Developing the Spirit's Fruit of Love - pt. 1

Dr. Steve Viars March 11, 2000 Galatians 5:

- Most of you probably heard this story this week.
- A woman was going to the airport and she was pulling into the parking area.
- a man in front of her was stopped at the gate, and the woman looked behind her to be sure she wasn’t going to be hit from behind while she waited....
- inadvertently her vehicle inched forward and her car nudged the man’s car, which just happened to be a pretty nice sports utility vehicle.
- all of a sudden the man jumped out of the truck, and in a rage came back and started yelling at the woman.
- the woman rolled her window down [which was probably a natural reaction but proved to be a very bad idea.
- at the same time, the woman’s little white dog that was with her in the car came to see what all the commotion was about, and got up on her lap.
- this woman and her husband don’t have any children, and she often took her dog with was just a little white fluffy thing....
- all of a sudden this man reaches in the woman’s car, grabs the dog, and hurls it into the oncoming traffic.
- the woman jumps out, before she can get to the dog, it is hit by a car.....
- she scoops it up, and drives it to the vet...but the dog died before she got there.
- the man in the meantime, jumps in his SUV and drives away.

- friends, that’s hatred.
- its hard to believe that someone would be that cruel to a complete stranger, or to anyone for that matter.

- but that’s the extreme....we clearly recognize that as being selfish, and wicked and hateful.

- but now let me ask you a hard you and I ever do things that are hateful?
- not to that extreme, I know.
- but on a continuum between hate and love.....
- how far up the line would we have to go before you or I would be willing to admit.....
- sometimes I say words that are cruel or hateful....[or at least certainly not as loving as they ought to be]
- or sometimes do things that are cruel or hateful.... [or at least certainly not as loving as they ought to be]
- or sometimes I think thoughts that are cruel or hateful..... [or at least certainly not as loving as they ought to be]
- maybe not [hopefully not] near to the degree of this illustration.....
- but is there any of us that would say, my life in both the inner and outer man is completely free of any element of hatred [I don’t think so].

- now let me ask you a couple of other questions....
1) With what person / persons in your life do you especially struggle with loving?
- get you get that person(s) in your mind right now?
2) In what situations do you especially struggle being loving?
- if there’s going to be a lack of love in your life, how, when, and in what ways is that most likely to show up?
- one more question.....are you satisfied with where you are on this area?....or would you say with [hopefully] the rest of us....I want to rid my life of any traces of hatred, and become a more loving individual in the days ahead.
- If that’s the case, and I believe it is, let me invite you to open your Bible to Galatians chapter 5.
- if you’re new to studying the Bible, Galatians 5:16 is on page 149 of the back section of the Bible in the pew in front of you.....
- three weeks ago we began a new series entitled “Developing the Fruit of the Spirit”
- we’re talking about this delightful list of character qualities that are found in Galatians 5:22-23.
- its not surprising that the very first aspect of the spirit’s fruit is love.
- Paul told the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 - If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
- in other words, if we’re not growing in biblical love according to these verses, I am becoming nothing, I am nothing, and it will profit me nothing.
- when you do the math, nothing times three is big time nothing.
- that’s why he says later in that chapter - I Corinthians 13:13 - But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- so it shouldn’t surprise us that the very first aspect of the spirit’s fruit that God wants us to be developing is love.
- let’s read our key text in Galatians chapter 5.
- to get a running start, let’s begin reading in verse 13 [read 13-26].

- this morning we’re talking about Developing the Spirit’s Fruit of Love.
- and I’d like us to try to keep this as simple and practical as we possibly can.
- so we’re going to divide our time around three truths you must know and apply in order to grow in biblical love.
- and I’d like to give you the main ideas right off the bat this morning so you know where we’re heading.
I.  Understand What Biblical Love Is.
II.  Understand What Biblical Love Looks Like Personally.
III. Understand What Biblical Love Looks Like Corporately.
- that should be enough to keep us busy and out of trouble for the next few minutes.

