The Fruit of the Spirit: Love is the Evidence of God
In the Upper Room, Jesus broke bread with his disciples and shocked them all by kneeling down, pouring water into a basin, and washing their feet. After this stunning display of servitude and love, he issued them a “new command.”
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
Love is how we reflect Christ and prove to the world our allegiance to him.
So, it’s no surprise that the very first fruit of the Spirit is love. Love is a common thread throughout Paul’s letter to churches in the first century (Gal. 5:6, 13-14; Eph. 4:16; 1 Cor. 13). Love sums up Jesus’s Great Commandment:
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matt. 22:37-39).
The apostle John talks about love at length in 1 John, and he teaches us three incredible truths about God:
– God is love (1 John 4:8)
– God is the source of love (1 John 4:7)
– God proved his love by sending Jesus (1 John 4:10)
Because of God’s love for us, love should overflow from our lives and impact the people around us. It’s love that compelled Deitrich Bonhoeffer to sacrifice his life to rescue Jews from Nazi oppression. It’s love that compelled Christian students from different tribes in Rwanda to protect each other and die hand-in-hand during the genocide of 1994. And love compels missionaries all over the world to enter dangerous countries and spread the gospel.
This fruit of the Spirit kind of love makes followers of Jesus stand out because we represent a God who is love.
But what if the opposite is true? What happens when we find excuses to resist loving people the way Jesus did or simply cannot find a way to love the people we disagree with — even brothers and sisters in Christ? It’s hard to see God in believers who refuse to love.
If you’re struggling to love someone, remember who the source of love is and how he proved his love for you. We ought to know what real love looks like, John writes, because we know that Jesus — the ultimate example of love — sacrificed his life because he loves us. When we practice this kind of Christian love — a love that perseveres at all costs, breaks down walls, offers mercy and grace, and sacrifices will and life — we’re the evidential proof of God himself (1 John 4:12).