The Fruit of the Spirit Series (Part 1): The Fruit of the Spirit is Love
I wonder if anyone out there can really say they have all the love they can handle. Can anyone say they have had their fill of love. It’s my guess that just the opposite is true, hardly any of us has had quite enough. The funny thing about love is that there are actually 7 different kinds (Burton, 2016). The kind we are going to explore today is “agape love.” First, we’ll look at what agape love is and where it comes from and then we’ll talk about how important it is in our daily life.
Galatians 5:22-23: New International Version (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.
What is Agape Love?
Naim (2016) describes agape love as love of the soul, and something very close to unconditional love. It is known for being selfless and giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Burton (2016) goes on to refer to it as charitable and altruistic.
Altruism has to do with the unselfish concern for others. Interestingly, altruism has many benefits. Short-term benefits for the giver include an extremely positive feeling, often called the “helper’s high.” Long-term benefits for the giver include living longer and overall better physical and emotional health.
For the receiver of agape love, initially the need for feeling loved may be met. But beyond that, the receiver may have a desire to “Pay It Forward!” I don’t know about you, but I think we could all benefit from a little more agape love going around!
What Does Agape Look Like?
The Holy Scriptures provide quite a few examples of what agape love looks like. One of the most famous one is from 1 Corinthians. Whether it’s new to you or if f you’ve heard it before, take a moment to focus on what is really look like.
1 Corinthians 13: 4- 7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- Does not envy
- Does not boast
- Is not proud
- Does not dishonor
- Not self-seeking
- Not easily angered
- No record of wrongs
- Does not delight in evil
- Rejoices with the truth
- Always protects
- Always trusts
- Always hopes
- Always perseveres
Where Does Agape Come From?
Loving like 1 Corinthians spells it out seems quite overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easy to be patient and maintain hope. Other times though, we might be tempted to give somebody a piece of our mind and slap him or her upside the head. This is not exactly the picture of 1 Corinthians.
Notice the title of this series is “Fruit of the Spirit.” That means that agape love and the other 8 types of fruit that we will discuss in the weeks ahead comes from the Holy Spirit. You can’t squeeze out extra agape love on your own. Rather, it comes out naturally when you are filled with the Holy Spirit!
Bill Bright, from Campus Crusade for Christ, provides an excellent description of the Spirit-filled life. If you’re interested in knowing more about it, be sure to click and read more.
The Agape Bank Account
I first heard about love banks in regard to marriage. It is a concept that discusses needing enough deposits to be ready for a withdrawal. In terms of marriage, Spouse A needs to put regular deposits into Spouse B’s account. Then when Spouse A needs to make a withdrawal, there is plenty there for Spouse B to tap into.
However, this concept applies to many things besides marriage. Our children need deposits into their banks. Our co-workers need deposits too. Don’t forget about family member, neighbors, friends, we need to show them love too.
What Happens When the Bank is Empty or Running Low?
Just like when your checking account runs low or runs out, you’re going to run into a great deal of problems if your love banks is empty. I’m not trying to over simply things, but do you think crime rates would drop if there were more love instead of hate. What if, like 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, we were not easily angered, did not boast or envy, and always protected others? Differences of opinions would still exist. But love would allow us to express them in better ways.
Not too long ago, I had a disagreement with someone about a hot topic here in the United States. It was obvious that nothing either one of us could say was going to change the other person’s mind. Out of respect, we each gave the other person the opportunity to share a perspective. Then we politely agreed to disagree. I don’t think any less of this person because we disagreed. In fact, I applaud this person’s ability to share a heartfelt ideology and to allow me to share mine as well. Whether we knew it at the time or not, we engaged in a mutual agape sharing moment even in the midst of our differing opinions.
- Do you regularly receive enough agape love to keep your bank full?
- Are you regularly sharing your full bank with others?
- Do you need more Holy Spirit filling so you can produce more fruit?
Burton, Neel (2016). Hide and Seek. Psychology Today. The 7 Types of Love.
Naim, Rania (2016). Thought Catalog. The 7 Kinds of Love and How they Can Help You Define Yours (According to the Ancient Greeks).
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