“But The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love”                                                    May 14, 2006

Matthew 5:43-48    Luke 10:25-37    1 John 3:16-18

 

SI:  Four years ago, summer of 2002 preached series on fruit of the Spirit.

As we have been getting closer to the end of Galatians—chapter 5, fruit of Spirit—

   I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to cover these again.

 

Reason I decided to do so is that studying the fruit of the Spirit

   is an excellent way to see whether or not you really understand

   the difference between living by grace or living by law.

 

That’s been the whole point of Galatians.

   Is a person justified by the works of the law or by faith in Christ alone?

We’ve seen Paul’s powerful defense of justification by faith.

   His strong biblical, theological attacks on legalism.

 

But legalism can come in many forms—even in churches and among Christians

   who say they aren’t legalists and guard against it doctrinally.

 

One of the ways you can test yourself—see if living by grace or by law—

   is to take the fruit of the Spirit, see if they are evident in your life.

Because fruit of the Spirit grow in people and churches who know God’s grace.

 

What I want to do for this series is get away from Galatians.

   Look at some key Bible passages that speak of these particular fruit.

Starting with love—greatest of all fruit. 

   So many passages to chose from, going to look at three.

   Read two already—now, 1 John 3:16-18


INTRO:  One of the most famous love poems in English

   Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet

   “How Do I Love Thee?”

 

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach . . . .

 

And she goes on from there to talk about how she loves

   freely, purely, with passion, and so on.

 

How do you love people?

I love you.  But if you ever cross me, disappoint me, let me down, hurt me—

   I cut you off so fast it will make your head spin.

 

I love you because you make me feel good.

   Keep those good feelings coming, because that’s what keeps me loving you.

 

I love you.  But don’t demand too much of me. 

   My time is precious to me.  I can’t give you too much of my time.

   I’ll do what you need but don’t ask me

   to get too involved in your struggles and emotions.

 

I love you.  And I don’t want to offend you. 

   Even when I see you doing things that I know are wrong—

   that’s none of my business, so I’ll leave you alone.

 

There are lots of forms of love that are fundamentally legalistic.

   They are ultimately based on the person’s performance.

They do not flow from an encounter with the Gospel.

   Which is the free grace of God flowing to you through Jesus Christ. 

   So there is nothing supernatural about these forms of love.

As Jesus puts it—even the pagans love those who love them. 

 

As we study each of the fruit of the Spirit will find that there are legalistic forms—

   might even call them counterfeits of each fruit.

There is something that appears to be patience, kindness, self-control—

   then there is the real thing motivated by the Gospel.

 

So as Christian, as a church, want to examine ourselves for the real thing.

   When we find it—it will be in there if you are a real Christian—

   want to cultivate it and nourish it so that it grows into something beautiful.

 

What does the fruit of the Spirit which is love look like? 

   Lot’s of places could look.  Chosen three passages.

Give three ways of assessing love in life to see if fruit of Spirit.

   Put them in the form of three command.

 

1.  You must love other people as your Father in heaven loves.

2.  You must love other people as you love yourself.

3.  You must love other people as Jesus Christ loved.


MP#1  You must love other people as your Father in heaven loves.

How does God the Father love?

   Matthew 5:45  “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the

   righteous and the unrighteous.”

Jesus uses this to call His disciples to love their enemies—going to address that

   but before we do, let’s park here for a minute and look at this teaching.

   What does this tell us about the love of God?

 

God’s love is not governed by the way people are or the way they respond to Him.

It’s not just the Christian farmer who believes in Jesus, humble, hates sin,

   striving to love and serve God with all of his heart whose crops God waters.

God even waters the crops of the proud farmer who never prayed a day in his life,

   who believes that everything he has is because of his hard work.

Doesn’t just cause His sun to shine on Christians, but on evil, reprobate people.

   God’s love not governed by what people are or what they do.

 

So what governs God’s love?  God’s love.  God’s love governs His love.

His love doesn’t depend on anything in us.  He loves in spite of us.

   Israel—set affections on you, not because great nation, weren’t, because loved.

“God is love.”  Love flows from His being.

   His love not dependent in any way on the loveliness of the person.

   His love is the expression of the eternal love between Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

 

If all of this sounds abstract:  God is love.  Love flows from His being.

   Count on Jesus Christ to bring it right back down to earth, into your experience.

   Do you know what this means for you, Christian?  Love your enemies.

If you love people who love you—so what?  Even pagans do that.

 

People without the Gospel, without grace of Christ in life

   can respond in love to lovely people. 

Can love people if think going to get something out of it—self-righteousness.

   This is just legalism.  What performance, what return is demanded.

 

But only a person who knows the grace of God can love his enemies.

   Because you have not only experienced this kind of love—

   it has changed you and made you into a new person.

Because you are a child of your Father in heaven.  Like Father like son.

   When you are born again love become a part of your being.

   The love God has planted in you doesn’t depend on what people are or what do.

