Developing the Spirit's Fruit of Love - Galatians

Steve Viars December 25, 1990 Galatians 5:22

- tonight we're going to begin looking at various components
  of the fruit of the Spirit
- I realize we have some of the young people who would
  normally be in clubs with us tonight, so let's review some
  of the things we've talked about in the last couple of
  weeks

- we're talking about Gal. 5:22 (READ)
- we've said that that when God wanted to talk about the
  character qualities that he wanted to build in us, he used
  the used the word "fruit" to communicate some important
  lessons to us
- INPUT - what were some of those lessons?

    - fruit is delightful
    - fruit must be watered
    - branches of a fruit tree must be pruned (cut back)
    - fruit has seeds and can grow more fruit
    - fruit takes time to mature
    - fruit can't be manufactured artificially

- we also said the word fruit is singular
- - God is talking about one fruit
- INPUT - why did God say it that way?

- that’s what God wants you to be like

- - he wants you be a loving person, a joyful person, a peaceable person,
           a patient person
    - that’s the fruit God wants to develop in you

- we asked ourselves the question, “when others think of you,
  do they think of the spirit's fruit?”
     - when your parent, teacher, boss, spouse, sister,
       brother, classmate, neighbor...
     - thinks of you - would they think of the words in verse
       22
- another way we said it was
- - how would those around us fill in the blank?
     - being around so and so is like taking a bit out of a _______
     - being around so and so is like taking a bite out of a
       big peach
-  so sweet and juicy
- I just can't get enough of that person
- or would those around you say
- - being like so and so is like taking a bite out of a big rock
- - cold, hard, and distasteful

- tonight, we want to begin looking at each individual component or part of the fruit of the Spirit
- tonight we're just going to look at the first one, other
  nights we may take more than one at a time

- we're talking about developing the Spirit's fruit of love

let's begin with:

I. Definition of Love

    A. World's Ideas?

        INPUT?

        - love is something you fall into
        - love is a feeling
        - love is having sex
        - love is being a macho man
        - love is never having to say I'm sorry

        - if we're not careful, some of these ideas can creep
          into our understanding of love, and whether or not
          we believe we are developing this particular fruit
          of the spirit

    B. From the word meanings

        there are four major words in Greek that are translated love in English

        1. stergo - affection, especially for family members

            this one is only used in the Bible in a few
            places, like II Tim. 3:3 - without natural affection

        2. phileo - fondness, love for people who are
            connected in some way, either by blood or by faith

            - of course the word Philadelphia is based on
              this word, and means the city of brotherly love

        3. eros - sensual love

            - this word was used widely in the Greek
              language, but it never occurs in the Bible

        4. agape - sacrificial love

            - always a personal choice to sacrifice, a self-
              giving service, directed at meeting the need of
              someone else, even when a prior relationship
              had not been established

        - now I want to be sure that I've said that there is
          clear overlap in these words, but the last one is
          the one that really emphasizes love even for
          individuals who don't deserve it, or for those who
          we don't have a relationship with

        - a good example of the way this word is used is Rom.
          5:8 - INPUT - Quote?  (but God commended...)

        - I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that when
          God wanted to talk about the fruit He wants to
          develope in us, he used the word "agape"

    - that meaning also rings true when we look at:

    C. From the word usage


    - John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that He gave

    - Eph. 5:25 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved
                  the church, and gave Himself for it

    - Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer
           live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I
           now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son
           of God who loved me and gave himself for me

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

    - I John 3:16 - By this perceive we the love of God,
           because He laid down his life for us, and we ought
           to lay down our lives for the brethren

    - Rom. 5:6-8

    - point is, that when God talks about love--even in the
         words He chooses and the way in which those words
         are used - He talking about something much different
         than the way our world talks about this word.

         - When God talks about it, He's talking about a
           choice that you or I make to sacrifice or give of
           ourselves to meet the need of someone else, even
           if a prior relationship has not been established

    - now, a good question for all of us to ask at this point
      would be - has my definition of love been the same as
      God's definition?
      - Have I been using that word and thinking about that
        concept the same way God does?

    - let's apply that concept to a couple of well worn
       phrases in our society just to be sure we have the
       definition down.
    - (I'd like to have one of our teen-agers answer this
       one) - How is what we're talking about tonight
       different than the guy who says to his date - "If you
       loved me, you'd have sex with me?" (the person who
       says that has just told you in the strongest possible
       terms - I don't love you - because they are interested
       in what they can get, not what they can give.)

