by Ian Harrison
Love (Part 2)
(Editorial note - see the comment in the editorial of this issue)
Let's investigate God's love in the form of his spiritual fruits at work in us. Galations 5:22-23. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control. Against such things there is no law. This means that the law was given to teach us that we need help and that's why it was imperative that Christ came to fulfil the law and the prophets. The prophets are proof of God's promises to humanity that the Messiah would be the sin offering for us all. He came from God, was God in human form. On returning as the second person of the Godhead back to the first person of the Godhead he left us his spirit who is the third person of the Godhead. His job is to guide all who believe in God's promised messiah by living within them. We will gain insights into his character and gain a better understanding of his purpose for us. So let's work through the processes of how these fruits enable us to accomplish tasks that would otherwise be impossible in our own strength.
Now from God's perspective his love is unconditional. He loves us whether we come to him or not, even in spite of ourselves. His love is unconditionally there, it exists whether we accept it or not. God says "My son has already died so my love for you is unconditional." Jesus died for all who existed, and who ever will exist. John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.
Our love for God on the other hand is conditional because it is based on him relating to us on our terms. The only way he could do that was to live amongst us. John 1:14. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. So he experienced the same kind of contexts we do each day so therefore he can empathise with everything we have gone through and will ever go through. We come to him in need of help because there is a void within us that can only be filled with him.
So we have been called to build each other up and that is where our focus needs to stay. God created the church to stand out in society to reflect what he intended for us right back in the garden of Eden. There we were in harmony with him. Co-operation, connection and community were the hallmarks in that context. Our purpose is to influence through the attitude of service. This is accomplished by doing the good works that God has set aside for us on a moment by moment basis. Ephesians 2:10. Created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. There the fruits of his character can be evident by how we achieve each task.
The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. This is love & all its attributes. Kindness, patience and faithfulness are elements that drive peace. Goodness gives us a spiritual overview. Its the outcome of the other elements which reflects the mind of Christ. Fruits of spirit are the results of surrendering to the mind of Christ. Matthew 16:24. If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. So if you want to judge, blame or gossip about someone, you deny yourself the desire to indulge in such attitudes which flow from the desires of your nature. Instead you give the Holy Spirit permission to guide your mind and what will come out of your mouth will be the attitudes of his character. Then you become less of a slave to your sinful nature with its cravings. That does not mean to give up thinking for yourself but to give him permission to guide your thoughts. Self control, kindness, patience, faith, and belief are parts of love, joy and peace. To possess love, joy and peace are the results of goodness and righteousness. Goodness gives us a spiritual overview. It is the outcome of the other elements which reflects the mind of Christ.
In the ancient Greek which is an exact language there are four different types of love. Firstly there is philos which is associated with brotherly affection. Secondly there is eros which is not found in the new testament. This is erotically, physically or sexually orientated. Exodus 20:14. You shall not commit adultery. Thirdly there is agape which is the type of love that depends on the character of the lover not the quality of the one being loved. A conscious deliberate choice to do good for another is based on agape love. Jesus on speaking to some church leaders said to them "freely, freely, you have received so freely give", which requires faith. Finally there is chesed which is lasting and never changes, it lasts forever. Psalm 136. Its sacrificial in that you deny yourself to live it. Romans 8:28. It gives, reconciles, heals and is a mutual love between the three persons of the Godhead and all who follow him. So God shares his love with us. To deny yourself means to die to behaving the way your nature would want. It is hard work fulfilling its cravings because it will never be satisfied. So consider instead the picture of clothing yourself with the mind of Christ and allowing the fruits of his character to flow through your life.
The privilege we share as Christians is we can draw on the power of the mind of Christ to guide our minds whenever we need it. In our daily contexts we are in situations where our ability to be patient and kind end quickly. There are two pathways we can choose from. We can rely on our own strength and go from an attitude of response to reaction. The other alternative is when we can no longer be patient and kind in a situation then we can draw on the Holy Spirit's power to get us through. In this way we can stay in a responsive attitude. This enables our minds to learn and grow with the Spirit.
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