Love is the first fruit of the Spirit
What is love? Everyone has his or her own take on what the short four-letter word means, and the Bible has much to say about it as well. We hear a lot about it during the month of February, and men and women, and boys and girls are shopping, creating and thinking about what to do to express their love.
1 Corinthians 13 is called “the love chapter” in Scripture, but there are so many references to love that we cannot list them all in one column. Paul wrote, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity (or love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and thought I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profited me nothing.
“Charity (or love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face. Now, I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.”
From reading this passage of Scripture, one gets the idea that God thinks very highly of love. He said that it was greater than faith or hope, and those are two very important attributes for a Christian to have in his or her life. In the Book of John, Chapter 15, and Verse 12, we find, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Another reference reminds us that “a friend loveth at all times.”
We don’t need fair-weather friends or those that love conditionally. We need friends for every season and those that can and will be loyal even when it is unpleasant or costs them something to be. I believe I would interject loyalty as one of the most important attributes of love. I don’t want friends that love me when the sun is shining or when I have money in the bank, or get that new car. I want friends who love me when I am sick and discouraged, when I am down and out, when I have made mistakes, when I am virtually unlovable. I want my friends (and thank God I have many) to stand strong in the day of trouble and trial, and I want them to help as they can with encouragement, conversation, uplifting and the Word of God.
One of the greatest compliments I have ever been paid in my life came to me from a dear friend in Georgia who has known me more than half a century. She said upon meeting Ted, my late husband, for the first time at a reunion, “Brenda, I am so happy for you. God has blessed you with a good man, and it is easy to see that you are the very center of his big heart. He adores you and is so proud of you.”
Jackie Vickery is now in heaven having died of cancer last year, but I will never forget her words to me. To be the center of one person’s heart is a great blessing that some never have. Ted loved me, and I loved him. What a gift to cherish.
Let’s look at our relationships. Do we love unconditionally or do we place certain conditions on our affection and love? Remember the first fruit of the Spirit is love.