But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22
We’ve begun to see that love for God and love for each other are intimately connected. To say you love God, while you hate your brother/sister in Christ or your neighbour, is a contradiction. Love for God is obeying His commands. And He has commanded you to love your neighbour. Therefore, to hate your neighbour is also to hate God, in whose image he/she was created, and Who commands you to love him/her.
In the words of Jerry Bridges:
“We cannot love God without loving one another. To recognize that there is someone I do not love is to say to God, ‘I do not love you enough to love that person.’ This is not to deny the reality of spiritual struggle in loving a particular person, because it often exists. I am referring to the attitude of not even wanting to love the person, of being content to allow a lack of love for someone who resides in my heart unchecked and unchallenged.”
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has been given to us to challenge our loveless hearts. Those who truly have faith in Christ have been born of God and have the Holy Spirit reproducing the character of Christ from within so that they more and more love others from the heart in word and deed. As we’ve seen previously, this was promised long ago, that God would give us His Spirit to cause us to walk in His ways and be careful to obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Suggestions for prayer
Is there someone you struggle to love? Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love that person. Remember the sacrificial love of Christ for you, while you were a sinner and deserved God’s wrath (1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:6-8). There is no greater love!