The Fruits of the Spirit: Love and Joy
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3
God’s love must be our model for our personal life, our church life and our relationships. It must flow into us from Christ and, in return, flow out from us to those around us. Why? Because God’s love is the ultimate power for the Christian. We are to be fueled by love in all situations.
Love is taking the initiative to build up and meet the needs of others without expecting anything in return. Love is not about emotions; rather, it is all about real Christian love—the love that turns our backs to self-concerns and faces our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to God’s.
If love does not take us beyond our self-interests, we have lust, not love! As the passage of 1 Corinthians 13 says, we become just a noise that has no reason or purpose. Out of true love,God gave us His Son, and the Son gave His life in replacement for ours. The Son sent the Spirit to save us, and we should be literally overwhelmed with love because of what God has done for us.
The opposite of love is hate, lust, and disgust
The contrast to lust is real Christian love–sacrificial, unselfish, determined love. Love confirms the realness of Jesus and the mark of the authentic follower! This is also a pattern for Christian relationships and church management, and emphasizes the importance and value of friendships. This is the vital substance that flows from God to and through us as His servants and His Church to be His guiding lights of Hope and love to a broken and lonely world.
Love might seem to happen in a magical and metaphysical way; songwriters and poets have tried to explain it throughout every era. Love is a choice we make, a decision we undertake that must be pursued. If we do not work on love, the spark that was once there will vanish as quickly and as suddenly as it came. God’s love authorizes Christianity; Christianity exhibits God’s love. Love and obedience go together; neither can be separated from the other.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11
Joy comes from the Holy Spirit. It is important to put it here with love, as it is associated with receiving or the telling of God’s redemptive love story for us. It also is associated with the enjoyment of life such as eating, drinking, or relationships.
Joy recognizes that Christ will lift us up, it sees the hope to come and takes delight even in harsh times. God’s joy (and the joyous knowledge of His love) must carry us through all of our experiences.
In James 1, we are called to Count it joy–this refers to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling. Joy realizes the sovereignty of God and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out! Joy comes from our obedience in Christ that is not oppressive or unfair; rather, it is our delight. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and cares for us! Christ will meet us in our deepest need, and we are complete in Him.
The opposite of joy is distress, sorrow and discontent.
Distress, despair and discontent can take us over, if we are not careful to guard our joy. These cut us off from relationships, learning, new experiences and, most importantly, a loving, joyful, true view of God. Our lives have hope and purpose in Him, but without joy, we can miss the gifts that He has for us.
Joy is indispensable for sharing love. Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything, and to share His love with others.
Are these Fruits of the Spirit – Love and Joy – in you?
1.How do I exhibit love and joy in my daily life?
2.What can I do to develop a more loving and joyous attitude?
3.What blocks love and joy from being expressed in me?
4.How can I ask God for the strength to love as He does?
5.How can I depend on God to give me His joy?
Check out an earlier post on this topic here