Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fruit of the Spirit: Love

I've recently begun studying the fruit of the spirit (as listed in Galatians 5), so I thought I'd start a series on it on this blog. We will make it through this topic(eventually), but I'm not guaranteeing to be finished by a certain day or time or even stay on topic on a consistent basis. I'm sure I'll blog about a lot of other things in between the discussing the fruit, but we will get through it!

I feel it's important to re-visit this very familiar topic because of my own personal shortcomings. I personally could use more development (and maturity) of my own particular 'fruit' - a lesson I clearly learned during my bus ride to work last week.

I take the bus every day to work. So, every morning, I rush to get ready, get in my car and head out to the bus terminal, where I leave my car for the day.

Well, I got on the bus one day last week and had pleasantly settled into my seat. I had an empty seat next to me, so I got a little more comfortable than I normally would have (my body language normally resembles an uptight effigy - arms tightly glued to sides or crossed in front of me, feet close together, firmly in my own space). So, just as I hit my optimal state of relaxation (or as relaxed as it gets on public transportation), the bus stops to pick up someone else and the woman who got on sat down right in the empty seat next to me! Or, I should say, right next to me and partly on top of me!

She was an older woman (which should have made me feel more forgiving, but had the exact opposite effect), so she stumbled a bit in reaching her seat, and leaned heavily against me as she regained her balance. This caused me to promptly draw myself together, hoping to silently encourage her to do the same. But, no such luck! She was comfortably sprawled in her seat, in part of mine and definitely on top of my coat.

And then the ride began. We hit every bump, turn and curve in tandem, as she stayed glued to my side. Any sharp left-hand turns (and there were several) meant she was comfortably cushioned against my resistant side. Every bump meant she had to re-straighten her bags, her arms, her legs, her whatever. She never seemed to get properly braced, instead seeming to rely on me (and the person on the other side of her) to help her get through the rough places on the ride.

By the time she got off, I was silently blessing her out, muttering things about 'old people' under my breath and giving her the evil eye as I vowed to be on the lookout for her the next day so that I would not have to suffer such indignities and abuse of my person.

It took several moments after she left for me to 'remember' I was a Christian. And then, of course, I was appalled at myself! Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day trying to get it together and vowed to do better with my 'love' walk, among other things.

So here we are today.

And now, on to our study!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 'fruit' of the Spirit, these are attributes or qualities we should display as Christians. They are virtues that every Christian should try to attain through time, practice and under the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit (because you cannot do it alone!). As with most things Biblical, developing more 'fruit' is a spiritual exercise, and should not be confused with positive thinking, positive affirmations or mental gymnastics of any kind. It is not based on your thoughts or your emotions - but it is a lesson learned directly from the Holy Spirit to your own spirit. (Maybe that's why it's so hard to develop them sometimes!)

So that's what it is meant by 'fruit' of the Spirit. And what are these 'fruit'? They can be found in Galatians 5 and are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. Sounds fun already!

Love, however, is the most important of these fruit. As a matter of fact, love is so important, there is an entire chapter devoted to it! (And I know you already know it, if you've attended any wedding in the last decade.) It can be found in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13. It, reads, in part:
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;

6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth;

7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Love never faileth:

And, if you didn't gather just how very important love is from the above verses, this chapter ends by saying:
1Co 13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

So, there you have it: we absolutely, positively must have love. And not just any kind of love. Strong's Concordance defines the type of love mentioned here as 'agape' love - which is far, far from the type of love we normally show to each other. Agape love is the type of love that God shows to us - unconditional, unwavering and selfless.

So, we are not only to love each other, but to show the type of love that God shows us to other people, too! Wow. That's deep. (And far, far from what I felt towards that poor woman on the bus!)

So that's our lesson for today - love others with the same love that God has shown us.

(Please feel free to add any other hints, tips or advice to this series. Anything we can say to help each other in our walk is always good and useful information.)

, , , , ,

5 comments:

Higher said...

Good Post,
I appreciate your honesty and openess about the bus ride...

I have discovered through working with children that by replacing the word "fruit" with the word "proof", you get a whole new perspective...
Agriculture is not as common these days so fruit doesn't have the same effect...when you use the word proof, instead of just implying that a christian should have love, joy peace, ect it becomes a measurement to let us know to what extent of God's Spirit we are allowing to operate in our lives...

for example the "proof" that I am operating in God's Spirit is manifested by love toward people, self control despite our circumstances...and so on...

just another way to look at it;)

I look forward to the rest of the series

Anonymous said...

I am going to like this series. I love your honesty about the "bus ride". Haven't we all been there one time or another?!

We all have had some type of difficutly in expressing our love unconditionally to all we meet. This type of unconditional love can even be hard to display with our family members. Why is this so? Because we are first humans and operate as such, therefore, as humans everything comes as a condition. We love on a "conditional" basis (though we like to believe that we can love unconditionally) as long as there is no discord, disharmony, or etc that affects our livelihood. Once these "conditions" of love are met, we apt to announce the we love unconditionally. If these "conditions" aren't met, then we struggle through life trying to find that one thing, one person, one event, that provides us with the requirements of our "conditional" love. It is during this struggle that we fail to realize that only GOD can provide us with all the requirements of our "conditional" love, therefore we should only depend on Him to love us unconditionally (and with our faults).

Gina Burgess said...

Sonya, this is uncanny. I decided day before yesterday to do a series on the Fruit of the Spirit illustrated. This should be interesting. :)

ms mimi the mocha soulchild said...

Thank you, Sonya, for reminding me about this. This post came right on time. I currently am confronting what I view to be some very unlovable, hate filled people. I was so angry, not so much at them, but that their actions hurt the very same people they are saying they want to help. I prayed to God to give me the wisdom to respond.

But you remind us of Chirst's example. Loving them is EXACTLY what we have been called to do. Maybe if I respond to them with kindness they will see Christ in me. If not, at least I will offer the opportunity.

sonya said...

Hello Everyone!

Thank you all for your comments. I just came back from a long weekend and am thoroughly enjoying what you all have written.

Higher:

That is so on point with calling it 'proof' instead of 'fruit'. That makes a whole lot of sense to me and I will remember to refer to it in casual conversation or for extra emphasis in the future.

Anonymous:

Yeah, that whole unconditional love thing is deep. I don't even love myself unconditionally. I am so glad that we are not God because we are not even capable of feeling that way towards one another. Ooh, and you are so right about those 'conditions'. I have many different sets for my friends and my family, not to mention my poor beleaguered boyfriend! I am very quick to walk away and be 'done' with a person - totally in opposition to God's word. Let's pray for each other that we all do a lot better with lovng one another as God would have us to do.

Ms. Gina:

It is pretty amazing that you are doing the exact same series. I suppose God has a plan for all of us. He definitely led me to this study, cuz I try to avoid the 'deep' stuff as much as possible (can you say 'lazy'?). I'll be checking out your series as well. Hopefully we can all come through this a little stronger, a little wiser and a lot more 'fruit'-ful!

Ms. Mimi:

I am sad that you have to be around people who are not very loving or kind. However, what that tells me is that you are uniquely equipped to deal with that situation. As we know God never gives us more than we can bear (and that there is always a way of escape), you must be there because you can take it.

I pray that you find the strength you need in God. And please do pray for them - it is very hard for people to withstand the presence of God. They can ignore us, but it's a lot harder to ignore the Holy Spirit tapping on their conscience.