29 Days of Living Well: BEAR FRUIT - LOVE
22 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.
I often think about the classic 90’s album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, when I think about love. While the album explored many themes of love known and lost, I remember being captivated by the interludes. Before each song and throughout the album, a teacher facilitates a classroom discussion about love, mainly romantic love. Young students give their endless input on love, being in love, and songs about love. But romantic love, or eros, is only one type of love. Usually in a romantic relationships, or even platonic relationships (philia), there is an element of liking the other person, or bonding because of some shared interest. For example, I’ve heard many couples talk about how they’re dating or married to their best friend. These people usually like being around each other for a number of reasons. However, their like, whether romantic (eros) or familial (philia), is not always unconditional.
The word Paul uses for “love” in this passage is “agape” meaning unconditional or simply because someone is human/image bearer of God. Whether or not I like someone is conditional. It’s dependent on how they treat me, how much fun we have together, how well we get along, etc. However, agape love must be selfless. Agape love is love without conditions. This doesn’t mean that love does not confront. James Baldwin said, “The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”
This is what makes agape love unconditional. It is not defined by happiness, compatibility, or people-pleasing - not that being happy or wanting to see others happy are negative desires. Unconditional love, however, is defined by our willingness and ability to serve others in a way that 1) sees them as God sees them and 2) encourages them to look more like Jesus. Unconditional love, how God loves us, does not inspire you to be happy; it urges you to be holy.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
How will you bear fruit today and reflect agape love?