By Gary D. Erickson
A. What is love?
1. Love is God’s greatest virtue.
2. Love is an attitude and active concern for the well being of another.
3. Love is the cornerstone of all good virtues.
4. Love is a prevailing inner capacity that emanates ultimately from God’s indwelling Spirit.
5. Love is not a reciprocal exchange of commodities, but a one-sided giving of one’s self.
6. Love is not directed toward a single object but is a transcendent, prevailing goodness, unrestrained and non-discriminate, not motivated by objects, but by love itself.
7. Love is not taking, consuming, or possessing, but giving, forfeiting of one’s possessions.
8. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10).
9. Love is the means and ends of human existence.
10. Love is the greatest commandment (Luke 10:27).
11. Love is a basic human need. Without it life is meaningless.
II. The Theology of Love:
A. God has feeling and affection according to the Scripture, but His love emanates from His volition. God has emphatically revealed Himself as having a loving nature.
1. For God is love (1 John 4:8). There is no other attribute spoken of in such terms.
2. Love is the highest characteristic of God.
B. God’s love is directed toward mankind (both good and evil men).
1. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old (Isaiah 63:9).
2. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).
3. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
4. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4: 1 0).
C. The highest and most complete proof of His love is the act of redemption.
1. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
2. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).
III. Love, A Fruit Of The Spirit:
A. Love: (Greek, agape) = is an affection, tender and passionate attachment.
1. Other Greek words translated love in the KJV.
a. Eros = sexual love.
b. Storge = family affection.
c. Philia = friendship between man and man or woman and woman.
d. Philanthropis = humanitarianism.
2. It is the fulfillment of the law. Without it the claim to Christianity is invalidated.
a. In it all human duty is summed up.
b. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37-40). On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Also Romans 13:8; I Corinthians 13:13).
3. It is the chief test of Christian discipleship.
a. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).
b. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: … (Matthew 5:44).
4. Just as all sin springs from the root of selfishness, love is the source of all good virtues.
B. This agape love is not the same as human love (i.e. a mother’s love for her child).
1. In order to produce this God-like love we must be born of the Spirit. God’s love is superior to the human ability to love. It is the purest, strongest, and most enduring form of love.
a. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:5). God’s love which is born of the Spirit will cause a believer to love his enemy.
b. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44).
c. Stephen as he was being stoned: And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:60).
d. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates God’s love (Luke 10).
IV. The Three Dimensions Of Love: As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love (John 15:9).
A. God’s love to mankind: (Discussed earlier, 11, B.)
1. The love Jesus displayed is the ultimate example of love. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:33-34).
B. Man’s love for God:
1. The first and greatest commandment:
a. The first of all the commandments is, Hear, 0 Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment (Matthew 12:29-30).
b. But if any man love God, the same is known of him (1 Corinthians 8:3).
c. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments (1 John 5:2).
C. Man’s love for his fellowman:
1. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Galatians 5:14).
2. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (1 John 4:21).
V. The Love Chapter – I Corinthians 13:
A. No doubt Paul wrote this chapter about perfect love under the inspiration of the life of Jesus.
B. He is teaching about spiritual gifts and their use in the church.
1. Regardless how spiritual we are, the gifts can be destructive without love.
2. The Corinthian Church did not have perfect love. There were divisions among them. They were suing one another and practicing excesses.
C. Being spiritual is more than being mystical. Until we are producing the fruit of love, we are nothing!
The fruit of the Spirit begins with love. Joy is love exulting; peace is love in repose; longsuffering is love on trial; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the battlefield; meekness is love at school; and temperance is love in training. – Dwight L. Moody, The Moody Year Book, New York, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1900.
There are two kinds of love: the love of feeling and the love of willing. The one lies in the emotions, the other in the will. The love the Bible enjoins is not the love feeling, it is the love of willing, the willed tendency of the heart. The will, not the feelings, determine moral direction. – A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, Harrisurg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc.
We like someone because. We love someone although – Jo Petty, Apples of Gold, Norwalk, CT: C.R. Gibson Company, p. 14.
Forgiveness is the fragrance the violent sheds on the heel that crushes it. – Petty, Ibid.
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Ibid.
Love is not love Which alter when it alterations finds. Shakespeare, Sonet CXVI.
Those who need love most deserve it least. – E.C. McKenzie, 14,000 Quips and Quotes, New York: Wing Books, 1980, p. 313.
Without love, even the greatest gifts-speaking in tongues, prophecy, insight into mysteries, , knowledge, miracle-working, faith, almsgiving, martyrdom-are completely worthless (I Corinthians 13:1-3). Gifts without love are barren; gifts with love are fruitful. So love has primacy because without it the noblest gifts cannot be used for the welfare of others, the building up of the community and the glory of God. – Stephen F. Winward, Ibid., p. 63.
This article “The Fruit of the Spirit” by Gary D. Erickson is excerpted from his teaching notes, Fruit of the Spirit, 1999.