As we explore the specific Fruit of the Spirit, I must emphasize their order in scripture. As we all things in His Word, even the order in which the fruit are listed has purpose. Starting with love communicates the foundational truth that God is love. Jesus’s ministry, life, death, resurrection, etc. all center around His love. The Good News (or Gospel) is all about love. Love is the answer. Love is a choice. Love is a response.
While this sounds simple and redundant for those of us who’ve been going to church for years, let’s not miss the power of this love! Especially since ‘love’ is such an overused word! We love our new shoes, our friend, our children, our husband, and our God. So for clarity, let’s talk about the different types of love.
We have what we call ‘friend love’ or ‘PHILOS’. Yes, this is how Philadelphia got its name as the ‘city of brotherly love’. You’ll see this kind of love when reading about the churches in Act 2 and in Galations 6:10 – ‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.’
Then there is ‘romantic love’ or ‘EROS’. This is a little deeper, more intimate love that can be expressed physically, mentally, and emotionally. God’s design for this kind of love allows marriage to b the closest thing we have on earth to the spiritual relationship of Jesus and His church. Of course since marriage unites to imperfect, sinful people, it’s super messy, and I’m begging you not to compare your husband to Jesus! But if we approach this ‘EROS’ love through a lens of holy adoration, intimacy, forgiveness, and service, the result can be quite beautiful with the help of Christ and the Holy Spirit! My husband and I find benefit in a weekly email from the Gottman Institute – click here to sign up!
One unique aspect of ‘EROS’ is the gift of physical intimacy. I realize this is a hot topic and one that can stir up a lot of pain and shame. Yet I pray regardless of your past, your future is filled with beauty and life in the bedroom. And I pray the Lord brings restoration and intimacy into your marriage. I think this quote and prayer are from Beth Moore’s study, but don’t quote me. 😉
There’s plenty of baggage even within the church about sex and marriage. Pleasing your husband can often be presented as a wife’s duty rather than a joy. I’ve been there and I’m guessing many of you have as well. Yet it breaks my heart how the enemy uses our culture, friendships, and even abuse to distort the gift God intended for sex. So I’m praying with you for freedom in the bedroom! And if you want to spice things up, certain barre moves make for a fun connection! I pray barre expands your confidence and physical intimacy! Barre for the Bedroom, anyone? (Yes, I went there . . . I’d rather we talk about sex in biblical community instead of getting our knowledge from movies or social media.)
Now to the best kind – AGAPE love. This is the love of God. The 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. The love WE ARE INCAPABLE OF! Our action is to respond to this type of amazing love! ‘Agape is expressed through me when I surrender to the empowerment and temperament of the Holy Spirit.’ – Beth Moore. This is sacrificial love . . . ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice’. (Romans 12:1) ‘Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your strength, and ALL your mind. [Then] love your neighbor as yourself!’ (Matthew 22:37-39) I added the ‘then’ because pure love is an overflow of His love in us!
We often discuss love in terms of giving, serving, helping, showing love to others. But I’m learning how we RECEIVE love may be even more valuable than how we GIVE love. Let’s stop to answer two important questions:
- Do you believe your husband loves you with an ‘EROS’ kind of love?
- Do you believe your God love you with an ‘AGAPE’ kind of love?
Because the truth is, if you can’t answer ‘yes’ to these, freedom in Christ is going to be fleeting. I’m guessing your husband doesn’t tell you he loves you constantly nor does he compliment your effort, body, love, etc daily. So why do we fill in the gaps or create a story in our heads that he must then not appreciate me, must not be attracted to me, or must not love me. What if we daily loved our husbands in a way that we fully believed they loved us, just as we are today, with an EROS kind of love.
On that same note, why do we struggle to accept and live in God’s unconditional, abundant, everlasting love? Why do we cling to shame, hang on to hurt, attempt to control, give grace to others but not ourselves, strive to follow all the ‘rules of righteousness’, and keep score of our behavior, our husband’s, and others? We have a tough time believing in this agape love because God’s love surpasses knowledge and understanding (Eph 3:19). But just as love is a choice, we just chose to believe in love! So let’s grab hold of faith, believe God’s telling the truth, trust Him in love, and move forward with His Spirit of Love filling our hearts, souls, strength, and minds.
Lord, consume us with your love. Reveal its power in this season and allow us to grow and thrive like never before. Free us from our own insecurities, pain, abuse, control, etc that hinder Your love! Fill us with your love so we overflow and produce abundant fruit bearing Your name!
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. . . And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. . . Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. – I John 4:11-12, 16, 19 NIV