The Fruit of Love
(Understanding God’s Love Series)
By: Elizabeth L. Creecy
Enkrateia [self-control] is that great quality which comes to a man when Christ is in his heart, that quality which makes him able to live and to walk in the world, and yet to keep his garments unspotted from the world.
Last week, we talked about what love is. Now, I want to talk to you about what happens to you when you love the way God wants us to love.
Godly love brings light, life, and longevity. Why? Well, love is God (1 John 4:8), and therefore real love has God as the motive! When you become a born-again believer and make God’s love your “why,” something magical begins to unfold inside you. The best part of it all is that the transformation results from you being in a relationship with God. How does this happen? Through the teaching, guidance, and comforter of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27; John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit begins to bless and transform your life with something extraordinary. It is this Spirit who begins to produce the fruit of God’s love inside of you, and when God’s perfect fruit shows up in your life, your life gets better! What is this fruit, you ask?
It’s the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Personally, I appreciate how the Amplified version translates this scripture:
But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Have you ever stopped and focused on the word fruit in Paul’s writing of the fruit of the Spirit? He could have used other words like “works of the Spirit” or “the Spirit’s gifts,” but he chose the fruit of the Spirit. It makes sense, too, primarily when you focus on the word “fruit.” Paul was conveying the meaning of a full harvest of virtues by using the word “fruit.” Additionally, the fruit of the Spirit is singular, meaning each believer is to have ALL nine.
Fruit is a byproduct of planting and nurturing a seed. Remember, God’s fruit is perfect, flawless, and satisfying.
The Spirit produces the fruit, but it’s your job to get in touch with the Holy Spirit. It takes time for fruit to grow, so please be patient with yourself and do not ignore this opportunity to produce a great harvest inside of you. It will take your effort, focus, and attention. Christian character is the result of Christ living in you (Galatians 2:20), but you are given free will, so please use that will to nurture that Spirit to grow deeper in Christ.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the result of God’s presence inside of you! It’s a result of His company, plus your participation in the relationship. Your willingness to have this relationship with God is how the Holy Spirit reshapes your character to be more like Christ. This produces some fantastic fruit inside of you!
That is a powerful statement! You must choose and give God permission to come and dwell inside of you (John 14:23). Still, you must also nurture, protect, and participate in your relationship with Him so His presence will stay and grow. Perhaps that is why Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (4:23).
As disciples of Christ, we want the fruit of the Spirit to always flow from our hearts.
Take a second and envision your body as a Bed and Breakfast for guests to stay in—a very nice, sophisticated, mature, but homey inn. If you do not acknowledge your guests’ presence and tend to his/her needs, they will leave, and most people won’t give you a second chance after the fact. If everyone leaves, you are out of a job!
Thankfully, God is extremely merciful and forgiving, so He is the best kind of guest, but He is a gentleman. He will not stay where He is not welcome because of His love for you, not for His love for Himself. You must take time to tend and care for your guests. Now God is the best kind of guest you could ever have. Why? Because He gives more than He receives. You could say He is the ideal guest.
He asks this of you: To love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37), to love others as He (Jesus) has loved you (John 13:34), and to spend time with Him (James 4:8). When you do this and seek first His Kingdom in all things (Matthew 6:33), He will help you renew your mind (Romans 12:2) and remold your character, which will transform you into time with your permission and effort, a better you that is more like Christ.
I promise you will like this version of you so much better. When you begin to see the fruit grow, you will be even more encouraged by this new freedom. You will start to walk out of bondage – into freedom.
Here you have an invitation from a guest who wants to stay with you and help you do ALL of the heavy lifting.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
What is the benefit of having the fruit of the Spirit?
First, let me describe what it is like when we do not have the fruit or Spirit or are not eating it:
- Sexual immorality, Impurity (Galatians 5:19)
- Lust (Colossians 3:5)
- Hatred, Jealousy, Discord, Anger, Selfish Ambition, Dissension, Idolatry, Witchcraft (Galatians 5:20)
- Arrogance (2 Corinthians 12:20)
- Envy, Drunkenness, Wild Living (Galatians 5:21)
- Murder, Lying (Revelations 22:12-16)
- Cheating (1 Corinthians 6:8)
- Adultery, Greed, Stealing (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
I don’t know about you, but when I lived outside of God’s fruit and experienced the above, my life was miserable. I wanted to believe it was not, and I thought if I just did more and depended more on myself, I’d be happier, but that was a lie. What I was yearning for only God could give me. His freedom and ways restore me and give me life (Job 10:12).
You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my Spirit (Job 10:12)
Doesn’t the above list honor the words Jesus spoke in John 10:10?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I am so grateful that God sent His Son to teach us how to live. When you abide in Him, you start to reap the benefits. When you live God’s way, and for God, the following becomes your normal:
- Patience (Longsuffering)
- Kindness (Gentleness)
- Faithfulness (Faith)
- Gentleness (Meekness)
- Self-control (Self-discipline, sound mind, temperance)
Living for God is what will satisfy your hunger and, by default, give you more joy, love, and everything you may have tried to find by walking the world’s way of life. This transformation that Paul talks about in Galatians just happens by nurturing your relationship with Christ.
One day you will all of a sudden not be irritated by something that once annoyed you. You will start to be made perfect by accepting God’s perfect love. Things will fall off of you, which in turn will help you like yourself more. As you like yourself and see yourself as God sees you, it is easier to love others.
Next week, I will break down the fruit of the Spirit. Until then, ask the Holy Spirit which fruit are you struggling with? Once the Spirit reveals which area you are weak in, ask the Spirit to help you grow. Ask the Spirit what you need to start doing to grow this harvest inside of you.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for thinking ahead and providing Your children with this amazing fruit. I see I don’t always operate in this fruit, but I want to. Please help me to grow and feed this fruit and not the fruit of the devil. Holy Spirit help me to see when I am failing to operate in the spirit. Thank You, Father, for everything You are doing in my life. I only want to live Your way, help me to do as You would have me do in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.