.” No, He so agape’d us that He gave something (rather, Someone) to us and for us! And He did not just give anything; He gave His very best. Amen!
So, we need to understand that this fruit of love is not to be cheapened by comparing it to this world’s idea of love. No, agape is not a love that is determined by the person being loved; it is only determined by both the nature and actions of the one doing the loving. Amen.
WHY LOVE IS FIRST
But again, I want you to notice that agape is listed first in Paul’s list of the Fruit of the Spirit. Now I believe there are several reasons that love is mentioned first in Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit:
For one, I believe Paul put love first because it is the BEST! But why is it best? Well, for one, it is the core-nature and characteristic of God Himself. We are told in First John 4:8 that “God is love.” This is not saying that God has love to give. No, God is love! And we know that God has the preeminence, right? Yes, He is the greatest, the most glorious, the highest. Yes, God is the top of the food-chain! So, if God is love, then guess what? Love is the top of the “fruit-chain” too! Love is the highest and He is the best! Amen?
I believe another reason love is listed first is because it is supposed to be one of those first fruits produced in a believer’s life. You know, we have Scriptures that indicate that our love for others is one of the ways that we know we have passed from death unto life (see First John 3:14). Therefore, love is what a born-again believer possesses—thus, love is not only the greatest; it is the first.
Now does that phrase—"love is the greatest”—sound familiar? It should. It’s located in First Corinthians chapter 13: In First Corinthians 13:13, the Apostle Paul says that now abides faith, hope and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.
And why is love the greatest? As we’ve seen, it is because it is what God is, but it is also because love is the only one of these three remaining virtues that we begin to walk in now and will continue to walk in throughout eternity. We won’t need faith when we are looking at Him face to face. We won’t need hope when we are experiencing the fulfillment of His promises in that Great Day. But love will always be practiced—from now throughout all eternity! Amen.
But, not only is love simply the greatest; Jesus told us that it is also the greatest of all the commandments.
In Matthew 22:36-40, we read the story of how the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the law was. And Jesus responded by saying, first, by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Mark & Luke’s account add the word “strength”). But Jesus went on to say that the second greatest commandment is “like it”—to love your neighbor as yourself. Why did Jesus say it is like that? Why did he say loving our neighbor as ourselves is “like” loving God? It is because loving others is actually “like” loving God. Jesus revealed to us how this is so when he said that whatever we do to the least of these, we have done it unto Him (see Matthew 25:40). So, we really cannot separate loving God from loving people—because God takes personally how we love others.
But my point is, loving God and loving our neighbor is considered the greatest commandment in all of the law. The apostle Paul reveals to us that love is actually the fulfillment of all the law (see Romans 13:10). So, if I am truly loving God and loving others, then I am fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law. Therefore, love is the greatest thing you and I can produce in our lives.
THE NEW COMMANDMENT
But when Jesus came to show us God’s heart and His love for us, He introduced a new commandment to us. It is called the new commandment of love because the old commandment of love told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This new commandment Jesus introduced is a little different.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “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.” So, can you see why it is so important for us to love one another? Jesus said here that this is how all will know that we are His disciples—by the love we have for one another.
Now notice that Jesus said here that this was a new commandment that He was giving them. He didn’t say a new “suggestion” or a new “recommendation;” He said a new commandment— showing us that this is not just a good idea; it is a charge and an order.
Now again, loving others was not new in the sense that they did not have this commandment under the Old Covenant. We just saw in Matthew 22:37-40 that loving our neighbor as ourselves was one of the greatest two commandments from the Old Testament along with loving God. On top of that, you see threaded throughout the prophets, God’s constant emphasis placed on loving people—executing righteousness and justice and showing mercy towards others.
The apostle John amplifies this more in his first epistle when he said, “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.” (First John 2:7) In other words, the love command was written in the beginning in the Old Covenant. So, this instruction to love one another was not new in the sense that they did not know its importance and significance. But as the Apostle John goes on to say in the next verse— “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (verse 8).
So, loving one another as Christ has loved us is the new and better commandment, even though loving our neighbor was written long before. It was a new standard of love, not necessarily a new idea. So, loving their neighbor was not new to them, but loving one another as He had loved them was certainly new and a much higher standard of love. Amen!
BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US
But in order for you and I to obey this new commandment of love, we have to first experience His love for us because Jesus said, “as I have loved you.” So, before we move any further into talking about the love we need to be producing in our lives, we need to know and believe the love that the Lord has for us.
