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					                                The Fruit of the Spirit Is …
                                           LOVE
One of the prophetic voices of the 20th century Church was a man named Francis
Schaeffer. Back in 1970, Schaeffer wrote a short book entitled The Mark of the
Christian. Schaeffer begins his book by noting that over the centuries, people have used
many different symbols to show that they are Christians … things like crosses and fish
symbols … but then Schaeffer turns to the universal mark of a Christian that Jesus gave
to show the world that we belong to Him.

        And what is that universal mark of a Christian? [Love]

                The night before He went to the cross, Jesus said …JOHN 13:34-35

                The one thing that Jesus intended to be the identifying mark of a Christian
                is love.

As you read the passage in Galatians 5 that we looked at last week, you see that love was
also the number one priority for the apostle Paul.

        When we read this last week, you may have noticed that what Paul said here
        about walking by the Spirit and overcoming the flesh … all of that is set in the
        context of loving each other.

        For example, look at verse 13-15 again:

                GALATIANS 5:13-15

                        This is what sets up Paul’s discussion of walking by the Spirit and
                        overcoming the flesh. The context is keeping relational harmony –
                        or love.

                        And then after talking about walking by the Spirit in verses 16-24,
                        Paul comes back to the theme of love or harmony:

                                GALATIANS 5:25-26

So, since the context of Paul’s discussion here is love, it’s no surprise that love is the first
character quality that Paul mentions in his list of the fruit of the Spirit.

Now, as we begin our study this morning, I want to start by reminding you why the Holy
Spirit wants to produce love in us.

        Look at the list again in Galatians 5:22-23: GALATIANS 5:22-23


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So, these are the character qualities that the Holy Spirit will produce in us when we walk
by the Spirit like we talked about last week.

       Now, why these character qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
       goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control? [because God is this way]

Look at what Paul wrote in Romans 8:29:

       “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son …”

               Part of the mission of the Holy Spirit is to produce people who look like
               Jesus in our character. So the reason the Holy Spirit wants to produce
               love in us is because that’s the way Jesus is… and the same for the rest of
               the character qualities mentioned here in Galatians 5:22-23.

Now, since the Holy Spirit’s goal is to make us more like God, at the outset of our study
each week of this series, I want to start by looking at God before we consider how we can
partner with the Holy Spirit to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

So, here’s what I want to do this morning. I would like you to read aloud some of what
the Bible says about God’s love. One by one, a number of you read what the Bible says
about God being a loving God or read something that describes a characteristic of
God’s love. Let’s paint a picture of God’s love.

       John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 8:35-39; 1 John 3:1; 4:9-10; Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22-23; etc.

Let’s take a minute and worship God for His incomparable love. [Pray together]

       Now, because God loves in the way we just described, the Spirit of God wants to
       make us people who love like God loves. So this morning I want to look at how
       we can partner with the Holy Spirit to grow in love.


LOVE IN ACTION

The first step to growing in love is understanding what love is from God’s perspective.
Many of the verses you just read remind us of the majesty of God’s love for us. Let’s
look at some of what the Bible says about love in human action.

We use the word love in a lot of different ways. For example, you can love ice cream,
and love your dog, and love your wife … and hopefully, the word love means something
different in each of those cases. We have a wide range of meaning for the word love, so
it’s important that we understand what the apostle Paul meant by the word love.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 13.

                                                  2
1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-8a          (end at “Love never fails.”)

Now, just like we saw in Galatians 5, Paul begins by stressing the priority of love. Then
in verses 4 through 8, Paul describes what love looks like in action.

       We can divide what Paul says about love into two lists. The first list is what love
       is or does, and the second list is what love is not or does not do.

           LOVE IS / DOES                             LOVE IS NOT / DOES NOT
                 Patient                                         Envy
                  Kind                                           Boast
          Rejoices with the truth                                Proud
             Bears all things                                    Rude
           Believes all things                               Self-seeking
             Hopes all things                               Easily angered
            Endures all things                          Keep a record of wrongs
               Never fails                                  Delight in evil

Now, what do these things have to do with love? [they are the actions of love]

       Years ago my kids had a song on one of their CDs entitled, “love is a verb.” (DC
       Talk) Now, that’s a biblical idea: love is a verb.

               “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …”

               “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners,
               Christ died for us.

               “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and
               in truth.”

From God’s perspective, love is more than a feeling. It’s action. Love is a verb.

       So, these are some of the actions of love. These are the things that you do or
       don’t do if you love somebody.

So, if we are going to grow in love, then we need to grow in the actions in the first
column:

       … being patient, kind, bearing with people’s faults and failings, believing in
       people, hoping for the best for people, and hanging in there with them over the
       long haul.




