The Fruit of the Spirit- Love

fruit-love In Rom 13:8-10 we read
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself."
Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

Paul is quite clear here on what love is. So how do we know how to love? Well let’s go to the source of love. God is Love and He sent Jesus to give us the example.
Jesus said
John 15:2 “My command is this. Love each other as I have loved you.”
How did Jesus love? What example did He set us?
Let’s look at some of His acts of love.
?         The Rich Young Man Mark 10:18
?         Peter John 21
?         The Woman at the well John 4
?         The Woman taken in adultery John 8;1-11
?         Levi Luke 5: 27-30, Matt 9: 9-13
?         Zacchaeus Luke 19
?         Feet Washing John 13
?         Simon the Pharisee Luke 7: 36-50
If we look at this list we can see that a lot of people Jesus showed His love to were undesirables.
The first one on my list is the Rich Young Man. Mark 10:18
He wanted to know how to inherit eternal life. He knew the commandments. He’d learnt them all. The problem was that he had an idol. His love for God was not first in his life. Jesus saw this in him.
BUT Jesus loved him and gave him an opportunity to change. Jesus’ love did not say, “well you know the rules, you have the head knowledge come in. He said, “Give away your idol.” This was just too much for the young man and he went away sad. The love of Jesus is a direct love, dealing with areas we need to change. It is challenging. It might make us feel uncomfortable, but it is love.
Jesus then went on to say how hard it is for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Please note He did not say it is impossible. Riches can be a stumbling block if we are not prepared to hand them over to God.
However, Jesus went on to say, “With God, all things are possible.”
God can change our lives and our attitudes towards money.
I wonder if we have idols Jesus needs to remind us of?
The Woman at the Well John 4
How did Jesus show His love to her?
He talked to her.
He challenged her. Here we see that word again - Challenge.
She went to the well when she knew others would not be there. She felt a nobody.
Others would have passed her by, but not Jesus. How would I react in that situation? Would I refuse to ask for a drink? Cut off my nose to spite my face
Jesus saw her potential.
It’s easy to cast people off and say they’re no good. I won’t help them. They’re not in my social strata. Let others deal with them. That is not the way of Jesus. Jesus saw how He could help her and as a result many of the people in the town believed. If Jesus had decided she was not good enough to help think how many would not have believed.
Jesus’ way of helping her was to ask for help, but in the end He gave her far more than she‘d probably expected.
Jesus loved the unlovely.
The woman taken in adultery John 8:1-11
A crime punishable by stoning.
God set these laws.
Yet Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Gradually we see the crowd disappear.
Jesus showed his forgiveness. He did not condemn but he did not condone.
“Go and sin no more. “
We should not condemn but guide others in the right way. Lead by example.
Zacchaeus Luke 19:1-10
Again we see someone who is marginalised.
He’s wealthy but hated.
What does Jesus say?
I’m coming to your house today. Jesus picked him out from all the crowd.
The people’s response. “He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
This did not deter Jesus.
He came to seek and save the lost.
He acknowledged who Zacchaeus was and did something for him. In return Zacchaeus changed his ways.
Levi Luke 5: 27-30, Matt 9: 9-13
A Tax Collector
The officials - Pharisees - wanted to know why Jesus was demeaning Himself an associating with tax collectors and sinners. The tax collectors were not always the most scrupulous. They would charge extra and pocket some for themselves. They were hated. They were the dregs of society in the eyes of the Pharisees. They were beneath them. Were they beneath Jesus? No. They were the ones He came to reach.
Rob Purnell used to pray that God would bring us the lost, the marginalised and those without hope. One member of the Church would say, “But we need some normal ones as well” Do e? Haven’t all of us fitted into one of these categories at some point in time? We have all been lost.
Romans 3: 23 “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.
Jesus said “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Are we righteous -NO
Do we need to repent -YES
We need to keep short accounts.
In this passage Jesus reached out to the unlovely.
Getting the picture.
Get your hands messy. Reach out to those it is hard to reach, whose lives don’t match yours. At the end of the day we are going to be in heaven with all sorts of people we could never imagine would be here.
A Dying thief
A man who had Christians murdered because he thought he was doing what was right.
An adulterer and murderer
A liar
There may be others from today that we don’t know about.
How would you feel if you met the Yorkshire Ripper in heaven, or Fred and Rosemary West, or Saddam Hussein.
Remember God’s Love for these is as great as His love for you and me.
Who is God telling you to love?
Where should you be reaching out?
No one was too low for Jesus to reach.
The amazing thing was that we see transformation in these people.
That’s the reaching out, but what about here in the body of the church?
How is your love here?
Are there some you don’t get on with?
Are there past hurts you need to forgive?
Hear what the Bible says about loving your brother.
1 John 3:11-24
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
1 John 4:7-21 Note v 191 John 4:7-21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
These are strong words but we need to take note of them.
Look at what Jesus said about love.
Matt 5: 43-48
Love your enemies. Give to the needy.
At the home of Simon the Pharisee Luke 17:36
 Here we see the woman anointing Jesus. The disdain at who she is.
Jesus says, “Simon I have something to tell you.”
You can imagine how Simon felt. What’s he going to tell me?
This must be great. I’m sure what Jesus told him would have been a shock. Jesus didn’t hold back. He told him how it was. “You didn’t attend to my needs” Then he forgave her sins. Jesus was prepared to gently rebuke when necessary. He did not say “That’s fine” He said it as it was. Remember “The Lord disciplines those He loves” Prov 3:12
Jesus’ teaching on the Prodigal Luke15
Let’s look at the love of the father.
He let his son go.
He gave him the freedom to choose.
