Ahhhh… love. Is there anything like it? The fluttery feeling that pumps into your stomach, along with the lightheaded glee that fills your being when you are with the one you love. Unfortunately… those feelings are not love. They may be an occasional byproduct of love – and there is certainly nothing wrong with having those feelings – but true, God-centered love is a decision that requires selfless and honest behavior. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be writing about the Fruit of the Spirit and how the manifestation of this fruit is important to your relationship….
Love is the first aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit and is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. The Bible says that God is love (I John 4:8); when Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, ESV) These verses show that when love is perfect, the way love is meant to be, we will have no problems keeping God’s commands. Someone who loves the way I Corinthians 13 tells us to love won’t be interested in murder, thievery, or lies. I Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) states, “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.”
Of all the aspects of the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22, love is the most obvious one we think of in regards to relationships. It seems like a given that two people who commit their lives to each other would love each other. Since love is something you do, and primarily not a feeling, there is a good chance that most people do love each other when they get married; however, after the honeymoon is over and the “new” feelings fade, people often think that their love is dying. Feelings may fade, but love does not die until the person actively chooses to stop loving their spouse (e.g., being selfless towards them, thinking of their needs above your own, doing acts of love for them out of care and not obligation, etc.). The movies usually portray love as something you fall into and out of; but, I propose that love is something that matures and grows as you consistently love. The more time, care, concern, and personal sacrifice you put into someone, the more you grow to love him or her. The more of yourself you pour into your future marriage, the more deeply you will love your spouse.
The Fruit of the Spirit is what shows in a believer’s life when he or she is walking with the Lord. When considering a person as a potential spouse, watch his or her life for such spiritual fruit. You will never be able to fully read someone’s heart, but you can observe whether or not someone is bearing fruit – just as you can observe a tree’s fruit. If that fruit is there, love will flow out of them, not only towards you, but towards others as well.
If a guy is treating his girl right, but he treats his mom, sister, and waitress insensitively, he is not living a life of love. If she is sweet to her guy, but she talks with disrespect towards her father, brother, and male friends, she is not walking in love. It is important that you are not led to believe that this person is going to treat you with love for a lifetime if he or she is not treating others with love.
Anyone worth considering as a lifetime partner should show others love. If he has no compassion for a woman who slips and falls beside him, it is not a good sign. If she laughs and makes fun of someone with physical deformities or developmental delays, walk away! However, if you are in a relationship with a man or woman who naturally shows the love of the Lord in his or her everyday life to others, then thank God for that person. Make sure also to consistently show love to others and ask the Lord to help you learn to love others more each day.
What does it mean to love others?