It has often been said that the "Fruit of the Spirit" listed in Paul's letter to the Galatians is only love. Everything after that--joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control--are simply descriptors of that love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE. (NIV)
While only a few of the terms from the list in Galatians are used, this passage describes what love looks like, and I can see almost all the listed qualities contained herein.
Some would argue that if you ever manifest any of the "negative" aspects listed here, such as getting angry, then you do not have love. I would argue against that concept.
I say, that in the moment you become angry, in the moment you lose hope, in the moment you are rude, you have stepped out of love. The challenge for us as humans who are seeking to grow in love is to recognize those moments for exactly what they are--a failure to love in that moment.
HOWEVER--and this a BIG however--there are some who claim to be loving, but their anger is only a word away; their rudeness only an insult away.
When someone does not extend the quality defined with an increase of quantity, then their claim to love is questionable.
For instance, I know someone who is perceived to be sweet, loving, and kind. Yet the number of people who have been hurt by this one is a rather large group. All they did was dare to offer an opposing opinion, or point out some shortcoming, or make a statement that was taken as an accusation; and this person went after them like a she-bear defending her cubs. It is very difficult to say this person manifests the fruit of the spirit. (I've known this person for a few decades.)
Therefore, what we are talking about--what the apostle Paul is talking about--is a consistent quality to one's life.
How is consistency determined?
When the quality is challenged and is manifested. As I wrote in the article on patience, patience is not necessary when everything is going smoothly, but when nothing is going right. That's when the quality is shown and known to be something that is a part of your character.
Likewise, if you are looking through the eyes of love, you will exercise self-control and be patient when everything is falling apart around you. You will be kind, when treated rudely. You will be gentle when others are forceful. You will maintain peace in chaos.
And, when you have been pushed to your limit, you will manifest your humanity. Then you will go off to your quiet place to ponder the meaning of it all, and come forth with a renewed commitment knowing that LOVE is all you need.
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