Quickly address a few misconceptions of what Jesus is teaching.

1.  Not saying—Be nice to mean people, and they will be nice to you.

   They might never be nice to you.  These are your enemies.

   Love not conditioned on the hope that they will change toward you.

 

2.  Not saying—Look for a little spark of goodness and love that.

   All people are created in the image of God.

   Be realistic about sin—in some people there is no spark of goodness.

   If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness.

   Love not dependant on finding some little spark of goodness.  Love of Father.

 

Look at Jesus’ actual words—so practical.  Want to know what Father’s love like?

   1.  Pray for those who persecute you.

(Two more statements—in KJV, NIV in footnotes, later manuscript—consistent).

   2.  Bless those who curse you.

   3.  Do good to those who hate you.

Paul, quoting Proverbs—“If enemy hungry, feed him.  If thirsty, give him a drink.”

 

Who are your enemies?  That’s kind of dramatic.  Some have enemies who hate.

 Enemies of your time?  Enemies of your emotions?  Who are unlovely people?

   Not going to ask if you like them.  Do you love them as your Father loves?

   Pray for them?  Bless them?  Do good to them?

 

How do you cultivate this love?  By gazing at God’s grace.

By spending time with the Father.  Child around dad admires, like him.

Contemplating His marvelous goodness and love to you, a sinner.

   Reading Psalms

   “Boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, delightful inheritance.”

 

   “Praise the Lord O my soul, forget not all benefits, who forgives all sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, crowns with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.”

 

Like Father like son.  He has implanted his nature in you.

   The more you are around Him, the more you will be like Him,

   fruit of love will grow—and you will love your enemies,

   in practical deeds of prayer, blessing, good works.


MP#2  You must love other people as you love yourself.

How do you love yourself?  If this is a standard for judging your love, must know.

   Notice that this command assumes you love yourself.

   “Love your neighbor as you do in fact already love yourself.”

 

Sometimes over psychologized. 

   Before you love your neighbor as yourself, have to know how to love yourself.

   So do something special for yourself.  Put time aside for things you want to do.

Build self-esteem.  Love yourself and then you will be able to love others.

 

But nothing of the sort.

Command starts with the assumption that you already love yourself.

   That love you already, naturally have for self, to be standard of love for others. 

Love is the disposition of the heart to seek good for a person.

   All people love themselves.  All seek good for themselves.

 

This is the way God made us because what is greatest good can seek for yourself?

   God himself.  Knowing him.

Made us to seek greatest good for ourselves because he is the greatest good.

   Augustine:  “You have made us for yourself.  Hearts are restless till rest in you.”

   But sin spoiled self love.  Makes self-love intensely selfish.

 

Because of sin, people still seek good for themselves—but instead of God—

   it’s what they think is the greatest good. 

As one great theologian pointed out, even people who commit suicide

   do so ultimately because motivated by self love.

   This will be good for me.  This will end my pain.  My humiliation.

   “No man ever hated his own body.”

 

When you become a Christian, you don’t stop loving yourself.

   In fact, becoming Christian is the ultimate act of self love.

There is nothing better, nothing that will bring higher joy, submitting to Christ.

   Receiving the grace of God. 

 

So this marvelous thing happens when you are born again.

   Your self love is transformed.

   Instead of being something that is selfish, uses people, takes from them,

   it expands to seek the good of other people.

For Christian, self love becomes a standard for measuring your love for others.

This is an impossible command.  Honest, can never love like this

   Could you really seek good of other people with same intensity seek your own?

But what is so exhilarating is that this is a command—power to love like this.

   Self love has been thoroughly transformed by the Holy Spirit.

   I can love like this because I have been born again.

 

Follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit in dealings with people.

   Not looking for a spark of light—something good in them.

This is a person who needs the grace of God just as much as you.

   When Spirit brings that to your mind, don’t push away—cultivate.  Act on it.

When you see a person that is low and broken—don’t relegate to trash heap.

   that is who I am without the grace of God. 

 

Want to shift gears and apply this to a specific area that bothers some Christians.

   It’s the whole matter of liking people, being fond of people.

Sometimes a Christian concerned because there is a person in his life doesn’t like.

   Different reasons, but can’t walk away from this person, in life, relative, church!

Christian starts to struggle, worry.  Want to be obedient to command to love.

   Don’t like this person, don’t feel warm fondness toward him.  Must not love.

   Take command, “Love neighbor as yourself” apply to this worried Christian.

 

Do you always like yourself?  If do, shallow person.  Never examined self.

   Everyone who knows God’s grace able to look at self.

Capable of any serious self-reflection there will be things don’t like.

   If a growing Christian, things you positively hate about yourself.

Hate lust, cowardice, pride all sorts of other things.

 

But you still love yourself don’t you.  Still seek your own good every day.

Now this person in your life—how are you treating him?

