In the next few weeks, we will take a look at the fruit of the Spirit. We will find that the emphasis is not so much on what the Holy Spirit causes us to do, but how He causes us to be.
Jesus taught his disciples that when He went away, He would send another counselor (besides Himself) who would be with them forever—the Spirit of truth.
“The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
Jesus went on to give them that wonderful passage about the vine and the branches. He is the vine from which we draw our source of spiritual life. We stay alive and fruitful only when we, as branches, stay connected to the vine.
Paul gives us a delightful list of the fruit our branches will bear with the help of the Holy Spirit. We call it, of course, “the fruit of the Spirit.” But first Paul lists the acts of our sinful nature—like sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, etc. Then he tells us:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
Today, we begin with “love.” Ah, sweet love. It is why Jesus came. It encompasses what He taught. It defines how He lived. It is the reason He died for you and me.
Likewise, He expects it of us.
“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17
Truly, this is our hearts desire, but what if we don’t even like someone much less have love for the person? Permit me to share an experience from my days at Georgetown College.
I couldn’t wait to participate in a Bible study/discussion group led by a well-respected teacher on campus. We gathered for our first meeting and all went well. However, one guy in the group just turned me off. Jake wasn’t very attractive and was a bit effeminate. I found myself cringing any time he made a comment.
I thought about my attitude and felt ashamed that such little things would get in my way of friendship. It occurred to me that in the normal flow of relationships, you first notice people, have experience with them, like them, and then grow to love them. But what if I couldn’t get to the “liking” stage?
At this point, I believe the Lord Himself planted a thought in my mind. What if I prayed to “love” Jake first? Even if I didn’t like him, perhaps the Lord would help me to love him. I fully focused on this idea for weeks. Then, after we were well into the study, I became aware of a new attitude breaking through. Not only was I learning to love Jake as a brother in Christ, I was actually beginning to like him!
Could it be that there is someone in your life that you need to “love” into “like”? What breakthrough might God be ready to reveal to you? As we stay connected to the Vine, the Spirit will give the gift of love.
~ Joyce ~