The fruit of the Spirit

Documentation Published on Monday, 11 April 2022

The fruit of the Spirit is love: Nine spirit-filled characteristics demonstrated by Jesus

The fruit of the Spirit is love: Nine spirit-filled characteristics demonstrated by Jesus

Paul often compared things to one another to show how we should overcome the world, its vices (Galatians 5:19-21), and its broad road that leads to damnation. He encourages us to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18) and then proceeds to explain what this involves. This is surely one of the most memorable pieces of Scripture, and it is a practical guideline for us as believers:

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23


Over the following weeks we will look at each of these aspects to show what the fruit of the Spirit is, how God demonstrated this for us, and how we should live it out. The first example of the fruit of the Spirit is love. Paul already mentions love in Galatians 5:13-14 as a precursor to the lesson he teaches a few verses later.

When we think of love, the first idea that comes to us is the romantic love of a man and woman towards one another, and there is nothing wrong with this. This is because it also happens to be used as a symbol of the love Jesus as the bridegroom has for the church, the bride. However, God already showed us the true meaning of love a long time ago:

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16

Here it is an active verb, loved. It is in the past tense and shows a completed action. This is because He made one plan for man that is available for all of us from the time He loved us, right to the very last day you are alive on the Earth. Of course, you have a choice to accept or reject this love. God’s love for us was shown at the beginning of time when He planned man’s course in life. This has been accomplished through His Son Jesus, so that through Him we would have eternal life. This is the perfect example of love, and Jesus Himself confirmed and demonstrated this as the Father’s plan for us on many occasions and levels:

13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.John 15:13

This shows the deep-seated love God has for us, that a man would die in the place of his friends. Jesus became the perfect example of this by dying for us, even when we were still unbelievers. Paul refers to this in Romans:

8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

He repeats it in his letter to the Ephesians:

1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. – Ephesians 5:1-2

If we are followers of God, then we will automatically follow (walk) the path of love He has shown for us. This is the example He has set, and which we are to follow. Paul is very careful to use the right example – as Christ also loved us and gave Himself as a sacrifice to God in our place. If you think you are not sure if you are still following God, look for examples of love ahead of you. He leaves examples of love on our path every day. If we do not see them anymore, it is not because He has stopped leaving these examples of love, but because we have strayed off the path which He has chosen for us. If this seems to be the case with you, stop. Consider your own actions right now. Are you showing love to those that are behind you on the path of love? Maybe you have taken a wrong path and you are not seeing His love leading you anymore. Confess the sin, get back on the path of love so that those that follow you do not also go astray!

John illustrates how our lives should radiate love, and then goes one step further:

7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8

God is love. He is the embodiment of what love is. It is His desire that we should show the same characteristic. In fact, the other eight of the fruits of the Spirit hinge on love. Without love, none of them can be realised in a person’s life. When asked by a religious leader what the greatest commandment in the law was, Jesus told him this:

37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Matthew 22:37-39

First, your love should be directed to God. You should be fully devoted to Him. Then, this same love should be directed to whoever is closest to you at any given time. The love you have for God must be the same as that which you have for your fellow human being. This means that the love you have for Him will reach others, and through this love they could get to know Him.

The important thing about love is that it is unconditional. God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). He did not wait for us to show His love, based on our actions. He showed love first, despite who we were and what we did. We should therefor do the same to others. It often seems difficult to love when you do not get love in return, but that is how we were. As sinners, we hated God and His love. Yet this did not stop Him from displaying His immense love publicly – that Jesus had to die for us while we were still sinners.


In this coming week, instead of waiting for someone to love us first, why do not rather make the first move? Do not just say to someone that you love them. Show them that you love them by your actions, irrespective of how they react. You will now be ready for the next fruit in the series – joy.

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