We can appear to love another person on the outside but deep down we only really love them because they make us look good and feel better about ourselves. And that’s counterfeit love. And you know it’s a counterfeit by how you respond when they no longer make you look good to others or no longer make you feel good about yourself. But you see, then you have the opportunity to truly love them as Christ loved you!
And so, you don’t just bail on your marriage, you don’t bail on your children, you don’t bail on your parents, you don’t bail on your church, you don’t bail on your friendships. Love doesn’t just bail at the first sight of cost to oneself! Martin Luther says this in his commentary on Galatians: “Whenever you are angry with your brother for any cause, repress your violent emotions through the Spirit. Bear with his weakness and love him. He does not cease to be your neighbor or brother because he offended you. On the contrary, he now more than ever before requires your loving attention.”
You see, the fruit of the Spirit is born in the context of community, especially when things aren’t going your way. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Love overcomes evil with good. It says, now I can really love you. I can demonstrate that my love is genuine. And now I can really magnify Christ in my life because love is patient and Christ has first been patient with me. Love is kind and Christ has first been kind to me. Love does not insist on its own rights and Christ first gave up his rights for me. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing, endures all things. This is love! This is who Christ is and this is who you, dear Christian, already are in Christ through faith and this is who you are to become in Him more and more by the Spirit’s enabling power. The fruit of the Spirit is Christ-like self-sacrificial love.
(This is a portion of my sermon “The Fruit of the Spirit is Love” from this past Sunday. To listen to the rest go here.)