So, here’s the deal. The “momster” (yes, I am totally using that term I’ve seen floating around social media lately) in me has been making more of an appearance than I would like to admit these days. Lack of patience, lack of joy, lack of peace, lack of kindness, lack of gentleness, lack of self control… I could go on through all of the fruits of the Spirit, but you get my point. Overall, a lack of Jesus! Time neglected with Him results in a lot of ugly gunk showing up in my daily walk. Since I clearly need a refresher course on what it means to live in the Spirit as a mom, I’m revisiting a series of “studies” I wrote a couple of years ago for our moms’ group at church… and sharing them on here for anyone else who wants to join me!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Let’s talk about love…
As we dive into God’s Word together and examine the role of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as moms, we are going to see that it is not by accident that love is the first fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Living a life of love as God intends will evoke the other fruits listed: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
When we think of what love is, many of us immediately think of the thirteenth chapter of the book of I Corinthians- after all, it is widely known as the love chapter. Take a moment now to read that passage. Now let’s look at the connection between the love chapter and the fruit of the Spirit. Take a minute to think about what I Corinthians 13 says about each of the fruits of the Spirit.
By definition, love in and of itself should produce the other fruits that are mentioned in Galatians 5. You cannot live a fruitful life without exhibiting a life of love. But… what does love look like? Here are some of the many characteristics of love found in the greatest love story of all time- God’s word…
- Love is self-sacrificing. Love is a verb. It is something that we choose to do. “They do not love that do not show their love” (Shakespeare). To live a life characterized by love, we must be willing to let go of ourselves and accept the fact that this life is not about us. Of course, speaking mom to mom here, I’m preaching to the choir. Nighttime feedings, dirty diapers, mountains of laundry, kissing boo-boos, playing chauffer, spending that hard-earned money on new shoes and lessons and sports and toys… moms understand giving. But, it’s not just about what we give, but also the attitude with which we give it. Do we ensure that our children know how much we have sacrificed for their sake? Or do we give with such cheerfulness and willingness that they don’t even realize a sacrifice has been made? Love is not about keeping score or playing the martyr. We are called to give selflessly out of love with no ulterior motives.
2 Corinthians 9:7… Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Romans 5:8… But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.
John 15:12-13… My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
2. Love is forgiving. Yes, we are going there. If you love as God loves, you forgive, plain and simple. Yes, it is difficult and even painful at times. Yes, it seems unfair and somewhat foolish by the world’s standards. It involves trust and humility and courage… but it’s worth it. Forgiveness is freedom- we live a life of freedom because He has forgiven us, and when we forgive, we are freed from the chains of anger and resentment and bitterness. And, as the saying goes, we forgive because God has forgiven the unforgivable in us.
Matthew 6:14-15… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Mark 11:25… And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Colossians 3:13… Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Psalm 130:3-4… If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.
3. Love is relentless. In the book of Hosea, we find an unusual love story. Hosea deeply loved his wife, Gomer, and their children. However, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, and Hosea even lost her for some time. Yet Hosea did not give up on Gomer, and he found her and brought her back home. This relationship mirrors the relationship God had with Israel. While Israel turned away from God time and time again, He relentlessly pursued His people… nothing can stop God’s all-pursuing love.
Hosea 3:1… The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
Psalm 23:6… Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 130:7-8… O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
Joel 2:12-13… “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
4. Love is loyal. Throughout the Scriptures we see evidence of the loyalty of real love, the kind of love God intends for us to show one another. The story of Ruth demonstrates love so strong that it withstands the stresses of grief and separation… Despite extremely trying circumstances, Ruth remained fervently loyal to Naomi. The accounts of David display the loyal love between two friends, David and Jonathan. David’s greatest enemy was his best friend’s father, but their friendship refused to be compromised. And in the New Testament, we see John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. John was loyal to the end in declaring Christ’s love… His love for God was so great that He defined God himself as love.
Ruth 1:16-17… But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
I Samuel 20:17… And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
I John 4:8… Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Take some time today to look for more characteristics of love in the Word of God. But beyond just looking, take some time to consider what characteristics of love you’re exhibiting day to day. As women, we spend time each day putting on the right outfit, picking out our favorite shoes, choosing just the right accessories, and applying our make-up (or putting on our face, as my husband calls it). I’m issuing a challenge here… before you step into your closet each day to put on those things that we deem so important, step into the presence of the very definition of Love, our Holy Father, and let Him clothe you in love.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love…