In First John 4:19 we are taught that we love (the word “Him” was not in all of the Greek texts. So, let’s leave it out and see what this verse means without it) because He first loved us. So, how are we going to be able to love God and love God’s people if He hasn’t first loved us? We won’t and we can’t. Sure, He loves us all already, but if we have tasted His goodness, experienced His love and seen His grace, we will have a major uphill battle to loving the brethren. Why? Because we cannot give away what we have not first received.
So, when we see His love for us and receive it, then we have the standard by which we are to love others with. Amen? And that is the gist of what Jesus was saying here in John 13:34—that we are to specifically love one another “as I have loved you.” So how can we love one another as He has loved us if we have not experienced that love for us first? In other words, how can we fulfill this commandment if we haven’t experienced this love personally? We can’t.
So, we can conclude that the best way to produce this fruit of love in our life is to first obviously have had the Holy Spirit place it in our spirit man, and secondly, to believe, know, and receive God’s love for us.
LOVE IS SPIRITUAL
But now, I want us to move further into this fruit of the Spirit of love by talking about how we produce it in our lives since we have already received it. So, let’s look back at John 13:34 and notice again what this Scripture says— “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Now you heard me say earlier that this is not the new suggestion or the new ideal. No, this is the new commandment of the New Covenant! So, I believe the fact that Jesus called this a “commandment” is a great place to start in discovering how we produce the fruit of love. Why? It is because a commandment does not necessarily involve emotions or feelings. In other words, a command is something we do whether we feel like it or not.
You see, a “command” is most commonly defined as “to give someone an order.” A common usage of this is with a commanding officer, like in the military, giving orders to those under himself. Now those of you who have served in the military would agree to this point—but more times than not, when you were given orders to do something, you didn’t feel like doing what they told you to do. Particularly, when you were in basic training and those drill sergeants gave you orders like “drop and give me twenty” or “go run 5 miles!”, nothing in your flesh or your soul wanted to do it. But guess what? You did it anyway! And why? Because you were given orders by your authorities.
One very important lesson I have learned in this regard is that when it comes to submitting to your authorities, you are not submitting when your authority figures tell you to do something that you like or agree with and then you do it. No, you only truly submit to your authorities when they tell you to do something, you don’t agree with it or you dislike what they are telling you to do, and you do it anyway. This is when true submission to authority occurs.
So, when it comes to this new “commandment” of loving one another, it has nothing to do with what we feel, what we think or what we want; it all has to do with simply following orders. Love is the orders from headquarters!
Again, as a general rule, the world believes that love is a feeling. They’ll use the terminology like “I just fell in love with them” or “I just fell out of love”—indicating that love is a feeling and not a decision. But this is wrong!
What do they say when they “fall out of love?” “I just don’t feel for you the way I used to feel about you.” This, again, indicates that love is a feeling or an emotion. No! When someone says they have fallen out of love with someone, really what they are saying is that they have “fallen out of feelings.”
It is actually impossible to “fall out of” true love. Why? Because love is an act of your will! It is not a feeling! No, real love never ENDS (First Corinthians 13:8)! It changes not!
Church, agape is a spiritual thing! Therefore, it is eternal and unchanging! For aren’t we taught that God is Spirit (John 4:24)? And we are also taught that God is love, right (First John 4:8)? So, this means that Love is a spiritual thing!
You know, we are a spirit too. We are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body, and it is vital that we understand what the Lord accomplished in us through the new birth. Again, Galatians 5:22-23 teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit begins with love and includes joy, peace etc. And we have also seen that either way you look at it, this fruit of a spiritually alive and Spirit-empowered life is already in us. So, whether or not you believe that these fruit are the fruit of our reborn spirit or the fruit of the Holy Spirit, either way, this means we already have this fruit within us. Amen? Yes, I already have love in my heart for in Romans 5:5, the Apostle Paul says that the love of God has already been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Amen! So, my point is that love is already in there! We are not trying to get more love from the outside in; we are simply working out our salvation to get more love from the inside out! Amen!
But so many have a hard time believing this because they feel that they do not have love because they don’t “feel” love. In other words, because they don’t have the emotions of love and there is selfishness, anger, etc. in there, they believe that they are void of love. But this is when we must believe what the Word says more than what our feelings and our heads are telling us. Amen! And, as it is with everything spiritual in nature such as love, we are not led by our feelings:
For example, this is why I am big proponent in acting on the joy that we have inside of us. We can do this by laughing at our circumstances and the devil by faith. It doesn’t have anything to do with the way we feel. But since joy too is a fruit of the Spirit, do we just sit there and cater to our feelings saying, “Well, I don’t feel like laughing right now.” We wouldn’t say that— “Well, I don’t feel like reading my Bible anymore” and then just cater to that, would we? No, we have enough sense to know that is wrong. Nor would we believe that because we don’t feel like praising God that we evidently do not need to press through those feelings and cater to our flesh. No, if we know we are to act on things like this whether we feel like it or not, why would walking in any of the fruit of the Spirit be done any differently? No, we laugh by faith because joy is a fruit of the Spirit. And we love by faith as well!
