Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The life of Christ in you will always produce love. Some have proposed that Paul lists love first as the premier fruit. This may be because of all these virtues, love is the one that defines God. God IS love. The Spirit IS love.
Agape love means to put another person’s needs above your own, simply because of their intrinsic value. It is loving others because of what they are not what they do. This is how God loves us, and how we are to love God.
Fake love often means loving someone because of what they can give back to you, or because of the way it makes you feel. This is love’s counterfeit. Selfish affection, rescuing, attraction, duty, can all be fake versions of love.
The opposite of love is fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Self protection, self promotion, and just plain selfishness all flow from fear and destroy love. Basically everything Paul has told us in Galatians about the flesh and living under the law- these are the opposite of love.
Real love flows from faith. Shallow love is rooted in attachment. In fact it is this kind of love that our Buddhist friends would say leads to sorrow. Attachments are broken and then we are sad. To avoid sorrow, avoid attachment.
But agape love is far beyond attachment. It is rooted in hope and faith. Love without a foundation of hope (knowing that we have a secured, eternal future with God and his love), and faith (trusting this future of love) will collapse on itself. It will have no real strength and bring no real joy. Loving from hope and faith, however, can be true, and pure, and self less. How? Because I know and trust in my future of love- God’s eternal, never ending, abounding love. Now I can love without limits and without fear. With nothing to lose.
“To live is Christ” is to love. It is knowing that you have the unconditional love of God, not because of what you have done, but simply because of who you are. Your intrinsic value as a child of God makes you lovable, not your efforts or accomplishments. “To live is Christ” is loving others from this freedom from fear. It is putting others’ needs first, because God has met all of your needs in Christ.
Is your love simply attachment or reciprocity- loving others only because they love you or make you feel good? Has God’s love for you gotten so deep into your mind and heart that it is producing Christ’s love through your life? Where are you seeing this fruit grow in your life? Where do you see yourself giving your life for others?