It must have hurt.
He watched for his return.
He must have looked every day.
He rejoiced at his return.
This I important for us to remember when we have prodigals returning. There were no recriminations.
Jesus and Peter John 21:15
Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Reminiscent of the 3 denials.
Jesus could have said, “That’s it Peter. You’ve proved you can’t be trusted. You’re not fit to be my disciple. You’ve even turned back to your old job. You’re not fit to be in the Kingdom.
But No!
He says “Peter do you love me more than these?”
“Feed my lambs. My sheep, my flock.
I have a job for you. I am putting my trust in you.
How many times when people let us down do we say, “That’s it. Never again.”
Jesus said to Peter, “I have a job for you. I know you blew it but I am giving you a second chance. God does that to us today. Why can’t we do it?
Is there someone we need to forgive and give another chance to?
That’s love in action.
Feet Washing John 13:1-17
Note v1 “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.”
He was prepared to take on this role of a servant to show them the full extent of his love.
We see Peter’s reaction. “Lord I can’t let you do this thing.” Jesus’ response was, “You have to.” He didn’t say “OK Peter. I understand you find it hard to receive. I won’t make you go through it. “ I wonder sometimes if we do this in our giving to others. It did something in Peter to receive this and it does something in us to learn to receive. Jesus wanted to bless His disciples, but He couldn’t if they would not receive it.
My friend Pat decided to take me away on holiday once. She lived in a community and resources were low. I knew that I could afford to pay for that holiday more than she could. I had to learn to receive and let her pay for everything. We had a wonderful time and both of us were blessed. 
Phil 4:5 “Let your gentleness (Christ like consideration for others)be evident to all.
TLB Let everyone see that you are unselfish.
Word for Today
In Campus Life a young nurse tells of a patient called Eileen. A cerebral aneurysm had let her with no conscious control over her body. The doctors thought she was totally unconscious, unable to feel pain, unaware of anything going on around her. It was the hospital staff’s job to turn her every hour to prevent bedsores, and to feed her twice a day through a stomach tube. “When it’s this bad” an older nurse told her, “You have to detach yourself emotionally.” As a result Eileen came to be treated as a thing, a vegetable. But the young nurse decided to treat her differently. She talked to Eileen, sang to her, and even brought her little gifts. One Thanksgiving Day she said to Eileen, “It was supposed to be my day off, but I couldn’t miss seeing you on Thanksgiving.” Just then the telephone rang. As the nurse went to answer it she looked quickly back to the patient. “Eileen was looking at me….crying. Big damp circles stained her pillow.” That was the only human emotion Eileen ever showed. But it was enough to change the attitude of the entire hospital staff towards her. Not long after Eileen died. The young nurse closes her story by saying “I keep thinking about her…I owe her an awful lot. Except for Eileen I might never have known what it’s like to give myself to someone who can’t give back.”
Love, God’s love means giving to those who have little or nothing to give back. It challenges the innate selfishness in each of us and goes against the grain. But it’s love in its highest form.
Remember Jesus’ example of giving Himself on the cross
This was total sacrifice. This young nurse gave of herself.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23
Note Luke says it needs to be a daily thing.
Sometimes you might not feel like it but it is still important.
How much do we give of ourselves to those in need in the church?
Do we know who is in need and in what way?
We need to be giving ourselves sacrificially.
2Tim 3:1-5
People will be lovers of themselves rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. “
Beware where you direct your love.
Remember if we follow the way of Jesus and the example He showed there is no way we can be accused of the above.
Phil 2:3 Consider others better than yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you look on yourself as yourself as worthless but you should look on the interests of others as being important.
Yes, in everything we have looked at today we have an example. The greatest example we could ever have. JESUS He is the one who shows us how to live and love.
Let us follow in His steps.
1Peter 2:21 “ To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps “
Jesus showed us how to love and told us to love. It was a commandment. We have no choice. We must love one another.
Paul says in 1Cor 13:2 TLB
“If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about…the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others what good would it do?”
In 1 Thess 3:12 we read
John 15:2 "My command is this. Love each other as I have loved you."
1 Thess 3:12
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. Paul saw the love of the Thessalonians and also saw their potential.
I would like us all to stand together and make this our prayer today.
Lord make our love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone. May this not be our prayer just for today but for every day.
If you want your love to increase and you want someone to pray for you then do not hesitate to ask me or someone else to pray with you.
Love is
Giving an opportunity for change Mark 10:18
Accepting the unacceptable John 4, John 8:1-11, Luke 19:1-10,
                                         Matt 9:9-13, Luke 5:27-32,
Speaking honestly Luke 7:36-50
Being able to let go Luke 15:11-32
Serving John 13:1-17
Forgiving John21:15-19
Total sacrifice Luke 9:23
The Fruit of the Spirit -Love
Jesus challenged the rich young man. He saw that his love for money stopped him making God his first love. Is there anything that stops you from making God your first love?
Who is God telling you to love? What are you going to do about it?
One of the greatest attributes of real love is forgiveness. Do you need to forgive? Do you realise what the outcome is if you don’t?
When Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me” he was upset. If Jesus asked you the same question how would you prove to Him that you o?
Identify areas in your life where you know you should demonstrate greater love? What are you going to do about it?
Is love actually a sign of weakness or can it be robust?


Christine Foster, 13/02/2008