How to Walk in the Spirit
Part 1: Love
Last week we considered what not to do to walk in the Spirit.
Recall, walking in the Spirit is a command that Paul relays in Gal. 5:16.
We discussed that it wasn’t some feeling that one gets, but rather a call to action.
Paul first explains how not to walk in the Spirit by giving us a list of sins that he collectively calls the “works of the flesh.”
But if you are walking in the Spirit, then you are led by the Spirit.
If you are walking in the Spirit, you will be showing the fruit of the Spirit.
What is fruit?
Well, we can find fruit in the produce aisle at the grocery store, right?
Fruit is what is produced from trees, bushes, and vines.
Our fruit is what we produce! The fruit of the Spirit is what the Spirit produces.
In fact, Thayer considers a metaphorical definition of the Greek word for fruit as, “that which originates or comes from something; an effect, result; equivalent to [the Greek word for] work, act, deed: with the genitive of the author [of the Spirit].”
If the Spirit is truly acting in us, if we are walking in that Spirit, led by the Spirit, then we will be showing these traits: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.”
We talked about a lot of these about a year and a half ago when we considered the “Christian graces” in 2 Pet. 1:5-7, and there is a lot of overlap, but these are things we must constantly be working on in our lives!
“But it’s a work of the Spirit!” True, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to work at it! It is, after all, our intentional choice whether or not to walk in that Spirit, isn’t it?
SN: We commonly refer to these as the fruits of the Spirit, but please note the singular use of the word fruit in Gal. 5:22. While we might consider these different traits, they are a package deal when we walk in the Spirit!
And it all starts with love! So this morning, we will focus on love.
Many different words for love in Greek.
Φιλέω, στοργη, ερος, αγαπη.
Αγαπη – affection, goodwill, love, benevolence, brotherly love.
It is not an emotion, but an action.
Consider the works of the flesh we discussed last week.
How many of them are demolished if we have mastered love?
If we love ourselves we will not commit: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, or lewdness.
If we love God we will not be idolatrous or practice sorcery (using drugs or poisons).
If we love others, we will not show hatred, be contentious or jealous, blow up in anger, be ambitious, show dissension, be heretical (or divisive), we won’t be envious or murder, either.
And if we love all of the above, we will not engage in drunkenness or revelries, since (while sinful of themselves), they also lead to other sins.
The law of love (Rom. 13:8-10).
You see, under Christ we are under a law of love.
We have a civil law stating a woman must take care of her child.
So a man comes to a new mother’s home, and says “Are you taking care of your baby like the law says?”
The woman, tenderly holding her baby with a confused look, says, “I don’t need a law to tell me to take care of my baby!”
Why do you suppose that is? Because she loves her baby!
She feeds him, holds him, changes him because she loves him.
So if we truly love others, then we won’t need to worry about harming or neglecting them.
Earlier in Galatians, Paul mentions the the positive side of this.
While in Romans 13, he says that “love does no harm to a neighbor,” here in Galatians he provides the positive to that (Gal. 5:13-14).
“Through love, serve one another!”
While love expressed will prevent us from harming others, it should motivate us to help others as well.
In fact, love will also motivate us to do everything else!
Without love, there is no joy or peace.
Without love, we have no reason to be patient, kind, good, faithful, or gentle.
Without love, why exercise self-control?
So, love motivations us to all these things.
As Paul writes (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Without love, I am nothing, for it is the basis of all that we do.
Last week on Sunday evening we talked about forgiveness, how much God has forgiven us and how we ought to forgive others.
The same is true for love, in fact, such forgiveness stems from our love for them just as God’s love motivates Him to forgive us when we obey His gospel.
Some years ago there was a shabbily dressed boy who trudged several miles through snowy streets.
He was determined to attend a Bible class at this particular church.
When he arrived, he was asked, “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but why did you come to a Bible class so far away? Why not go to one of the churches closer to home?”
He answered simply, “Because you love a fellow over here.”
And that is the point, isn’t it? We need to show love for others.
That love will keep us from harming them and encourage us to help them.
We can do a lot of good for the kingdom of God just doing that.
So let us show that love.
The ultimate example of love is our Lord Jesus.