Saints, what I am saying is—do not wait until you feel like operating in these spiritual things before you practice them. Know that they are fruits of the spirit and spiritual things are not based on feelings.
Now the reason I bring this out is because I have been around long enough to see that most believers that even desire to grow in love are waiting for the feelings and emotions of this love for others to come all over them. In other words, they are waiting to feel like loving people before they actually act on this commandment.
Saints, I’m here to tell you that if you are waiting for all of these “lovey dovey” emotions to come all over you and overtake you, you are going to be waiting a long time! As you have likely heard me say before, I believe you are walking in love the most when you feel like strangling somebody, but as an act of your will, you decide to bless them instead. In other words, love is being exercised the most when our feelings are completely contrary but we act on the decision to love. Amen!
As I have already said, love is a fruit of the Spirit—meaning, it is spiritual in nature. It’s not something that is tied into our flesh or our soul. Therefore, it doesn’t involve our feelings (a product of the flesh) or our emotions (a product of the soul). Love is a spiritual thing—meaning, it is an action that comes as a result of our will.
Saints, if we are going to be a “spiritual” man or woman, we are going to have to learn to live out of the part of us that is walking by faith (i.e. the spirit) and not yield to the part of us that is weak by feelings (i.e. the flesh). Yes, being spiritual is a decision! It's an action—an act of our will (for the spirit is willing). It is not carnal to have feelings and emotions; it is carnal to act on those feelings and emotions; to act on what we know is true and, by faith, will to do those things, is spiritual.
Let me give you a good Scriptural example of this: In Titus 2:3-4, the Apostle Paul told Pastor Titus that the older women were to, among other things, admonish the young women to love their husbands and to love their children.
So, were these older women to admonish the younger women to “feel” more like loving their husbands and their children? No! You do not admonish someone to have certain emotions and feelings. What these older women were being admonished to do was to teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children—which, of course, would be actions and deeds of love. Amen!
You see, love is more of an action than it is an emotion. And if we can be taught how to love, then we should know that it is an act of our own volition. If it were an emotion, then it would be out of our control because we are always going to have ups and downs in our emotions. But since love is a commandment, we know that it is in our control because the Lord would not have told us to do something that it wasn’t in our control to do. Amen!
Yes, church, spirituality is having command over our feelings and emotions and learning to do things simply because it is what we are told to do or it is simply the right thing to do. Church, we must have resolve and integrity—doing what is right simply because it is right and because it is a command. We should need no other reason to love one another than this!
I believe a great example of what I am talking about is the subject of “forgiveness”: If you look up these words “forgiving and forgave,” you will notice something very significant about forgiveness: The word “forgive” comes from the Greek word charis which is commonly translated “grace.” Now the word “grace” means to give something freely, with no strings attached. If you are giving someone “grace,” you are giving them something they don’t necessarily deserve nor have they done anything to earn it. Therefore, a common definition for “forgiveness” when considering the word “grace” is to freely forgive.
Now why do I make this point? It is because oftentimes the mentality that people have which causes them to have a harder time forgiving people is that the person that offended them doesn’t deserve to be forgiven—maybe they haven’t even been repentant and asked for forgiveness.
Now I would venture to say that most of us, if the person that hurt us came to us and said something to the effect of— “You know, I was wrong. I am so sorry. Please forgive me” that we would forgive them. But what makes forgiveness a little more difficult is when the person who hurt us doesn’t show any signs of being repentant and no remorse for what they did—which is, unfortunately, what happens most of the time.
But that is when this true meaning of forgiveness becomes so important—because now I know I am called to forgive freely whether I feel they deserve it or not. I am “for-giving”—that is, I am giving them grace in advance of them deserving it or asking for it--like God loved us when we were still ungodly sinners.
But this goes in line with what we have been talking about this week—because how many of you know that like love, forgiveness is a commandment! It’s expected of us! It is our duty! Therefore, feelings are not expected to follow obeying commandments. Amen?
