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Seven-Day Practical Faith Blog: How to Practice The Spirit Fruit of Love

Updated: Jul 14

Love is the messiest thing I've ever been involved with - it's not even close. Yet it's the most central of all of the Fruits of the Spirit and stands essential in living a seven-day practical faith. It's the first fruit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23, it's the place I'll start, and it's the fruit to which I'll tie all the other fruits as I proceed with this summer practical faith blog series on the Fruits of the Spirit.

Jesus said the greatest commandment in the Old Testament scriptures was to love God to the fullest; connected to that was the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. All commandments of the law, Jesus said, are built upon these two foundational principles.

The Apostle John yanks away any notion of only implementing the first half to love God without fulfilling the second half of loving others. From 1 John 4:20-21:

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

This is hard to hear, because we would rather love an abstract God or an ideal, abstract person than the very concrete, very faulty, very annoying person that we encounter.

Let me suggest three principles for fulfilling Jesus's strenuous command to love others: choice, honor, and flow.

CHOICE: Love is a choice, not a feeling. We choose to love others because they are persons of God-given value and worth.

Marriage is a good example. We say, "I do," and promise to be faithful and constant with our love for each other. But on a day by day basis, our feelings for each other may be stronger or weaker. Instead, we must decide each day afresh to love our spouse, even if we're not feeling it as strongly today. We must separate a person's value and worth from our momentary feelings in order to love them.

HONOR: If we believe in the value and worth of a person, we honor that person and give weight to their value, to who they are, and to what they say. Dishonor would be the opposite, not valuing them.

Think about what it looks like to honor or dishonor a person's character, opinion, words, actions, habits, shortcomings, and how we commit time, listening, restraint, and appreciation to them. If we made a list of behaviors for honoring or dishonoring, we would readily see that we should choose honoring them.

As difficult as an individual might be to love, we must remember that God loves them deeply. God honored them by giving them life, value, and worth, making them in the same image and giving them the highest place of all creatures. This is a difficult perspective to achieve when looking at a particular individual, but when we put that person in the context of God's plan and intent, we find a path to perspective.

FLOW: Let God's love flow through you to others. This is a powerful concept. We start by understanding, accepting, and experiencing God's love for us, then we allow ourselves to be conduits of God's love.

Is this really possible to be a conduit of God's love toward difficult people? I can say that I have successfully used these techniques and shared with others who have found them to work.

I started with saying, "Lord, if it is up to me to love, this is not going to go well. Instead, love this person through me." It's not a magic formula with instant results, but you'll see things get a little better, bit by bit. Over time, you'll find it more natural to love the other person. Believe it or not, you will eventually see the other person respond to you differently as they sense that you are treating them differently.

We're fortunate that the Holy Spirit lives within us and is very willing to help you love others and exercise that Fruit of the Spirit. If you unblock the Spirit, you will find love flowing and your own love starting to ripen within you.

Loving others is central to the greatest commandment. On his death bed, the Apostle John supposedly kept repeating to his followers and attendants, "Love one another." They finally asked, "Is there anything else?" John replied, "It is enough." Today, it's still enough to know that we must focus on love above all else.

For more on the Fruit of Love, please listen to my Practical Faith Academy Podcast on "Fruits of the Spirit - Love." The Fruits season dates back to 2021-22, so you'll need to search for older episodes wherever you find the Practical Faith Academy Podcast on Spotify, Apple, Audacy, iHeartRadio, Podbean, YouTube, and more.

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