Fruit of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Galatians 5: 22-23
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and He who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and He in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
I John 4: 7-19
Many people call I Corinthians 13, St. Paul’s “Treatise on Love.” In 13 short verses, he writes a treasury on what love is. An entire book could be written just on this chapter of scripture. Over the next few days, we’ll examine this chapter in more detail as we talk about Love, the first fruit of the Spirit.
Today, we examine the first three verses I Corinthians 13, which could be summarized as “In the end, love is all that matters.” Or as the saying goes, “Love isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Jesus, in the Gospels, summarized all the commandments in the Bible into two—love God and love your neighbor. And these two can be summarized into one word: love.
In Matthew 25: 31-46, Jesus tells us that our judgment will be based on how well we loved others—did we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and minister to the imprisoned. Our judgment will not only be based on faith, but on love. Love is faith in action. When we love others, we are putting our faith into action. And when we want to put faith into action, that is done by showing either love for God or love for others. There is no faith without love. And there will be no salvation without faith or with love, or with grace, which is God’s reward of our love and forgiveness of our failures to love.
Accomplishing amazing, incredible things, like speaking languages, understanding mysteries, acquiring knowledge, and even philanthropy, done without love, amounts to nothing in the eyes of God. Without love, we ultimately accomplish nothing, we ultimately gain nothing. The only thing, we hope to gain from life is everlasting life and if love is the basis of our eternal judgment, then without love we really accomplish nothing in life.
Every day, our lives seem to get busier and more stressful. So, it is important to remember to make loving gestures each day. The success of the day shouldn’t be measured only by tangible output at work. We can produce tangible output that isn’t loving at all. Rather, the success of each day, and the goal of each day, should be the intangible gift of love offered towards others and making that work intentional throughout the day. This is what pleases God.
Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Help me to remember, in all that I do today, to be a person of love. When I have the opportunities to show love to someone today, may I choose love. In opportunities I will have to be frustrated and disappointed today, help me to remember to choose love first. Bless all the encounters with people that I will have today (bring some to mind), may I show love in all them. Amen.
Remember that love is all that matters at the end!
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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