Dave continued his series on the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) this morning, looking at the subject of love. Love is of utmost importance to the Christian life, unsurprisingly since the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Rom 8:15 reminds us that our adoption as children of God leaves us with a heartfelt longing for God; New Testament Christianity speaks of vigour, exuberance and passion, not a dry and dead faith. If we understand the primary importance of love, then all the other spiritual gifts fall into place (see 1 Cor 13.)

John 13:34-35 reminds us that Jesus issued us with a new commandment, to love one another as He has loved us. All the law and commandments rest on the commandment to love (Rom 13:8 reminds us that if we love, we have fulfilled the law), and the command to love (which John echoes repeatedly in his letters) is not an optional extra. Everything God does arises from love, for He is love (1 John 4:7-8); thus, He creates, rules and judges from this motive.

Our love has to be modelled on the love Jesus showed His disciples, a love which is based on actions, not on feelings. John 3:16 reminds us that God’s love mobilised Him to action; Rom 5:8 shows us how God’s love was demonstrated through Christ’s death for us. Our love needs, therefore, to be seen in our actions.

Jesus’s love was also inclusive, not selective. He loves the whole world (see John 3:16, 2 Pet 3:9), even though He is open-eyed about our sin (His love is definitely not blind!) There is no favouritism in God (see Rom 2:11), but His love includes us all, no matter what our mistakes or sins. His love is also sacrificial and selfless, demonstrated in His sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Our world is desperate for love: hate is so rife and so easy, but we need God’s love to set an example. We cannot love like God in our own strength (2 Cor 3:3) and therefore need to be filled with God’s Spirit, so His love can dwell in us.