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THE PRIMACY OF LOVE

The first of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 is love.  So it seems that love forms the core of the fruit.  We can say that love is the characteristic that fruit develops on.  It can be said that without love, we essentially do not have a fruit.  It is not surprising that this is the case.  When Jesus Christ was asked which is the greatest commandment in the law, He replied, ““Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””  In essence the most important commandment in the law book is love.  If it is the most important then, it should be the prime characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit.  In fact, it can be argued that this supreme law was already reduced to one by Christ as He said in John 13:34 that “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Essentially, we can only be recognized as disciples of Christ if we love one another.  Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” – John 15:8.  And the core of that fruit is love.

If indeed the most important commandment in the law is about love, then every Christian must learn to love.  It takes on even greater significance when the whole law is reduced to love.  How do we love?  We must of course love with God’s love.  God’s love is pure, God’s love is clean, God’s love is not conditional.  There is no “Quid Pro Quo” in God’s love.  God’s love is not proud, God’s love is not possessive, and God’s love is not self-seeking, etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  As Saint Augustine puts it, “Love, and then do what you want, for from that root nothing but good can spring.”  Anything that is done in love is good, because God is love and when we exhibit the love of God, there cannot be a single evil bone in us. 

In our world today, there are different ideas about love.  In fact, one can say the word ‘love’ is overused these days.  These days, people ‘love’ their cars, they ‘love’ their food, and ‘love’ their shoes, etc.  I want to let you know that love cannot be objectified.  In fact, I believe strongly that the idea of love should only be directed at living things.  There is a principle that a human being becomes what he loves. According to St. Augustine, “Let him love the earth, he will become earth; let him love the eternal God, he will share in God’s eternity”.  When we desire an object, we should love the God that created the object.  Our ultimate goal in life is to love God, but our love for God can only be evaluated through our love for our neighbor.  Anyone can claim to love God.  In fact, it is easy to proclaim love for God.  It is more difficult to show it.  “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen (1 John 4:20).  It is only in our efforts to love our brothers and sisters that we can become well aware of our shortcomings in loving God.

We must know that the best love idea comes from God. A Christian who intends to obey God’s word to Love must remain with God.  We must abide with Him and in His love.  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” Abiding or remaining in Christ requires us to fellowship with Him and His people, but this is not enough.  It is possible to fellowship with God’s people and still continue to live old ways.  Jesus Christ says, “you are my friend, if you do what I command” – John 15:14.  So, even as we fellowship with God’s people, even as we commune with God in prayer, even as we work in the House of God, we must live our lives in obedience to His command.  “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love – John 15:10.  If love is anything at all it is a matter of doing good things.  Love is exhibited through action.  It starts from the heart and ends in action.  So as we do all these things we must make sure that we practice loving God’s people.  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

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