“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” ~Gal. 5:22
In the New Testament, there are two words used for love: agape and phileo. Agape love is a charitable love. It is the word used for love in this passage and so I’ll do my best to explain a little bit about it. Most people today use the word love in a completely different way than it is used in Scripture. Take, for example, 1 Cor. 13. Now, would you say that that chapter’s definition of love is the same as the definition you would find in a modern day dictionary? No. Unlike modern “love”, Biblical love is pure, selfless, and courageous. In John 3:16 we have perhaps the greatest example in Scripture of agape love: that God so loved the world, that He sent His Son to die in ridicule and shame on a tree He had created. The world did not want Him; it did not desire Him. And yet, God so loved us that He chose to ignore our shouts of defiance and show us mercy by giving us what we needed, not what we asked for. For every heart that has not been raised to new life utterly rejects our Savior. Now I know that is a quick run through of such an important fruit, but I want to give you a few case scenarios. (For some reason, I love using case scenarios :).
When I was a boy, I wasn’t always very kind when I didn’t get my way. Sometimes I would just be rebuked; other times I would be spanked. Now to me, wooden spoons meant two different things. When one was held by the handle, it meant it was a stirring utensil. When it was held from the other side, it was an instrument of pain. Obviously, I never liked getting spanked, yet my parents, because they loved me, knew that it was better for me to have to endure pain than for me to get my way. Love in this case is kind.
A while back, I watched a short movie about a family who was trying to escape from their home during WWII because Germans were quickly approaching. As they fled, they reached a flowing river. Though it was only about 20 feet wide, it was fairly swift and was about 4 feet deep in the middle. But that was not all. It was the middle of winter and the water was icy cold. In the family there were two small children who, if they tried to cross on their own, would either be swept away or would drown. The father, stopping only to take off his jacket, picked up the first child and waded across, at times with water up to his chest. Once across, he waded back, picked up the next child and crossed again. Then he went across one final time, picked up his wife and carried her across. At the end, he had crossed the icy river 6 times without a jacket and when he got out, with wet clothes he began leading his family through the snow to freedom. That father’s love was not only courageous, but it was selfless.
There will be many times in your life where your path will be blocked by a river. It might be a river that your friends and family face with you. When you reach that river, you will be faced with a question: will you sacrifice yourself so that they may cross over dry? Will you give your time and energy to serve others, knowing that the more you help, the less they have to do? When you are confronted by others, will you protect your friend’s reputation, even if you are ridiculed and scorned? Ultimately, will you show the same kind of love your Savior showed for you?
Your brother in Christ,