    - let's try another one - what about for the husband who
        concludes - "I just don't feel like I love my wife
        anymore"

- so that’s the definition of love, and we all need to ask
  ourselves if we are using that word, and thinking about
  that word, in a way that is consistent with the way God
  does


- I realize that we have some of our young people from clubs
  here tonight, so let me ask a question to be sure you
  younger ones are understanding what we're saying

- if love is giving of what I have to help someone else,
  how could you be loving with the new toys you just got for
  Christmas when a friend comes over and wants to play?
  (3rd grade or younger answer)

- what would be an unloving thing to do?

- now there are obviously all kinds of applications of this
  concept, but the next thing we have to talk about is - What
  is:

II. The Connection To The Context

- there are some definite reasons why Paul began his list
  with this word, and some of those reasons apply to the
  Galatians themselves

    Here's some things that were going on in their church:

    A. What was happening in the Galatian church

        1. 4:15-16 - turned on their friend Paul, calling him
                      an enemy

        2. 5:26 - proud, envious, provoking each other

        3. 5:15 - "biting and devouring" each other

            - you can imagine how that could happen if a
              church becomes legalistic
            - everybody's got their little list of spiritual
              do's and don'ts that aren't based on the
              Scripture
                - going around declaring anyone who doesn't
                  meet the criteria on his/her list to be
                  unspiritual or even unsaved

                - INPUT - let me ask you, over time, what
                    kind of atmosphere is that going to breed
                       - what words come to mind?  (proud,
                         hateful, bickering, competitive -
                         anything but loving)

            - at issue here is, how do you respond to those
              with whom you have a disagreement?
            - there's nothing intrinsically wrong with
              disagreeing with someone, or having a
              discussion in the church about what God would
              want in a certain situation and what he
              wouldn't want
    - but Paul wants them to see, that the first thing that
      better be evident in them, even in the midst of
      disagreements over certain standards in the Christian
      life, is a loving spirit

    - its absolutely, always wrong to stand for truth in an
      unloving way
    - there's something wrong with someone who says - I'm
      standing on God's side, standing for truth, standing
       for the law, yet doing that in a unloving way

    - Paul said - Rom. 13:10 - the fulfillment of the law is
           love
    - Eph: 4:15 - speak the truth in love

    - that leads us to a very important question:

    B. How about with you?

        - we need to ask ourselves - am I characterized by
          a loving spirit, even with those with whom I don't
          agree

        1. with those who are unsaved

         - unbelievers can do some things that really bother
           us
         - perhaps you've experienced some of that over the
           holidays
         - now being loving doesn't mean we never talk, we
            never speak truth - but an unbeliever ought to
            come away from time with us thinking - "I don't
            necessarily agree with what the person has to say
              -but I sure appreciate the way they say it"

         - or, "I don't understand what they're talking about
           yet, or why that issue is so important to them -
           but they sure express it in a loving way"

        - this applies not just to spiritual issues, but to
          any issue where you might have a disagreement with
          a person who doesn't know Christ

        - how about when that happens at work?
        - would those involved say you were characterized by
          the fruit of the Spirit
        - how about the teacher at school that messed up your
          grade

        - how about the clerk at the store who was rushed and
          unkind and so busy she made a mistake and- you get
          home and look at the receipt and sure enough - she
           was wrong and you were right

        - you're on your way back over to the mall and you're
          making your plan of attack - when that situation is
          over  - is the person going to say of you - she
          sure is a loving person

        - the first component of the spirit's fruit is love

        2. with those who are saved

            - there are folks who are believers who don't see
              things the way we do in certain circumstances
            - we need to ask ourselves tonight, are we loving
              in those situations
            - if you've been around here any length of time,
              you know that we have some strong convictions
              around here about the sufficiency of the Bible.
            - We believe the Bible has all we need for life
              and godliness and therefore when a believer has
              a problem, he ought to go to the Word of God to
              find answers.
- well, as you know, not every person who says they're a
  Christian believes that
- and we have opportunities from time to time to discuss
  those issues with those folks, or we have people ask us
  questions about certain authors, or radio show hosts, etc.
- and often discussions are within the context of some sort
  of disagreement
    (and you've probably been in some of those discussions
     yourself)
       - the question has to be - am I a loving person even
         in those situations
       - see, the Galatians were not
       - they proved the shallowness of their faith, or their
         plain lack of it by the way they handled each other
         when there was a disagreement
       - the fruit of the spirit was not evident

- I would have to say with you sadly that there are a few
  folks who would agree with us on philosophy of ministry or
  counseling who we really can't associate ourselves with
  because of their bitter, caustic spirit

- point is - one of the major components of the fruit of the
  spirit is love, and we need to ask ourselves, am I
  developing that part of the spirit's fruit in my life?

- would my children say that? my parents? my spouse?
  my co-workers?  my neighbor? folks at church?
- Can you think of ways you definitely have sacrificed of
  yourself to meet the needs of others?

