How does one express love? Isn't it interesting that we have set aside a yearly holiday that is meant to encourage us to do just that? Valentine's Day is the day for us to demonstrate our love to those who are special in our lives. We do have an example of someone who walked in perfect love. The love of God was shown through His Son, Jesus Christ, who became the expression of that love through a sacrificial life that ultimately led to His death on the Cross. God loves us so much that He could not imagine eternity without us. He willingly sent His Son to earth as a Redeemer. He took on His broken body "our infirmities and carried our sorrows...He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him..." (Isaiah 53:4-5)
The love of God is found in selflessness. In 1 Corinthians 13, called the Love Chapter, we find the description of what love looks like. It is interesting to me that the fruits of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23 have corresponding definitions in verses 4 through 7:
Love: v. 5 - "It is not self-seeking...It keeps no record of wrongs."
Joy: v. 6 - "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth."
Peace: v. 5 - "It is not easily angered."
Patience/Long Suffering: v. 4 - "Love is patient." v.7 - "It always perseveres."
Kindness: v. 4 - "Love is kind. It does not envy."
Goodness: v. 7 - "It always protects."
Faithfulness: v. 7 - "It always trusts, always hopes."
Gentleness/Meekness: v. 4 - "It does not boast; it is not proud."
Self-Control: v. 5 - "It is not rude."
Our walk while we are on earth should be maturing us, making us more Christ-like. We can evaluate our maturity by looking at the fruits of the Spirit. Our goal should be to produce the fruit that Jesus had. It is a lofty goal, but one that is attainable if we keep our eyes on Jesus. Our obedience to God's commands helps us to grow and develop in the fruits of the Spirit. All the fruits stem from the first one--LOVE. Song of Solomon was written as a book to help us reflect on the intimacies of God's love. It compares the bride to a "garden locked up" and lists the plants in that garden. There are nine plants in the garden, just as there are nine fruits of the Spirit. (Song of Solomon 4:12-14)
The disciple John unequivocally declares in 1 John 4:8, "God is love!" Jesus came to earth so that we could see what God looks like. The Church, as the Bride of Christ, must learn to walk in love. By doing so we will develop all the fruits of the Spirit.
Joan E. Mathias