Have you ever wondered what a growing Christian really looks like?
What if there was some evidence to help us easily recognize genuine members of the Body of Christ?
This is what the Holy Spirit says in Galatians 5:22-25.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Immediately we see the Holy Spirit describes this nine-fold list as fruit. But He places it in sharp contrast with the “works of the flesh” (verses 19-21), and we’re informed that those who make a practice of doing such things “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
If you skimmed over that last paragraph, it’s essential that you go back and click on the link for verses 19-21 (please read them).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” I’m convinced that the primary evidence of our faith is love! The Christ-life is all about love because Jesus made it so. Jesus was asked by a Pharisee, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus didn’t hesitate to provide the primary answer. Matthew 22:35-40 reads like this from the Amplified Bible.
One of them, a lawyer [an expert in Mosaic Law], asked Jesus a question to test Him: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, All About Love, was released on his 2003 album by that same title. Its opening lyrics remind us,
“We’ve got CD sets and videos, radio and TV shows
Conferences, retreats, and seminars
We’ve got books and magazines to read on everything from A to Z
And a web to surf from anywhere we are
But I hope with all this information buzzing through our brains
That we will not let our hearts forget the most important thing”
What is the most important thing? It’s love! Jesus says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:35).
But we all know how difficult it can be to love others. There was a professor of psychology who lived alone in the neighborhood. Although he had no children of his own, whenever he saw a neighbor scolding a child, he would say, “You should love your boy, not punish him.” The professor was doing patch repair work on the concrete driveway leading to his garage one hot summer afternoon. Tired after several hours of work, he laid down his tools, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and started toward the house. From the corner of his eye, he saw his neighbor’s young boy putting his foot into the fresh cement. He rushed over, grabbed him, and was about to spank him when a neighbor leaned from a window and said, “Watch it, Professor! Don’t you remember? You must ‘love’ the child!” At this, he yelled furiously, “I do love him in the abstract but not in the concrete!”
When God tells us the first evidence of our faith is love, He means it in the concrete!
We’re taught in 1 Corinthians 13 that without this primary evidence, we’re just making noise! “Faith, hope, and love” abide. “But the greatest of these is love” (13). Without love, the rest is hypocrisy.
This is not just fashionable home décor. The Holy Spirit wants us to embrace love because God is love. Amen?! But our problem rests in the practicality of this matter. If love is best seen in how we treat one another, how do we love different people who are weirder than we are? What about the many confused and wounded individuals that act unlovable?
Take the time to review 1st John 4:7-19. Slow down and get a feel for what the Holy Spirit is saying to you.
“Love one another” is perhaps the most challenging yet most easily understood phrase in the Bible. The Holy Spirit wants us to understand the binding obligation given to all of us who claim Christ as our Savior. The primary evidence of our faith and the plain duty of all Christians is found in obedience to these words, “love one another.”
But because we have accepted God’s love and seen it in action, this is not robotic duty. Loving others is born out of our relationship with God as His Children. Imitating His divine love for others is simply an expression of holiness. God loves us, so we love others. God loves us sacrificially and unconditionally. Our love for others should reflect that.
The primary evidence of our faith is love.
Galatians 5:6 says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (NIV). Jesus called this evidence a new commandment. The Holy Spirit prioritizes and emphasizes this holy love throughout the New Testament.
At the end of John 21:15-17, we see the post-resurrection scene where Jesus restored Peter to right fellowship with Himself. He asked him one piercing and pertinent question. He asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” This question demands evidence.
Those who say they love the Lord Jesus should love others. Whether they realize it or not, everyone is hungry for God’s love. Followers of Jesus should work with our Lord to help feed others His love.
“Faith, hope, and love.” These three endure. “But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)! When we make God’s love our love, we are well on our way to living as genuine witnesses of Christ. When God’s love is our love for others, we walk in what can only be described as holy love.