   Are you concerned about his spiritual condition?  Praying to know Christ?

   Are you concerned about his physical condition?  Doing what can make better?

   When around, how do you act toward him?  Kind?  Gentle?  Patient?

Are you treating him as you would wish to be treated if in same place?  condition?

 

If the answer is no—distant, indifferent, fearful, harsh.  Don’t love him.  Repent.

If you answer yes—Praise God—that is the fruit of love.  Cultivate it.

   As the fruit of love grows, sometimes you will even find self growing fond.

   Christians sometimes find themselves liking the most unlikable people

   simply because committed to loving words and deeds. 

MP#3  You must love other people as Jesus Christ loved.

How did Jesus Christ love?

“This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

   A man and his action.  Love and acts of love are inseparable.

 

Love is a disposition of the heart to seek good for another person.

   And that disposition of the heart will find expression in concrete ways.

   If it doesn’t, it’s not love.

You may say you love a person, say you are a loving Christian, fruit of Spirit,

   but if those are just words—not action and truth—doubtful.

 

Don’t misunderstand—possible to have deeds without love.  1 Cor. 13

   “Give all I have to feed the poor, have not love, nothing.”

   Disposition of the heart may not be to seek the good of the other person.

May be other motives that are selfish and not loving.

   But, impossible to have love without deeds.

 

How did Jesus love?  Look at his love, summed up—laid down his life for us.

   Sacrificial.  Involved a giving up of something precious.

   A life of humiliation that ended on the cross.

Right away John prevents us from saying—ok, I would be willing to die for person.

   Truck about to run over them, charging bull will jump in the way.

   Afraid it’s not that easy.  Look at John’s example. 

   You see brother who needs some of your money.  Hard earned money.

   Have no pity, don’t give it to him—Christ’s love is not in you.

 

Love is meeting the needs of others at your own expense.

   You have to give yourself.  You have to give what is most precious.

You have to give in such a way that sometimes you will meet the needs

   and concerns of other people before or instead of your own.

 

God in His providence brings needy people into your life.

   And they all need different things.

   But sometimes, the very thing that you alone can give.

   And the fruit of love is when you open your life to person and give it.

 

If you grasp this, understand why the Bible teaches that

   the opposite of love is not hate, its fear.

Have already seen you can hate things about yourself and still love yourself.

Same is true of other people.  More you love a person, stronger hate bad things.

   God loves us and He hates our sins.

   So the opposite of love is not hate, both can exist together.

 

The opposite of love is fear.  Fear keeps you from lovingly giving self to a person.

   I’m afraid I won’t have enough money to do what I want.

   I’m afraid this will take too much of my time.

   I’m afraid I’ll this will be unpleasant.

   I’m afraid this person will take advantage of me.

   I’m afraid that if I show this person love, keep coming back.

 

Many ministers, self included, have a fear they won’t be liked.

   Keeps them from loving the flock.

   If I lovingly tell this person what he need to hear, not going to like me.

If I say this in a sermon, I’m afraid lots of them aren’t going to like me.

   So you don’t speak the truth in love—called and paid to do.

 

What about you?  Where has Christ called you to give yourself lovingly?

1.  Some of you children need to give parents cheerful obedience.

2.  Some of you older brothers need to give your younger brothers a hug.

3.  Some of you students need to give kind words to the friendless, losers school.

4.  Some of you employees need to give honest day’s work to employers.

5.  Some of you wives need to give your bodies to husbands.

6.  Some of you husbands need to give words, conversations to wives. 

7.  Some of you parents need to give time for spiritual instruction to children.

8.  Some of you need to give away more of your money.

9.  Some of you need to give time to lonely person.

10.  Some of you need to give Gospel to lost person in life. 

 

Are these things frightening?  Yes.  Are there risks involved?  Yes. 

   You might be misunderstood, taken advantage of, or ridiculed.

   You might have to give up your plans, your schedule, your options, your space.

Just as your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did when He came and gave and gave

   His heart, his words, his deeds, his possessions, his body, his life—for you.

 

Love.  Be bold.  Bible says, “Perfect love drives out fear.”

   You have that love.  Poured into heart by Holy Spirit.  Cultivate it.

You have received the grace of God in Christ. 

 

CONC:  Fruit is to be picked and eaten.

 

If you have the fruit of love, flows from your experience of grace—

   it will benefit other people.

 

As you give yourself to them in sacrificial ways, they will eat that fruit.

   And there will be different responses.

 

Sometimes they appreciate it deeply, sometimes they don’t.

   Sometimes they know what it costs you, sometimes they don’t.

   Sometimes they give glory to God see Christ in you, sometimes they don’t.

 

But it is not ultimately for other people you grow the fruit of love.

   It is the Lord himself who ultimately picks the fruit of love in your life—

   and it always pleases Him.  And He knows what it costs you.

 

He planted the seed.  He brings the growth.

   He knows your struggles as you seek to cultivate that love.