But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22
Sometimes we have a counterfeit love. This is where we love others not for their intrinsic dignity and worth, but for how they make us feel or what we can get from them. As we saw yesterday, love is sacrificial and selfless, patterned after the cross of Christ. But love doesn’t come easy to us because bearing a cross isn’t easy and our sinful nature wants to turn us in on ourselves. Some people are also difficult to love. But when love doesn’t come easy, it tests our love. Do we really love as Christ loved us? Do we love this person, even when it’s difficult, or do we only love them when they make us feel good or we get something from them?
There are times where relationships can be so extremely harmful that we need to remove ourselves from them. But in most relationships our tendency is to bail too soon, right when the opportunity to truly love arises. Martin Luther put it this way:
“Whenever you are angry with your brother for any cause, repress your violent emotions through the Spirit. Bear with his weakness and love him. He does not cease to be your neighbour or brother because he offended you. On the contrary, he now more than ever before requires your loving attention.”
Where do we find the strength to love when it’s difficult? As we saw yesterday, it’s a fruit of the Spirit produced in us through prayer and meditation on the cross.
Suggestions for prayer
Sing and meditate on the words of the great hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Pray for the Spirit’s immeasurable strength to love others, even when it’s difficult (Ephesians 1:15-20; 3:14-21).