Christians should be easily identifiable! The Bible makes it quite clear that you know people by their fruits. One such fruit that will be evident is the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is a group of virtues or attitudes that should be true of every Spirit indwelt individual. Today we begin looking at each of the virtues in detail. The Apostle Paul states:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
The first in the list is love. Paul is saying those who have been saved from their sins and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit have the love of God imparted to them, and the love of God should be growing in them. So what exactly is this love of God that should be evident in believers? What makes it different from the love that the world gives? Here are a few things to note about the love of God.
Love takes the initiative
The love of God is unique in that it is not dependent on the worthiness of the recipient but on the choice of the lover. God chose us and demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were sinners Christ died for our sins (Rom. 5:8). God took the initiative not because we were lovable or deserving of the love but because He chose to. In fact, left to ourselves we would not have chosen God because sinful man does not desire or seek after God (Rom. 3:10-18).
This is the same love we should be showing and giving to people around us, unconditional and sacrificial love. Love without strings attached; love that does not look for what it can gain from an act or relationship; love that does not wait for others to love. It is love that takes the initiative, and it is love that will cost and inconvenience. Everyone who is a Christian must be a dispenser of love.
Love forgives the offences of others
God forgave our sins in Christ Jesus, and He promises us that He will always be faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we humbly confess our sins before Him (1 John 1:9). Love bears the cost of others and holds no record of wrong. It is then no wonder that the Bible commands us to forgive one another as God has forgiven us (Col. 3:13-15).
Love is action and not simply emotion
Love is more than just being nice to each other or feeling nice about each other. It definitely involves emotions, but it is more than feelings because you are to love even when you do not feel like it. No wonder we are commanded to love; you could not command someone to feel. Love is a command because it is a choice you make, and it is seen in action. For instance, God demonstrated (action) His love towards us. Christian love is more than just mere words and more than just feelings because it culminates into action. This is why the Bible urges us to love our enemies and strangers. No one ever feels like loving his enemy, but a transformed heart chooses to love his enemy and to do good to those who do evil to him.
It is for this reason that Christ told the disciples that love is the essence of Christianity. It is by our unique love that the watching world will know that we are Disciples of Christ. Hear the words of the Lord:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35