In Galatians 5:22,23 we are told that the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Since it is first on the list, lets talk about love.
What is love? Where we have but one word for it, the Bible talks about three kinds of love. The Greek words are eros, phileo and agape.
- Eros describes loving someone for what they can do for us. It is sexual love or desire. Used in psychiatry for sexual drive or libido. This is very natural to our physical bodies and something that we all experience.
- Phileo or philo is having a strong preference for someone or something, as in “I love you because of who you are.” We experience this in our love for our friends.
- Agape is love that is spiritual in nature. It is the love that is revealed in Jesus Christ. Think of this as; “I love you no matter who you are or what you do.” In Luke 6, Jesus tells us to love -“agape”- our enemies. Loving only those who are loveable is not what Christians are called to do. He says to help our enemies and give without expecting anything in return.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 contains famous descriptive verses on love. You may have heard these verses used in marriage ceremonies. Among other things, it tells us that love never gives up, it cares for others more than itself, it isn’t a “me first” feeling, it doesn’t keep score, puts up with anything and always trusts God.
Agape is the word used for this Fruit of the Spirit. It may seem impossible to produce this kind of fruit but the good news is that the believer doesn’t have to. It can only be manifested by the Spirit’s power. This is the gift.
So as 1 John 3:18-19 says, stop talking about love and do something to practice it. This is how we know we are living God’s way.