By Pastor Joe Balaan
SCRIPTURE: Galations 5:22 ”But the fruit of the spirit if love,…”
To understand scripture, you need to read several verses prior to it to really understand its context. You cannot come to a conclusion with just a single verse. The Bible always has context clues so that you will understand why certain verses were said or written in the way they were written, except for a few verses, called free text, which are contexts without the same.
Galatians 5:13-26 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
If you read these verses, you will know why the apostle Paul mentioned the fruit of the spirit that is love. The study of one verse will depend on its previous ones. The goal of this study is to ask why a lot of people call themselves Christians and yet, you cannot see the fruit of the spirit that is love in them. In this regard, let us study two things: love and fruit.
What is love? It is not simply a feeling that you can understand. It is complex. It does not only involve your emotions. It encompasses all aspects of a person, the physical and spiritual sides too. You can make love felt by the tap of a hand, by sitting beside someone while watching the sunset, or by making them a cup of coffee. Love is difficult to comprehend. In Greek, there are four words used for love. Eros, romantic love, storge, an empathy bond, phileo, friendly love and the unconditional love is called agape. The latter, according to Kenneth West, impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the object loved… it speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in the object of love, an apprehension of its preciousness. Phileo love is an impassioned love, a friendly love. It is a love that is called out of one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object, Agape love is love that asks for nothing. Phileo is love that is your reaction to the love given to you. When Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him, Peter had a difficult time answering Him. Jesus asked Peter if he “agapes” Him. Peter answered, “Lord, I ‘phileo’ you.” The love Peter offered Jesus is the lower kind. Agape love is the highest characteristic of God, the one attribute in which all others harmoniously blend, according to Unger’s. Agape love can go with anything and anyone, and it makes it stronger. Eros cannot cross over to storge love. 1 John 4: 8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This verse says God is love. It did not say God has love. God’s person and nature is pure love. He is the personification of love itself. If God is punishing you, it may hurt. But that is love.
In order for love to be manifested, it needs an object, and that is no one else but all of us. God made man so that He can show him His love. John 3: 16 says so. For God so loved the world. It is not love if you are alone. God’s eyes are on all of us, and He wants to make His love felt all the time. God is the most important part for you to understand real love. Many are frustrated in having relationships because they cannot understand the true sense of love, which is God Himself. Without God, there can be no real love. But if you have a relationship with God, you will understand what true love really is.
The fruit of the spirit is love,… why is it not plural as in fruits? The fruit of the Spirit is but one, even if they are many. You receive them one for all and all for one. If you have love, you have everything. We are not saved by works, but our works are a testament that we are saved. That is why the Bible. Says, “well done, my good and faithful servant.” It did not say, “well said.” God expects all Christians to bear fruit. Being a disciple always entails bearing fruit. But what is that fruit? How can the character of God bear fruit in a sinful man and become his character too?
During these times, many people say they are Christians but when you look at their life, it is very far from what a Christian should really be and live like. That is because the Spirit of God does not live in the person. You will only bear fruit when God is in you. It is difficult and cannot be forced. Acts 2:38 says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells in you. And little by little, He will change you. Ephesians 1:13 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” This is the mark of a Christian. It is not your title or your religion, but only the Holy Spirit that dictates whether you are a Christian or not.