In Luke 17:1-5, we have a Scripture that reiterates this point: In the beginning of Luke chapter 17, Jesus begins to talk to His disciples about offenses and how we must do whatever is in our power not to cause others to stumble (verses 1-2). Then He tells His disciples to take heed to themselves that they live a life of forgiveness no matter how many times someone sins against them (verses 3-4).
Well, it is interesting to note the reaction that this call to forgiveness generated in His disciples: In verse 5 we are told— “And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” What does “increasing our faith” have to do with forgiveness? In other words, why would they ask the Lord to increase their faith immediately after He tells them to keep forgiving that sinning brother who keeps sinning against them? Apparently, it is because we forgive by faith. In other words, if we are called to raise our standard of forgiving one another, then we also need an increase of faith to forgive them by.
You see, saints, we don’t forgive because we feel like forgiving or even because we feel like we have forgiven; we forgive, not because we feel like forgiving, but because of our faith in God and through our faith in God.
You know, I’ve dealt with people who think they have not forgiven because they have all of the feelings and emotions that scream on the inside of them telling them that they hate that person. But those thoughts and emotions are not necessarily proof that you haven’t forgiven them.
You see, people just want to feel like they’ve forgiven, but that it is not what a spiritual person does. A person who has decided to walk in the spirit does not go by how they feel; they are only moved by their faith. And because they have made the choice to forgive by faith, that is all they need. As it is with receiving anything from God, they don’t need the feelings to confirm it.
And this call to forgive by faith is reiterated by the Lord in verses 7-10: In this lesson, Jesus gives us the example of a servant who, when he comes in from his day’s work, is not afforded the opportunity to sit down and eat, but first must serve his master and then he can serve himself. Jesus then gives the point of this story that this servant is not rewarded nor even thanked for serving his master because he simply did what was his duty to do.
The point that Jesus was making by giving this example in context is that we don’t forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ because we feel like it or because of any benefit that we get out of it. No, our primary motivation for forgiving (next to loving God and loving the person) is because it is simply our duty as Christians! We do it because it is the right thing to do! Amen!
And this is what this fruit of love does—it gives by faith and it forgives by faith. Faith works by love, and I would add that love works by faith too (see Galatians 5:6). This is what a truly spiritual person does—produces this fruit of love not by necessarily having loving feelings, but by producing loving actions. Amen!
Now the Holy Spirit is certainly there to help us produce this fruit of love. He will do this by inspiring the actions, by putting the compassion in your heart, but like Jesus, we must then be moved with that compassion.
So, what I want to encourage you with is that this love is not something that is going to one day just fall on us like an apple out of tree. It is something that, although it is already on the inside of us, it must be aggressively pursued to see its fruit in your life. In other words, it must become your goal and aim and then you endeavor to walk in it because it is a command from our Lord Jesus Christ.
After Paul teaches us all about love in First Corinthians chapter 13—how doing things not motivated by love is profitless, what love looks like and how love is the greatest cardinal of Christianity—he says in First Corinthians 14:1that we are to “Pursue love!”
The word “pursue” comes from the Greek word diakeo which describes to willfully, forcefully and aggressively pursue. It was actually a hunting term that illustrates how the love walk is something that must be pursued like a hunter pursues his or her prey.
For example, these guys that just love to go deer hunting, what do they do? Well, as deer season is approaching, I’ve heard how they will sit out on their front porch and just be staring out into the distance. What they are doing is they are meditating and predetermining what they are going to do when deer season starts. Then on the days they go hunting, they will get up at the crack of dawn to go get set up and ready. In short, some spend countless hours preparing, premeditating and doing the actual hunting. That is how we should pursue love—like these avid deer hunters are hunting deer.
I just love the Message Bible’s translation of First Corinthians 14:1: It says, “Go after a life of love as if your life depends on it—because it does!” Amen!
Saints, if we want to experience the life of God to where joy, peace, power etc. are the fruits we see in our lives, it all depends on finding and fulfilling the love of God in our lives! Friends, this is where the life of God is; it is found in the love of God! Amen! So aggressively pursue it! Make it your aim! For when you catch it, it will catch you! Amen!
Now let me end by saying that we obviously could spend months talking about this subject of love, as agape is such a vast subject being God’s core nature. But I do want to let you know that I did teach on this extensively back in 2016 here at HPC in a series entitled “How to Love One Another.” So, you can either go back in our archives on our website and listen to this 9-part series that I did June thru September of 2016 or you can order the CDs/DVDs. I also have my notes available if you would like them.
What I simply want us all to do is pursue it with all of your heart. Studying the love walk and keeping it before us is such an important part of the Christian walk. Again, pursue it and it will fill your branches. Amen!