Is it really just a four-letter word?
Based on popular opinion, he was a great catch. Great looking, wealthy, from a rich heritage, and he certainly had a way with words. “I love you, I want to be with you.” We’d been dating a few weeks. He was a bit too quick to pronounce his devotion. It sounded good, but I knew the words were just that, words. I’d seen the signs – thankfully that was years ago.
Words should mean things. Many are quick to offer their opinion on a variety of topics. Not that that is a bad thing, but it can get relentlessly confusing. “Do this, try that, go there and don’t go there.”
If you are like me, you just want to do God’s will for your life. Not everyone else’s will. Just His will – nothing more, nothing less and nothing else. “Please Lord, help me to keep it that simple in 2017.” Yet that worthy goal is made complicated every day! There are so many voices speaking into what we should or shouldn’t do. People we love, jobs we have, things that have happened that we didn’t anticipate all greatly influence what we do. Perhaps a simpler approach could help.
You know a man by his fruit. Not what is said, but by what is done. Matthew 7:16 says, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
“Fruit of the Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life. According to Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV), these attributes are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. We learn from Scripture that these are not individual “fruits” from which we pick and choose. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit is one nine-fold “fruit” that characterizes all who truly walk in the Holy Spirit. Collectively, these are the fruits that all Christians should be producing in their new lives with Jesus Christ.
In 2017, our monthly themes will be fruits of the Spirit. Featuring love this month, each subsequent edition will take a closer look at what we are called to be producing within our lives. With that focused approach, we should be positioned to prioritize decisions in such a way that we set out to produce fruits of the Spirit and bring glory to our Father.
It’s true – February is all about love. Dinners, chocolates, jewelry, roses, and other gifts on Valentine’s Day will be presented carefully to say, “I love you” to those we care most about. Yet God’s love is year round. It’s a noun and a verb. It’s feeling and a fact. It’s a daily calling for every follower of Christ.
We are to love one another as Christ loves us. He didn’t wait until we had it all together to open his arms and receive us into his forever family. He didn’t wait until we quit living in sin to forgive us. He didn’t say, “When you are more like me then I will love you more.” His love is and was and will always be complete. It’s available for all to receive, and our job is to share it.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 sums it up perfectly. Let’s not play games. This is eternity. Love is more than just a four-letter word.