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Then, the other list is the actions that we need to avoid:

       … jealousy, pride, self-centeredness, impatience with people, holding grudges,
       and taking pleasure in other people’s failings.

So, when we talk about the fruit of the Spirit being love, we’re talking about the Holy
Spirit producing in us the things in the left-hand column and eliminating the things in the
right-hand column.

       Now, how does that happen?

PARTNERING WITH THE SPIRIT TO GROW IN LOVE

Well, if you remember what we studied last week, I pointed out that walking by the Spirit
involves a partnership between us and the Holy Spirit.

       In Galatians 5:16, Paul wrote “… walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out
       the desire of the flesh”.

               So, we walk, but we do so by the Holy Spirit.

                       Now, that means that we have the responsibility to say yes to the
                       things in the left-hand list and say no to the things in the right-hand
                       list, but we can’t do that without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Remember, when we talked about this last week, I told you that the Holy Spirit does not
normally operate automatically on our behalf. Instead, He waits for us to depend on Him.

So, any time we have an opportunity to do something in the left-hand list or not to do
something in the right-hand list, there is likely to be an interaction between us and the
Holy Spirit … and often that interaction goes something like this:

          First, the Holy Spirit communicates … the Spirit tells us what we should do or
           should not do. So the Holy Spirit gives us some direction.

          Then secondly, we decide to do what the Spirit says. But to follow through
           with that decision, we need the Holy Spirit’s help. Whenever we follow the
           Spirit’s lead, there is something that we need to trust the Spirit to do for us.
           (This is often where prayer comes in.)

          But then after we take that first step, the Holy Spirit gives us the power,
           wisdom, endurance, courage, or whatever other grace we need to follow the
           path He has set for us.



                                              4
That’s what we talked about last week. Now, let’s look at some examples of what that
looks like with love.

1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love is patient; love bears all things; love endures all things.”

       So, if we are going to love someone, we need to be patient with that person and
       we need to endure the things that we don’t like about that person, but when we
       decide to follow the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will help us.

For example, years ago I read a comment by the wife of a well-known Christian leader,
and she said that when she was first married, it didn’t take long before she realized that
her husband had some flaws. So, she decided to help her husband overcome some of
those flaws. And she even began to pray for her husband, but what she prayed was,
“Lord, You love him and I’ll change him.”

       By the way, that’s the way that we often respond to people – especially those who
       are close to us like our spouse or kids. Whenever we spend a lot of time around
       people, we see their faults and failings, and often we think it’s our responsibility
       to change them.

This woman went on to share that after praying that prayer for awhile – “Lord, You love
him, and I’ll change him.” – after praying that for awhile, one day she sensed the Spirit of
God saying to her, “No, you love him and I’ll change him.”

       Now, that reminded her, and it reminds us, that ultimately, it’s God’s job to
       change people. … But have you ever noticed that God’s timetable for changing
       people is usually a whole lot slower than our timetable? For some reason, God
       never seems as concerned as I am about the changes that I think God needs to
       make in other people. Now, since that’s the case, I usually need to wait while
       God changes people, and in the meantime, I need to be patient and bear with
       people’s faults while God’s work is in progress.

Over the years the Lord has spoken to me about this often with my kids. I remember one
particular time years ago when one of my kids had a habit that really annoyed me. It was
just one of those childish things that kids do, but it really bothered me. So, I tried to
correct this annoying habit whenever I saw it, but I wasn’t getting much in the way of
results, and finally it bothered me so much that I put it on my prayer list.

And I prayed … “Lord, please help so and so to stop doing such and such.” … And I
prayed that whenever I prayed for that child.

       Then one day, while I was praying that, I sensed the Spirit of God saying to me,
       “Ray, who’s the adult here? Don’t you have more to bring to the equation than
       your six year old child.”


                                              5
I got the message, and I picked up my pen and scratched out that prayer request and I
wrote a new one, “Lord, please change me so that I can be patient while You change so
and so.”

Now, I told you last week that whenever we follow the Spirit, there is always something
that we have to trust God for. What did I have to trust God for in this case?

      First, I had to trust God that He would help me have a different emotional reaction
       whenever my child did the thing that annoyed me.

      I also had to trust God with my reputation, because sometimes that annoying habit
       got displayed when other people were around, and I got embarrassed when that
       happened. So I just needed to trust God with that.

      Finally, I had to trust God that He would actually change my child without my
       nagging.

But … when I made the choice to follow the path that the Holy Sprit laid before me, God
took care of all of those things that I entrusted to Him. Over time, God gave me the
ability to be patient with my child while the change was underway.

       Now, that’s a simple example of walking by the Spirit and the Spirit helping me
       grow in love.