I.  Understand What Biblical Love Is.

- now, there’s a reoccurring phrase in that outline....the words “biblical love”
- I hope every person here would say...I want God’s Word to be the authority and standard in my life....
- not what culture thinks....
- not what I think....
- not even what my church thinks....
- the question here is, what does the Word of God teach on this subject?...we want to know precise biblical definitions, we want to have precise biblical examples...
- if that confirms what I’m already doing, great....I’ll keep doing what I’m doing
- if it goes against the way I’ve been heading, then I’m determined to change right away
- but the issue always is....what’s biblical?....what’s God’s Word say?
- now, in order to get this kind of understanding, we need to study some things together.
A.  From the meaning of the word.
- in the language the NT was written in [Greek], there were four primary words that could be translated with our English word “love”
1.  stergo - affection, especially for family members.
- this one is only used in a few times in the Bible, including places like:
I Timothy 3:3 - ...without natural affection

2.  phileo - fondness, especially to people who are somehow connected to us, either by blood, or race, or faith.
- we often think of this as “brotherly love”
- this word is the basis of the word “Philadelphia” which of course means “city of brotherly love”
- this word is used many times in the Bible, and it is a beautiful thing to have these kinds of relationships.

3.  eros - sensual love.
- this word was used widely in Greek culture during the days of the early church
- of course today we get the word “erotic” from this root
- but interesting enough, this word is never used in the Bible

4.   agape - sacrificial love
- what sets agape love apart is this aspect of choosing to sacrifice for the other person even when there is no prior relationship, and at times even when the other person clearly doesn’t deserve it [so there was a relationship, but it was bad].

- if you were guessing, which of these words do you think would be the one used in this text?
- its the word “agape”.....God wants you, in cooperation with His Spirit, to be developing biblical, sacrificial agape type love even when you don't feel like it, even when there’s a significant sacrifice involved, even when there’s no prior established relationship, and even at times when the person doesn’t deserve it because the relationship that was established was bad because of what they did.

- now we need to point out that this doesn’t mean that there are no emotions involved.
- if this discussion produces something akin to stoicism, then its out of balance.
- Christians are not emotion-less people....however, we just don't let emotions run the show.
- but for a topic like love, what happens is....
- as you choose to sacrificially love another you choose to invest in their life....the feelings follow.
- where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
- the emotions follow as you invest your time, and your energy, and your attention, and your ministry in that other person.
- so this is intensely emotional, its just not dependent on emotions....
- the feelings are the caboose of the train, not the engine.

- so for the husband who says, I don't love my wife anymore....while he probably believes he’s just stating the fact....the truth is that he’s indicting himself.
- love isn’t a passive thing you fall into like a mud puddle in the front yard.....
- it’s a choice you make....its an action word.
- now you might say, PV, are you sure?
- “I said a moment ago that I want to live according to the Bible, but are you sure this is the kind of fruit that God wants to see in me?....because this is sounding kind-of tough”
- without a doubt, and we can get this, not only from the meaning of the word but also:
B.  From the usage of the word.
- here’s some great verses from the Bible that also use this word “agapn love”:
- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- and when you just stop and think about this....the fact that God would make it possible for us to develop a characteristic that would even be associated with this kind of love is truly amazing....agapn love.
- Ephesians 5:25 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;
- Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.
- John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
- 1 John 3:16 - We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

- now, did you notice that in each of these verses, these elements of agapn love are evident....
- this really is a willingness to meet someone else’s need, even when you don't feel like it, even when there’s a significant sacrifice involved, even when there’s no prior established relationship, and even at times when the person doesn’t deserve it because the relationship that was established was bad because of what they did.

- now, what about the person who would say, OK PV, I see from the meaning of the word and the usage of the word, that God does want to develop this aspect of the Spirit’s fruit in the rest of His children’s lives....
- but that’s not possible for me because I don’t have anyone in my life who is loving me that way, and I don’t have anyone in my past who has ever loved me in this I’m sorry but in my case I don’t have a model to follow.

- now I don’t want to minimize the difficult relationships that some people here today are involved in....and I certainly don't want to minimize the difficult and abusive relationships that some people here have experienced in the past....
- but let me ask you to turn over just a couple of pages to Ephesians chapter 5 to see how Paul discussed this topic.
- there’s a beautiful picture of this topic in this passage.
- READ Ephesians 5:2 - and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
- see, for that person who would say, no one has ever loved me this way....friend, that’s not true.
- God the Father loved you this much....
- God the Son loved you this much....
- “as an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”, just like the OT sacrifices were fragrant aroma to God because the worshippers were acknowledging their sin and their dependence on Him for forgiveness.
- except Jesus’ sacrifice was so significant that it only had to made once.
- but the point is, none of us could say --- no one has ever loved me like this....because God the Father has, and God the Son has....
- and interestingly enough, the Bible even says that God the Holy Spirit has been involved in this kind of love...
- Romans 5:5 - and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

