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The Greatest of These

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Beatles said all you need is love. Maybe, like Elvis, you can’t help falling in love. Or maybe, like Foreigner, you want to know what love is. According to Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. And too bad for Johnny Lee—he was looking for love in all the wrong places!

Everybody wants to be loved. Perhaps that’s why so many songs are all about finding that special person and falling in love.

But the love mentioned in Galatians 5:22 is different. It’s from the Greek word, “agape,” and it means to love someone the way God loves us. When the Holy Spirit fills our lives, we are empowered to love others the way God loves us.

How does God love?

He loves sacrificially. He loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for our sins.

He loves unconditionally. He loves us regardless of our past mistakes or our current jacked-up situation. We don’t have to deserve his love to receive it.

He loves unfailingly. God always loves. He doesn’t stop when he’s tired, or grumpy, or feels slighted. He doesn’t stop when those he loves are unlovable. He just keeps loving.

Jesus told us in Mark 12:30-31 that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the great challenge of our lives—to love God and other people. Steadfastly. With our whole hearts. Even when they don’t deserve it.

Such a lofty challenge requires the Holy Spirit to accomplish. On our own, we can’t love like God. To produce this fruit requires the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Bob Goff said, “We will become in our lives what we do with our love.” Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  (See John 13:33.)

There’s no getting around it. Our lives must produce more than pop-song love. We must produce the fruit of sacrificial, unconditional, unfailing love. Agape love. The kind of love the Holy Spirit will pour into our souls if we ask him.

Dear Father in heaven, I want to love you with my whole heart. Search my heart and cleanse me from anything that interferes with my ability to love you wholeheartedly. Show me how to let your sacrificial, unconditional, unfailing love flow into my heart, and then out into the world. I want the world to see that I am your disciple because of the steadfast love I pour into others. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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