But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22
What is love? God is the source of love (1 John 4:7-8). If we want to know what love is, we must look to God as He has revealed His love in His Word, supremely in the Word made flesh. Jesus is love incarnate. When we look to Jesus, we discover that love is not simply an emotion, a warm fuzzy feeling that you have for another person. Rather, love is sacrificial and selfless. It gives to another (John 3:16), even to one’s enemies (Romans 5:6-8). We see this supremely displayed in the cross: “By this we know love, that he laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Here we see that the cross gives us both the pattern and power to love. Love is defined by the cross (“by this we know love”). The Spirit uses the preaching of the cross to empower us to love (“and we ought to lay down our lives”; also 1 John 4:9-11, 19).
No doubt love involves our emotions. But at the center of love is sacrifice and selflessness. In the words of John Stott, “Christian love is not the victim of our emotions but the servant of our will.” Loving others isn’t always easy (Galatians 5:17). We need the Spirit to produce the fruit of love in us. He does it as we behold the love of Christ proclaimed in the Word and sacraments and pray for the fruit of love.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that God will empower you by the Spirit to love others as Christ first loved you and gave Himself for you. Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love others not for what you get from them, but rather, self-sacrificially.