- now someone might say, but PV, loving like this is difficult....
- we haven’t gotten to the most challenging aspect of it yet....
- would you please turn over to Matthew chapter 5.
- we looked at parts of this passage quickly last we need to think about it a little more.
- we’re trying to understand love from the meaning of the word, and from the usage of the let’s try to understand this:
C.  From the extent of the command.
- read Matthew 5:43-48

- so the definition that we’ve been laying out this morning is truly based on the Word of God...
- a willingness to meet someone else’s need, even when you don't feel like it, even when there’s a significant sacrifice involved, even when there’s no prior established relationship, and even at times when the person doesn’t deserve it because the relationship that was established was bad because of what they did.

- now friend, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions....
1) Has your definition of love been the same as God’s definition, and if so [good], have you been acting on this definition?
2) Would the people who know you well have reason to conclude that you’re a loving person?...that this element of the spirit’s fruit is developing nicely?
3) Are you a loving person in the church?  Does this definition describe the way you function in the household of God?

- now let’s try to make the rest of this just as practical as we can....
- we’ve said, I.  Understand What Biblical Love Is.----now let’s talk about.....

II.  Understand What Biblical Love Looks Like Personally.

- I want to ask you to think about the relationships you’re currently involved in, and then ask...what would need to stop happening, or what would need to start happening, or what would need to happen more often....for my participation in that relationship to be more loving in the biblical sense of the word?
A.  With your friends.
- can I ask you a hard question....are you a user, or are you a giver?
- some people only develop friendships that are beneficial to them.
- its the people who have something to offer them, or something to give them, or in somehow make them feel comfortable, or enrich their lives.
- that’s not agapn love....
- biblical agapn love reaches out to others and sacrifices for others even when there’s nothing that comes back in return.
- now, in the busy culture in which we live....some might say, PV, I really don’t have any friends....
- can I encourage you to do something that might be hard?
- I want to encourage you to move out of your comfort zone and reach out to others in love.
1) For some here, that might mean starting to attend an ABF [describe new study]
- and I realize you might say....but that’s not a comfortable thing for me....
- friends, biblical love takes risks
2) Invite someone to do something with you...
- over for pie and ice cream....
- out to a restaurant....
- look for a way to show love to someone else
- I want to ask you to look for a way to be a more loving friend this week.

B.  With your family.
- for those of you who are married...can I ask you an important question....
- are you a loving spouse?
- is that the kind of impact you bring into the relationship?
- I’m not asking you about the other person right now....I’m asking you about you.
- Why not ask your spouse today, honey, what could I do to grow in the Spirit’s fruit of love in my relationship with you?

[if time, mention husbands -- more time spent of sacrificing and meeting needs, less time left to concentrate on what you’re not getting --- cf. Col. 3:19 - Husbands, love your wives, and be not embittered against them”

- what about other extended family relationships?
- children with their parents....parents with their children....
- is the Spirit’s fruit of love evident there?

C.  With those who are different.
- friend, what about the person who’s skin is a different color than yours?
- are you committed to being loving, to not being a respector of persons?
- what about the person who goes to a different church, or who maybe is even a different religion?
- are you committed to loving them?
- or would you believe that only Christians are welcome here, and everyone else should be run out of town?
- and you know I’m not saying that all religions are the same, and that everyone’s going to heaven....
- but do you believe in promoting religious freedom?
- do you protecting the right of someone to believe or worship different than we do?
- I hope you would answer those questions with a “yes”
- in some countries, people pick up guns over the issue of religion....
- Christianity should lead the way in holding strongly to our allegiance to Jesus Christ on the one hand, as the “way the truth, and the life”.... but on the other hand to loving others who believe differently than we do.

- some of you know I’ve had an opportunity to build relationships with some folks who practice Islam in our community.
- I hope you would believe that that’s a good thing to do.
- I received an e-mail from several of my new Muslim friends a few days before our Biblical Counseling Training Conference last month....
- [develop -- ending up coming to the conference]

- now again, I am not for a minute suggesting that there is some way to theologically reconcile the beliefs of Islam and biblical Christianity....
- but I believe that in a country like ours where a significant percentage of the population claims to be Christians, we ought to lead the way in showing love to people who are different.
- people are not going to come to Christ through intimidation, or pressure or force....
- more than likely, at least speaking in human terms, people are going to come to Christ by seeing the love of Jesus in one of His children.

