The Spirit’s Fruit: Love

In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul gives us a list of the fruit of God’s Spirit. Notice that it is fruit and not fruits. In other words, all the moral character traits listed in those two verses are organically united to each other, and ought to be understood as aspects of each other in one organic whole. I would submit to you that one of the proper ways to read that list is to recognize that it is another way of Paul describing love. In other words, that we might as easily put a colon after love rather than a comma, and recognize that Paul is saying that the fruit of God’s Spirit is love and it manifests itself in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

According to The Beatles, love is all you need. Of course, you won’t actually learn anything about love from their vapid lyrics, yet we need to learn about love, if we are to know God, and live glorifying him and blessing others.

Unquestionably, 1Corinthians 13 is the text that readily comes to mind when we think of love. There, Paul speaks of the preeminence of love as the greatest human character trait or virtue; greater than faith or hope. It should go without saying that for Paul faith, hope and love are understood in accordance with all of God’s written revelation. It is faith and hope in God, and the love of him of which Paul speaks. Along the way, he delineates what love is. It is patient and kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth, as well as bears, believes, hopes and endures all things. These affirmations, however, have to be understood within other texts that Paul also wrote in Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:22-23.

In Romans 13:8 we read, “Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” The law of which Paul wrote was the Ten Commandments and we know this because in the next verses Paul lists the commandments not to commit adultery, murder, theft and coveting. He concludes that section by writing, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Neither the Old Testament nor the New teach that obedience to God’s law is unnecessary, as if all that matter was our sincerity, or what we thought was a good effort at obeying God.

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