I was pondering the fruit of the Spirit and found it funny that the list begins with love and ends with self control. Jesus emphasizes love as the center of His life, His motivation, and His reason for coming to this Earth. Ultimately, He loved us so much that He gave himself upon the cross (John 3:16). Yet today, we are challenged to love.
Why is the idea to love so foreign? I often find myself trying be intentional about loving those around me, especially when it comes to my family. Jesus seemed to exhibit a life in which love was just ingrained in His DNA. People were drawn to Him (John 4:1-42) and He comforted them (John 8:1-11). People were challenged by the way He chose to live (Matthew 9:19-17), and yet they wanted more.
Love was second nature to Him. As we look at the fruit of the Spirit, there seems to be a connecting thread that begins with love and ends with self control. See, Jesus never appeared to be controlled by His emotions (John 16:12) or fears (Matthew 26:39). He spoke of disappointment (Matthew 17:17), heartache (Matthew 11:28-30), and concern (Mark 1:41). His self control compelled Him to the Father’s will and the ultimate divine plan. The connection Jesus had that we now embody was the Holy Spirit.
The bottom line is that our love for our Father should compel us to love ourselves and others. The Holy Spirit, God on the inside, then empowers us to practice self control. Let’s face it. No one enjoys being hurt, betrayed, or persecuted. However, God calls us to love, and He equips us with the Holy Spirit to live for love daily. Jesus showed us how to love by Himself becoming an example in this world. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit keeps us connected to the fountain that brings heaven to Earth today.
Start with love. Love comes from the inside out. Stay tuned in to the Holy Spirit. It will require discipline, intention, and persistence. As your eyes are opened to God’s ways, the rivers of living water will begin to flow out of you. The more self control you practice, the easier it will become to love.