D.  With those with whom you disagree.
- I asked you earlier to envision a person or a situation in which you find it difficult to be loving.
- I wonder how many of us fall short right here....where we automatically conclude that if someone differs with us, that makes them our enemy.

- as we walk down through these categories, are you identifying some areas that need some work in order for you to be more loving?
- are you thinking of the people, or of the situations where this aspect of the spirit’s fruit is not nearly as prevalent as it should be....and are you deciding now to do something about it?
- As I have prepared this message, the Lord certainly used some of these verses and concepts to convict my heart....I can find plenty of room to grow that happening for you as well.

- now, we’ve talked about how we must:
I.  Understand What Biblical Love Is.
II.  Understand What Biblical Love Looks Like Personally.

- let’s conclude our time with how we must:

III. Understand What Biblical Love Looks Like Corporately.

- let me ask you to look at one more passage of Scripture this morning.
- it’s back in the OT book of Leviticus...[page 89 in pew Bibles].
- when Jesus said in Matthew 22 that the second great commandment was that a person loves his neighbor as himself, he was quoting from Leviticus 19.
- there’s some information here that can be a great help to us as a church.
- please look first at verse 18 --- READ
- this is the passage that Jesus Christ quoted from in the NT.
- God has always wanted His people to be known for the way they showed love to others.
- well, let’s back up and see some of the specific ways He wants His people to show love.
- READ - Lev. 19:9-10

A.  Concern for the poor - Lev. 19:9-10
- now I realize that in our culture, some of this [if not much of it] has been taken over by the government through forced taxation.
- you might want to read the book “The Tragedy of American Compassion” by Marvin Olasky to get a Christian perspective on that whole topic.
- but the fact still remains that churches must be looking for opportunities to demonstrate the Spirit’s fruit of love, in part by our concern for the poor.
- and I have to say to you that many of our kind of churches have fallen short here.
- I think sometimes there’s the mentality that thats what liberal people do...friends, thats what loving people do.
- and I’m glad our counseling ministry doesn’t charge a fee so people can receive counsel even if they’re poor.
- I’m glad our school has a scholarship program so parents can send their child even if they are having tough times financially.
- I’m especially glad for the opening of our pre-school which was specifically designed to help that single mom who is trying to get back on her feet and can use some help doing so....thats a big issue in our culture.
- I’m glad we’ve made ministries like the Passion Play and LN free---anyone can participate.
- I commend those who worked on the Habitat for Humanity Home last year.
- I hope all of us would say that we want Faith baptist Church to be a loving church, and that begins, not with the person sitting next to you, that begins with you.

- read 19:11
B.  Integrity in business transactions - Lev. 19:11
- this has to be true corporately and individually
- we’re having all kinds of opportunities to do this during our building program
Horatio Bonar - There is a contamination of conscience too frequently found in even Christian men, from continual intercourse with an unconscientous world.  Glorify God, therefore, by a jealous integrity, and by a noble uprightness.

- read 19:13
C.  Prompt payment of wages - Lev. 19:13
- we can show love by paying our bills on time, and we do.
- we can show love by caring for our employees, which is the point of this principle.

- read 19:14
D.  Care for the less privileged - Lev. 19:14
- isn’t it just like our God to be sure that even persons with physical handicaps were included in His plan and program?
- God wants His people to show special love here....
- for many years our church has supported a ministry called Shepherds....
- a home in Wisconsin for people who are mentally handicapped
- I appreciate the way special kids are treated in this church [develop --- especially appreciate that as a parent --- appreciate many of the kids in our church who make it a point to reach out]
- we are exploring the idea of expanding our Christian school to include special needs kids.

- read 19:15
E.  Respect of Persons - Lev. 19:15
- churches should treat people fairly and lovingly, regardless of the color of their skin, or their economic condition....
- [develop --- local pastors meeting with minority leaders --- exploring the opportunity to have some kind of a joint racial celebration service]
- local churches ought to lead the way in decrying racial violence and hatred.
- why Christian people would ever want to separate races is totally beyond me...
- please don’t let anyone ever tell you thats biblical, because its not.

- read 19:16
F.  Integrity of speech - Lev. 19:16

- read 19:17
G.  Willingness to confront - Lev. 19:17

- develop the issue of how Christianity positions itself, and of Faith being a “loving church”

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

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