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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Loving Your Brother

And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. 
1 John 4:21

Hmmm—loving God sounds easy: just return the overflow agape back to Him. Loving my husband is not so tough, most days. And those darling grandbabies—send them on. But what about my crazy uncle who shows up at the family gatherings two sheets to the wind? And the noisy neighbor who disturbs the peace of my backyard? How in the world am I to be spontaneous in loving the unlovely?

By remaining in the Spirit, the good Book says. The wise words of Galatians 5:22-23 paint the perfect word picture: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You don’t have to be much of a horticulturist to realize you can’t tie fruit onto the branches of a tree and call it a fruit tree. Apples, oranges, lemons, and peaches are all produced and ripened from the sap that runs deep within. Holy agape love is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of me. I am merely a branch on the tree (John 15:5).

It is widely accepted that all the remaining fruit of the Spirit in that list stem from the first, agape love. And if we surrender to the Spirit’s love in us, the rest will come naturally. Somewhere along the way the following has come my way:

For the Fruit of the Spirit is: LOVE

            JOY which is love smiling.

PEACE which is love resting.

PATIENCE which is love waiting.

KINDNESS which is love showing itself sensitive to others’ feelings.

GOODNESS which is love making allowances and sacrifices for others.

FAITHFULNESS which is love proving constant.

GENTLENESS which is love yielding.

SELF-CONTROL which is love triumphing over selfish inclinations.

See what I mean. If you are gushing with agape, you will be able to love the unlovely.

And the end result will be that people will love you back. Not so fast. The end result has to be that people will love Jesus back since they will know it is God’s love overflowing through you. Jesus said to love as He loved so all men will recognize the source of your love: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must have love for one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35).

Amazing! Rare, sacrificial, unconditional, lavish agape love, alive in you and in me, glorifies Jesus. Let it overflow ladies.

Nancy P

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