Here’s one more example.

       1 Corinthians also says that love is not self-seeking. Love doesn’t seek it’s own.

Back in the spring, I read a story to the men in our Saturday morning marriage
discussion to illustrate this point. The author wrote …

       "Romance was never my strong suit. I proposed to Lynne in her parent's garage; I
       took my Harley-Davidson on our honeymoon; I thought our best anniversary was
       the one we spent watching a video of Rocky III. But several years into our
       marriage, I realized that being a godly husband meant more than bringing home a
       paycheck ... I had to grow in the gentle art of romance."

       "So for starters, I figured that meant flowers....As a confirmation from God that I
       was moving in the right direction, who do you think set up shop out of the trunk
       of his '58 Desoto at the corner opposite my office? The flower man!"

       "So, quite regularly, on my way home from work ... I would pull over to the side
       of the road, buy a bundle of roses or carnations from the flower man, and take
       them home to Lynne. 'What a husband!' I thought as I handed over my three
       bucks. 'Hundreds of men drive right by this intersection past the flower man, but

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       do they buy flowers for their wives? No. But do I? Certainly.' I remember
       looking at all those other insensitive men and thinking, 'How do they do it? How
       do they pass up an opportunity like this?'"

       "Yet when I proudly presented these flowers to Lynne, fully expecting her to hire
       the Marine Corp Band to play "Hail to the Chief," her response was rather
       lukewarm."

After a period of time, the author finally figured out that the flowers weren't doing the
job, so he had a talk with his wife. He said,

       "We have a problem. I can't figure it out. Hundreds of husbands pass by that
       corner. Do they stop for flowers? No! Do I stop? Yes! Do you play "Hail to the
       Chief" when I get home? No! What gives?"

       "She looked me straight in the eyes and quietly said, 'The truth is, honey, I'm not
       too impressed when you give me half-dead flowers that came out of the trunk of a
       '58 Desoto that you were lucky enough to run into on your way home from work.
       The flowers are cheap and the effort is minimal. . . You're not thinking about what
       would make me happy; you're just doing what's convenient for you.'"

He responded,

       "Okay, let's get this straight. You would be happier if I got up from my desk in
       the middle of my busy day, threw my schedule to the wind, walked all the way
       across the parking lot, got in my car, and made a special trip to town where I'd
       have to pay quadruple the price ... And you wouldn't mind if I came home late
       because of all the extra running around I'd have to do to get you expensive
       flowers? Is that what your telling me? That would make you happy?"

The author continues,

       "I was proud of myself. I missed my calling. I should have been a lawyer. The
       jury would have been spellbound. They would have been thoroughly convinced."

       "Without batting an eyelash, Lynne said, 'Yes, that would make me happy.'"

Then he responded,

       I can't believe it! ... What you're asking for is neither practical, economical, nor an
       efficient use of time."

She responded,

       "That's a great definition of romance … You're learning."

                                              7
Here’s the line from that story that stands out to me. She said … “You’re not thinking
about what would make me happy; you’re just doing what's convenient for you.”

That reminds me that love is not convenient. 1 Corinthians 13 says love is not self-
seeking. Love doesn’t seek it’s own.

Whether we are talking about showing love to our spouse or someone else, love is doing
what serves the other person, not what is convenient for me.

       So, that means that love will always cost me something. Love will cost me time,
       attention, energy, money, pride, control … love always costs something.

       And that’s what we have to trust God for. Whenever we give, the simple math is
       that we will have less of something. Giving always means less for me … less
       time, attention, energy, money, pride, control. So we give, trusting that God will
       take care of whatever it is that we lack because we gave.

       But like I mentioned earlier … when we make the choice to follow the path that
       the Holy Sprit lays before us, … when we do that, God will take care of all of the
       things that we entrust to Him.

CONCLUSION

As we close, look at the two lists again.

             LOVE IS / DOES                                LOVE IS NOT / DOES NOT
                   Patient                                            Envy
                    Kind                                              Boast
            Rejoices with the truth                                   Proud
               Bears all things                                       Rude
             Believes all things                                  Self-seeking
               Hopes all things                                  Easily angered
              Endures all things                             Keep a record of wrongs
                 Never fails                                     Delight in evil

[Read the left column.] That’s the path that the Holy Spirit wants to lead us down.

[Read the right column.] Those are the deeds of the flesh that the Spirit wants to help us
put to death.

Whenever we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, and we rely on His help to do the things in
the left column and with His help we refrain from doing the things in the right column …
whenever we do that, the Holy Spirit produces love in us.

       If the fruit of the Spirit is love, then these are the seeds that bear the fruit.

       I want to pray and ask the Spirit of God to grow love in us this week.
                                             8

				
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