2009-09-23 - Spirit's Work
Galatians 5:24, Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
I have in mind here only two devotionals on the first two fruits of the Spirit: love today, and in part 2, joy. However, I am open to responses, and if there are enough who would like me to complete the set and write on all nine I am open to doing that, but you will have to tell me. I am doing this partly because I am preaching currently on John 15. The idea is that of our being of the root, Christ, and being the branches that are to bear fruit. That fruit is summed up well in Galatians 5:22, 23 where Paul gives us nine fruits of the Spirit. It is a window into what the Christian life looks like. There are warnings and promises given by our Lord in the John 15:1-17 passage. It would be good for us to take them to heart and be fruitful unto the Lord.
Today I would like to look at love. Love in many respects is the summary of all the fruits of the Spirit. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:13. It is the summary given by our Lord of the second table of the Law (commandments 5-10 of the Ten Commandments), that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, Matthew 19:19, and Paul uses it in Romans 13:9, and again saying in Galatians 5:14, For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. We see the same in Leviticus 19:18. There are actually several other places where we find this admonition to love our neighbor.
Here is a quick summary of what I think these passages are saying. They do not ask if we talk about love. They are not asking if we feel love. These passages are admonishing us to DO love. They are asking the penetrating question, Does love rule your heart? If you are a follower of Christ, it must.
Do you love your neighbor as yourself? What does this mean? I will give a couple of ideas here and be done. To love others as ourselves is to treat them as we would like to be treated. This can take many forms. Would we like it if someone cooked us a meal when we are not feeling well? Would we like it if someone offered to babysit for free, so we could simply go for a walk with our spouse? Would we like it if someone showed us simple kindnesses like getting the door, noticing a new hair cut, or greeting us with a smile? It is all of life. How do we love our neighbor? We love them by treating them as we would like to be treated. But let us get bare-bones here what does it look like? I will sum it up this way: We put ourselves first almost all the time, and to love our neighbor means that we put them first for a moment, maybe longer.
I also think we love our neighbor as Christ has loved us. This actually goes beyond the commandment, but I would maintain that we are to follow the example of Christ which is deeper. Christ has loved His children sacrificially. He loved them when it cost Him when it cost Him His life even. Our love to others ought to pinch us a little. We ought to feel the inconvenience from time to time. We might feel a financial pinch by loving our neighbor. We do for them. It is not free to us to cook a decent meal for a family with the flu.
Lastly, what about our love to their immortal souls? Our neighbors are all created in Gods image. They are image bearers. They have worth and dignity by definition. If we love them we cannot sit still, being saved ourselves, and seeing our neighbors people we have contact with in this life damned to a Christless eternity. If we love them we will have compassion for their lost souls. If we love them we will pray that the Spirit will open their blind eyes to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. If we love them we will not be content to watch them go through life in the misery that this passing world gives, while headed to a misery that is far greater. If we love them we will seek their best. This by far, is the best kind of fruit of the Spirit, to know the love of Christ, and be filled with all the fullness of God, Ephesians 3:19.
Soli Deo Gloria,