Subscribe via RSS Feed

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, MEV).

Part of the Fruit of the Spirit series by Jim Linzey

Love is the first and greatest of the fruit of the Spirit. It is quite unscriptural to say, “I am seeking love, the greatest gift of all.” Instead of expecting the character of I Cor. 13 to be dropped suddenly and completely into the heart as a finished gift from God, we should see that it is the fruit or result of the working out of a divine principle within us. It is perfected by a life of close communion with the Lord, and in no other way.

Love is perfected by a life of close communion with the Lord, and in no other way.

Love is not emotion nor warm feelings nor tolerance. It is a deliberate act of the will, motivated by the welfare of the recipient, for true love must have an external object. John, the apostle of love, understood the active nature of love: “My little children, let us love not in word and speech, but in action and truth” (I John 3:18, MEV). The love which the Spirit produces in us as a fruit is the fruit of Christ’s love, and of His own life. It is not something different which He can give us as a gift, but something of His own Self which springs up in us because He is living within.

Paul uses the Greek word agape to express love as the fruit of the Spirit. This agape is basic to all the other fruit. This word in the New Testament usually expresses divine love in distinction to human love. This agape is the love that expresses the heart of Jesus’ great commandment: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27, MEV). In fact, Jesus made the exercise of this love a condition for eternal life (Luke 10:28). Someone has said the fruit of the Spirit is like an orange—it is singular but has various manifestations just as the one orange has several sections. If that is an accurate comparison, the whole fruit would be love and the sections would be joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Paul defines love with exact detail in I Cor. 13—the love of God Himself. This love is not an increase of natural love. It comes only as a result of spiritual life from above. Natural or human love flourishes in an atmosphere of friendship. It loves only when it is loved in return. But divine love produces love for enemies. Christ prayed, “Father forgive them.” Stephen prayed, “Lord do not lay this sin to their charge.” If we have love, the fruit of the Spirit, we will love one another even when we are treated unkindly and misunderstood. We will pray for one another instead of finding fault. If the divine life of the living God is in our spirits, we will love. However, we have the love of God only to the extent that we have God Himself. God does not dispense the fruit of the Spirit apart from Himself. We have the love of God only to the degree that God lives His life in and through us.

Pin It
Page 1 of 212

Tags: , ,

Category: Spirit, Winter 2018

About the Author: James F. Linzey is the chief editor of the Modern English Version Bible translation. His graduate education is a degree in religious studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. His undergraduate degree from Southern California College is a BA in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in religion. He is the author of numerous articles and books. He is a speaker, recording artist, State Chaplain for the California Military Officers’ Association, and retired Army chaplain. Twitter: @JimLinzey

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter 1328 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Then, Now, and Later

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    A Keener Understanding of the Bible: The Jewish Context for the Book of Revelation

    Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., is a prison chaplain, former award-winning journalist, and independent scholar of church history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Pretoria, S...

    F.F. Bosworth and the Role He Played in the Ministry of T.L. Osborn: An Interview with Dr. LaDonna Osborn