The book of Galatians is one many believers call a favorite. Its themes of “standing fast in the liberty in which Christ has made us free” [Galatians 5:1] and “living by the faith of the Son of God” [Galatians 2: 20] and being “adopted as sons” [Galatians 4:5] are truths believers rejoice to claim.
Among the verses in Galatians Christians often commit to memory is Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance [self-control]: against such there is no law.
These are characteristics believers remind themselves they need, qualities which are pleasing to God, and attributes which make us able to help and minister to each other.
Beginning today, we will discuss each of these terms individually, continuing every Friday through the month of August.
Today: an overview of the verse and then discussion of the first and highest principle of the Christian life—love.
[These definitions have been compiled from a number of commentaries.]
1. Love–to God especially, and to one another for his sake.
2. Joy—cheerfulness in communion with friends and a constant delight in God.
3. Peace—with God and conscience. More than happiness. Deep-toned gladness untroubled by trials.
4. Long-suffering—patience to defer anger, contentedness to bear injuries. Enduring without complaining.
5. Gentleness—sweetness of temper, easy to be entreated when wronged.
6. Goodness [kindness, beneficence], which shows itself in a readiness to do good to all as we have opportunity.
7. Faith—Confidence in God.
8. Meekness—governing our passions and resentments, so as not to be easily provoked, and, when we are, to be soon pacified.
9. Temperance [self-control] in enjoyments of life, so as not to be excessive and immoderate in the use of them.
Note: Commentators without exception point out: the word “fruit” is singular.
All this rich variety of graces, of conduct and character, is thought of as one. The individual members [love, joy, peace, etc.] are not isolated graces, but all connected, springing from one root, and constituting a whole. Alexander Maclaren
The fruit of the Spirit is love.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love.” What a heavenly grace love is. It has its center in the heart, but its circumference sweeps, like omnipresence, around everything. Love is a grace of boundless scope. Charles Spurgeon
For God so loved the world… John 3: 16.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us… I John 3:1
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another. John 13: 35.
Love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13: 1.
The first…the very first…verse children learn in Sunday School when they are just able to put two words together is: “God is love.”
Does it not follow that we are never more like God than when we are loving?
Loving our family.
Loving our neighbors.
Loving those who do not love us.
Loving those who have injured us.
Loving those who are injuring themselves.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love.” That is the only power in which Christians really can do their work. One of the great causes why God cannot bless His Church is the lack of love. When the body is divided, there cannot be strength. It is only when God’s people stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in a love that the world can see-it is only then that they will have power to secure the blessing which they ask of God. Andrew Murray
Let us today resolve to love, a vigorous overcoming love that can kiss the hand that smites it.
Whether the “other person” is right or wrong, though you have been mistreated, misjudged, or misused, ignored, overlooked, or cast aside. Whether or not the person has asked forgiveness for a wrong committed against you.
Even if your differences cause you to separate, resolve to disagree without being disagreeable.
It’s a good chance to act like Jesus.
The fruit of the Spirit is love.