- I think we also need to say that this doesn't just apply
  individually, it applies corporately as well
- God wants Faith Baptist Church to be a loving church, to
  evidence the spiritual fruit of love
- often times I'll ask folks who are new, "what are you
  looking for in a church?"
- Do you know what they almost always say? (not doctrinally sound, though I'm       sure that’s important/ not one with a lot of programs)
- almost always say
- we'd like a friendly church
     what they are saying is
- we'd like a church where folks are loving
   - see, remember we said - one of the things that
         distinguishes agape love is that seeks to meet needs
         even with individuals where there has been no prior
         relationship, or even when that relationship has
         been strained in the past
- they are looking for a church where folks are friendly,
  loving, willing to sit down next to them, introduce
  themselves, strike up a conversation, show some interest,
  send a note, call during the week
      - I think we need to say - that doesn't come naturally
      - that only comes from making a conscious choice of
        looking for folks to love in that way
    - it means I may not be able to spend all the time I want
      with my established friend right now
    - I want to be sure I'm developing the spiritual fruit of
      love

- if that’s true, then another good question to ask tonight
  would be, "are we developing that spiritual fruit as a
  church body?"
- if there was a meat thermometer type device that measured
  love what would we find when we checked the body of
  Christ here?
- another way of looking at that would be
- if our church's performance in this area was based solely on you
- in other words, if everyone here was exactly as loving as you were,
  just how loving would our church be
- see, are our worship services a loving environment to come
  in to, are our Sunday school classes that way, is our youth
  group, our nursery
- God wants us individually, and God wants us corporately, to
  be developing the spirit's fruit of love
- by the way, I believe the Outdoor Living Nativity will give
  us a great opportunity to develop this important character
  quality
- you may have already been thinking as we were presenting
  that special outreach ministry
       - but what about the weather
       - that might hinder my holiday schedule
       - that will be a lot of work

- I think we need to say this - what a great opportunity
      to be loving
- what a great opportunity to think about the tremendous
      spiritual need that exists in our community and how
      marvelous it would be if we could be used of the Lord
      to meet that need in the lives of people

- the church of Galatia was really lacking in this area
- it would be good tonight for you and I to think about how
        we're doing
- now I had a hard decision to make at this point
    - because the problem when it comes to this subject
        isn't 
- "Where can I go in the Bible to find material on this subject?"
- - instead, its "Of all the material in the Bible on this subject, what would be most profitable for those involved in the study to hear?

- we could go a number of directions here
    - could talk about Christ's example - a number of great
          passages on this subject
    - we could talk about how true biblical love can only be
          evidenced by those who are saved
    - a # of passages about that
    - we could go to I Cor. 13:3, study the beautiful
          characteristics of love that are listed there
    - we could study the OT prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer,
           and the wonderful picture of God's love that book
           presents

- buts lets pass those up and ask:

III. In What Ways Are You And I Most Likely To Fail In This
      Area?

- let me ask you to turn to Matt. 5

- read 17-18, 21-22

    A. Principle - "Don't be trapped by selective application”

        - Jesus knew that many folks had the habit of
          applying His truth to the easy areas of life,
          without really thinking through the true intent of
          the command and applying it across the board

    - now, did that problem cease back in Bible days?

    - of course not, you and I could get caught in this same
      trap even this evening and say, well, I'm loving to
      this person or I'm loving in this situation
- while that’s good
- – that’s not really the issue and that kind of thinking probably
- will not result in you and I developing this component of the fruit of the spirit in a way that’s pleasing to The Lord

- the question ought to be

- - who are you tempted not be loving toward?

- - In what situations are you least loving or just plain unloving?

- the lord applies that same principle to love in verse 43
    (read 43-48)

    B. Principle applied to love

- see, our Lord said
- - it’s not enough just to be loving to those who are loveable
- - if the children of God you'll be loveable even to your enemies, or
         those who are hard to love

   - I think it'd be very wise to make a chart, either in our
     mind or on paper, that lists the various folks that we
     have contact with on a regular basis from easiest to
     love to most difficult to love

Easiest to love                               Hardest To Love
_____________________________________________________________

- then we need to ask this - at what point to I cease
  evidencing the spiritual fruit of love?

- see, for some, they would have to draw the line very close
    to the left, because they are loving to a very select
    few, but after that they are cold and indifferent

- we could do the same, except using situations instead of
   people

Easiest To Be Loving                    Hardest To Be Loving
____________________________________________________________

- we could lead our children through a similar exercise

- then the question would become this, after I've identified
  who I have trouble loving, or in what situations I
  have the most difficulty, now what steps must I take in
  order to develop this fruit

- I believe that God would be greatly pleased if we would
  seek to grow in this area

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video