If we begin to think about what "fruit" might just be present in our lives, one of the first ones which may come to mind is "love". I had to "Google" how many times "love" appeared in the Bible, figuring it was probably somewhere in the thousands, right? You might be surprised to know that the King James Bible has the word "love" printed only 314 times - a whole 594 times if you throw in a smattering of lovest, loveth, loving, and lovingkindness. As important as this "fruit" is, I thought it would likely be far more "cited" in the scriptures. Yet, love is probably the most significant of the fruit we can bear in life - as all the rest of the fruit which may become apparent are really founded on the basis of love. Don't believe me? Try being long-suffering if you have no foundation of love in the relationship. Try finding joy in difficult circumstances if love is not the basis of what holds your head up and gives you hope. The other fruit simply are built upon this foundation of love.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 27:37-40 MSG)
Love is the outflow of the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Apart from the Holy Spirit's activity in my life, the choices I'd make would be pretty self-centered and self-seeking. Let him into the mix and the choices I make are tempered by his presence - they tend to shift from what pleases just me and they take into consideration what might affect another. Love gives evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives - it is the outflow of his having taken up residence! We can do a whole lot of things to "appear" to have this thing called "love" evident in our lives, but when it is the "real deal", worked into the fibers of our being by the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing which speaks louder, nor clearer to those around us of God's activity within.
The sad part of life comes in realizing how many "places" people go to look for "love". In society today, people seek love in relationships - many failing to find what they pursue because no man or woman is meant to bring this "fruit" into our lives. People think loves come from parents - so if we don't feel "loved", it must be our parent's fault. Yeah, they have a responsibility to be good role models for us, but parents are just people like us - they get things wrong, have some pretty mixed up priorities, and sometimes just don't get this thing we call "love" very well connected in families. Truth is - we all fall way short of "love" until the Holy Spirit begins to bring forth the fruit of love in our lives. No one has it all together apart from his action within - plain and simple.
Over the past couple of days, I have spoken much about what takes root in our lives. If we don't look at the root, we cannot impact the fruit. Things which get rooted sometimes don't belong. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to begin this uprooting process, but it is also his work to begin to lay down the seed which will take root into the "fruit" we call love. Does the sprout of a seed look for all it needs to its growth "under the soil" or inward? No, it sends a shoot to the surface, to break free of the confines of the darkness of the soil into the light of day. Why? Light brings resources it did not have when it remained buried under the soil. Love is kind of like this in our lives, too. It is planted there as a tiny seed by the Holy Spirit. It begins to germinate within, changing into something which no longer resembles the seed - sending out roots and this little shoot. The shoot of love seeks light - when it finds it, it begins the growth of exponential magnitude. Love is meant to be brought into the light - so it can grow and multiply.
Love is first of all "self-seeking". Let me explain. We don't embrace what we don't think will benefit us in some way - even the bad stuff we embrace in life we think has some benefit to us, right? We "seek" love because we have a space in our lives where love belongs. We have an emptiness which yearns to be filled. Seek it in the right place and your "love tank" will be filled with the best love possible - the love of God. Seek it in all the wrong places, and your tank will constantly return to empty! God doesn't mind that our need to love is a little self-seeking at first. He makes us this way so we will desire to be filled with all which produces life and godliness. He just hopes we will use this desire to be "filled" to turn to him for the filling! But...God doesn't want us to remain "self-seeking" forever - he wants us to begin to allow his love to grow within, breaking through into the light of his grace and presence, until we one day begin to recognize what he is "growing within" is meant to touch the world around us.
Love is really an important "fruit" with the capacity to "fill us up" and to "spill over" into the lives of many we touch. Maybe it is time for us to begin to ask ourselves if there is evidence of the Holy Spirit's activity in our lives. If not, it may just be time to allow a little uprooting, replanting, and "light-seeking" to encourage the growth of love from your life. Just sayin!