I’ve been so thankful to my delightful friends – Christine, Ashley, April, Lisa, and Emmy, who contributed their beautiful, strong, honest voices to these pages and brought more wisdom than I ever could.
I knew this one was coming, the last post of the series. I’ve tried to come up with someone else to take this last post off my shoulders, but I knew God wouldn’t let me get out of it that easily. I have not been in the mood to write about love. At all.
But anyways, here it goes.
As I’ve read the past posts on the other fruit of the spirit – Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control – I couldn’t help but notice that Love is inseparable from ANY of these ideas.
The presence of love in our lives, within us, and coming from God, who doesn’t mess around when it comes to loving fully and wholly, perpetuates these fruits we’ve been talking about. Love brings about joy and peace, patience and kindness, goodness and faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Love is the underlying truth, it is the foundation, the beginning and the end, and without it, none of these things are possible.
In fact, Scripture elaborates on that precise idea in one of the most-read passages of all time, where it says,
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love,
I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries
and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr,
but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do,
I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Unless I start and end with love, there’s no way to add patience or joy or self-control to my life, at least not in a genuine way. I deeply desire to be kind and gentle and gracious, but the way that I most want to “make that happen” is by my own white-knuckled, breath-holding efforts. And yet, one of the most consistently challenging and humbling truths about following God is how He constantly whispers to me and all my hard work, “Be still, sweetheart. I don’t need your striving.”
My necessary foundation for love, the way that God commands it, is enough humility to recognize how little I bring to the table with my efforts. And then, it is to admit my neediness and desperate dependence on God constantly and to listen to how He leads me to love people in patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness. It’s an incredibly counter-intuitive process and it keeps me on my toes, and humbled on my knees. It’s so different from how I think things “should be done” that it just must be right.
This isn’t a very comprehensive post, I realize. Love is so very different than I thought it was, and romantic love is a whole other ballgame that I can’t even get into. But I really believe the words of that passage, and that’s what I will end with today: