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Lesson 2: The Fruit of the Spirit is Love *

Introduction: A song says "love is all around." If true, it sounds wonderful, right? Imagine a world in which every one showed a loving attitude to you. Love is a top priority in the Kingdom of God. But, what it means, and how we show love are difficult issues. Not difficult because God is less than plain on the subject, but difficult because of our selfish hearts. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about the connection between the power of the Holy Spirit in us and love!

  1. Love For God

    1. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Do you love God?

      1. Is this the same as loving your spouse? Your children? Your dog? Ice cream?

      2. Notice that the text says to love "with all your heart" and "all your soul" and "all your strength." Are these different instructions? If so, what does this say about the nature of love? (They are different. Barnes' Notes suggests that "heart" refers to our understanding, "soul" refers to our will and "strength" refers to our energy.)

        1. Let's break this down to better understand God's command. What do you think it means, as a practical matter, to love God with your understanding? (I know that God created me and died for me and I have gratitude and affection for Him because of that sacrifice.)

          1. Do you have that kind of love towards God?

        2. What does it mean to love God with your energy? (It means that I spend my time and effort advancing God's kingdom.)

          1. Do you have that kind of love towards God?

        3. What does it mean, as a practical matter, to love God with your will? (It means the natural desire of my heart.)

          1. Do you have that kind of love towards God?

            1. Is this the most difficult of these three "do you have that kind of love" questions? (Yes. You can intellectually love, and you can put in the time and effort, but desire is not something you can control.)

  1. Love for Humans

    1. Read Matthew 22:37-40. Love for God is equated with love for those we know (God says,"the second is like it"). How well would you do on answering the series of questions I just asked you about God, if they applied instead to your neighbor?

      1. Do you have an intellectual, physical (meaning devoting time and effort) and emotional (meaning natural desire) love towards those you know?

        1. Now think about the person you know who irritates you the most. How about applying these questions to that person?

    2. Read Matthew 7:12. If I do this, have I satisfied all three levels of my love obligation to others? (If so, I feel a lot better because I was struggling with the last question. I don't have to like someone to treat them fairly.)

    3. Re-read Matthew 22:39. Is this different than Matthew 7:12?

      1. Do both of these texts use the standard "What would I do for myself?"

  2. Holy Spirit Time

    1. Let's give this some practical application. Each week I send the lesson to a list of over twenty people who agreed to translate it into another language. I don't pay any of them, but I don't get paid for writing this lesson. Can I say that I love my translators, as opposed to stealing their time, because none of us get paid?

      1. I've had some of my translators mention that they needed a new (or better) computer. I just bought a new computer for my home. I have never bought (or even helped to buy) a computer for a translator. Is that not proof that I do not love them like I love myself? And, the translators are more than just my neighbor, they are co-laborers! (It would be hard, every time I needed a new computer, to have to buy twenty computers.)

      2. Let's use Bill Gates as a point of comparison. Could Bill afford to buy me a new computer? Of course, he could afford to buy me a new car, house or airplane. Since I love myself, but do not expect Bill to buy me anything that I might need, can I now say that I love others as much as myself when I fail to buy others things they need?

        1. Does the fact that I do not expect anything from Bill let me off the hook in terms of others expecting things from me?

      3. From the texts we have studied, we know that God expects us to love Him as much as we love other humans. If the love for God is supposed to be equal to our self-love, why does God historically only require ( Malachi 3:8-10)ten percent and we get to keep ninety percent?

        1. Isn't an equal split more representative of loving God as much as we love ourselves? If we throw our neighbors into this equation, would it mean we all got a third of my stuff?

    1. When I ask myself the series of questions we just discussed, I realize that I have both an attitude problem about love and a concern that I don't even understand exactly what God has in mind (even though the "as yourself" rule seems pretty clear). Read Galatians 5:22-23. What is the cure for our wrong attitudes and understandings about love? (Having the Holy Spirit in our life. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit.)

      1. If love is a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, does that clear up our concern about not having a natural desire to love others, including a concern about a natural love for God? (It shows us where to go to obtain something that we cannot obtain through hard work and determination.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Are Jesus and Paul in agreement on the importance of love? (Jesus says everything hangs on it and Paul says other good works and spiritual powers do not matter without it.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4. Consider each of those character traits and whether they exist in your life?

      1. Do these exist when you drive your car?

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:5. Consider each of those character traits and whether they exist in your life? (If you are like me, you probably said "mostly no" to the traits in verse 4, but did a little better with the traits mentioned in verse 5.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 13:6-7. I'm an optimist, and my family teases me about my frequent use of the phrase "I hope not" when someone says something negative. How about you? Are you hopeful? (After admitting all of these bad things about myself, I've got to mention something good!)

      1. What about the issue of "delighting" in evil? There is some evil that all of us hate, but is there some evil that you like? An evil that takes advantage of others? Or, harms others?

    6. This is not "beat yourself up" week, but if you are honest, from the very beginning of this study of love we can see that when we use God's definition of love, we fall far short of the love standard that God has set for us. Indeed, we are not completely clear (or do not want to be clear) on what He requires.

      1. Is the Holy Spirit a complete way out of this?

      2. Or, is this high standard simply the motivation to declare "I'm saved by grace alone?" (Read 1 Corinthians 14:1. Being saved by grace does not give us a pass on the obligation to love. Paul is the strongest advocate of righteousness by faith alone, yet he instructs every one of us to "follow the way of love.")

      3. What does the use of the term "follow" suggest to us about the work of the Holy Spirit in our life when it comes to love? (That this is a progressive work. Attaining the love goal that God has set before us, is a process that results from the power of the Holy Spirit working out "fruit" in our life.)

    7. Friend, are you a quart low on love? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart today and give you a mind that understand's God's love goal for us and a heart that reaches towards that goal?

  1. Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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