By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)
Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”
“Love” is a word we use so commonly, I love ice cream, I love that movie, I love this team or that team, I love you!… Then with almost the same flippant ease I say: “I love YOU Lord.” Is that really as easy to say as we make it? Love is so essential that the Holy Spirit in defining the gifts that HE gives to us made it the very first one! LOVE! In the English vernacular, we have cheapened the word “love”, but thankfully God’s Word was originally written in Greek and in the Greek New Testament there are several major and different words for “love”.
‘Storge’ = “natural affection, a feeling towards family or pets etc.”
‘Philos’ = “strong intimate, but non-romantic love of friendship”
‘Eros’ = from the name of the Greek ‘god of love’ – “romantic love.”
‘Agape’ = “the strongest and most noble of loves. Unconditional, love that will do anything for another, regardless of cost. This is GOD’s love.”
So, which is the love of Galatians 5:22 that is a “fruit of the Spirit” love? I’m sure you have guessed it is the last, ‘Agape’. It’s the same word in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…” and in Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us…” Think about that, to love like God loves and to love like Jesus loves, comes from God the Holy Spirit as a gift! Have you ever felt like you couldn’t love God enough? Like there was something missing? The love that we can muster within ourselves, in our own strength is always tainted by the self-curl of the flesh. To be able to truly love unconditionally is genuinely a miracle act of God; it must come from and through Him — it is NOT a feeling, it is an action!
Show love even when you don’t feel it; live love even in the presence of the unlovely. ‘Agape’ is also the love of Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies…” It then stands to reason that the love we are to have for each other is ‘agape’, and the love we are to have for our neighbors is ‘agape’. When we try to love in our own strength it is always lacking. Remember, true ‘agape’ is a gift from the Holy Spirit; walk in Him, live by Him and LOVE through Him!