By Gemma Tuson
Over the coming months, on the Be Loved blog, we will be looking at the individual fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians 5, and learn how we can help them to flourish.
So what are the Fruit of the Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5 22-23 NIV
The word ‘fruit’ in this passage refers to a living element. It is singular, not plural, because all these attributes are simultaneously grown through living and walking with Jesus. They are a collection of characteristics that manifest as we seek Him, and cannot grow on their own.
Just like real fruit, they do not ripen over night. We have to ‘water’ them and wait for them to grow. Remembering to always come back to Jesus to ask for forgiveness when we have messed up, and asking Him to help us in the future.
In Greek language the word ‘Love’ has 4 different ways it can be used. In English we only have one way to say it, so sometimes it can be confusing.
We ‘love’ a photo on instagram, love pizza, love a new top we just bought and also love our friends and family.
There is no distinction here between the different uses of the word love, although common sense tells us that someone probably doesn’t love pizza in the same way that they love their family!
In the Greek there are 4 distinct ways:
Agape – the love between God and man and visa versa.
Eros – intimate love between 2 people.
Philia – affectionate love between friends, family and community.
Storge – the love of a child by a parent.
When God speaks of love in the Bible he is referring to Agape love.
In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus says ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
This sort of love is sacrificial love, before anything or anyone else.
And then he goes on to say ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no command greater than these.’
He wants us to love ourselves and other people in the same way we love Him.
With ‘agape’ love.
So what does loving each other in this way look like?
Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This well known verse is used time and time again at weddings to explain what love should really look like, I even had it as a reading at my own wedding. But if Paul had intended it to be only for weddings then this love that he is talking about would be ‘Eros’ love.
The reality is Paul did not write it for a wedding. He did in fact write it to a church that was mistreating and disrespecting one another. They were doing all the things that people who went to church should do, but they weren’t behaving themselves when it came to loving one another.
Paul wrote to them to explain exactly how they should be treating each other… with ‘agape’ love.
Now you know this, have a read through the passage again.
Paul starts off by telling them that although they are ‘acting’ like Christians, without love, it is a complete waste of time.
He then goes on to list two things that love is…
Patient & kind.
Paul is saying to the church, IF you are loving one another correctly, you should be acting with patience and kindness.
He then goes on to list what love is not...
Firstly, it does not dishonour others.
To dishonour someone means to bring disgrace or shame onto them. Paul must have known that this sort behaviour was happening within the church to mention it.
Secondly, it is not self-seeking.
This means not putting yourself and your own welfare before that of other people.
Thirdly, it is not easily angered.
How quickly can we sometimes get angry.
Fourthly, it keeps no record of wrongs.
When we say we’ve forgiven someone, have we really forgiven them?
Fifthly, Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
Okay so we probably don’t delight when something horrible has happened, but if something bad happens to someone, are we ever slightly happy inside that it hadn’t happened to us?
He then finishes off by highlighting what love is again…
It always protects – to keep safe from harm or injury.
Always trusts – reliance on the integrity, strength and ability of a person.
Always hopes – the feeling of that what is wanted can be had, or things will turn out for the best.
Always persevere – To persist even when things are difficult.
Did you notice how I started to apply that to you and I as we went on?
That’s because even though Paul was writing to a church around 1600 years ago, it is all still very relevant to us today.
If on a daily basis we seek to put others needs before our own and act in these ways highlighted by Paul, then we are ‘watering’ love in our lives which will lead to it flourishing and growing within us.
I invite you to join we me this month to endeavor to cultivate ‘agape’ love, because, as Paul notes, love never fails.
Love and be loved,
Gemma is the creator of the Be Loved resource. She has worked with young people for over 10 years doing various creative workshops all over the UK. For the past 3 years she has also been working in schools as a mentor, allowing young people the space to chat through issues one on one. She loves drinking tea, cooking and all things craft related. Her heart is to see young people reach their full potential and be set free from any issues, or circumstances, that can hold them back.
Gemma has been married to Mark for 13 years and they have two gorgeous children together.