For this week’s Fruits of the Spirit guest blog, Pastor David Verret writes about the spirit of Love. Pastor David is the pastor of community life at Crosspoint Church in St. Louis, Missouri who has been supporting Mercy for over 19 years.

Have you ever enjoyed the beauty of an orchard? As a young boy, one of my favorite adventures was to wander through an apple orchard at harvest time. The fragrance of ripe fruit coupled with the beauty of nature enhanced my appetite and I was never disappointed when I stopped to taste the sweetness of the low-hanging fruit.

While fruit from the tree can provide bountiful blessings to the consumer, a piece of fruit cannot produce itself. Tasty fruit is produced by healthy trees. Each piece of fruit is part of an intricate process of development which includes pollination, fertilization, growth, and ripening.

The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5 uses the word “fruit” to describe the characteristics produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christ-follower. He writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

I do not believe it is by accident that Paul lists love first when he writes about the Holy Spirit fruit. Love is the centerpiece of God’s interaction with humanity. In fact, John the Apostle states that “God is love” and “We love because He first loved us.” The reality of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection reveals love in its truest form. Jesus willingly gave Himself for all not when we were at our best but while we were dead in our sin. This great love reveals God’s heart for us and calls us to live in the same way as His people.

As love is borne in our lives, sweetness results which bless those around us. When Jesus stated that the second greatest commandment was for humans to love others as they love himself or herself, He was instructing humans to seek to live in ways that bring value and benefit to others. Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth described the characteristics of love in this way, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Love’s growth in us will impact how we relate to others and will change us from selfish users to servants.

By describing the Holy Spirit’s work in us as fruit, Paul reminds us that the Fruit of the Spirit is not something that we create through our willpower or good intentions. I have tried to love people in my own strength and found that there are some people that I cannot love without God’s help. In situations where my seemingly well-intentioned plans did not come to fruition, frustration with others has sometimes been my response. My fleshly attempts to be good consistently fail and have on occasion caused me to damage relationships with others because I was unloving. However, like the apple tree which produces apples that provide nourishment to the consumer, our lives filled with the power of the Holy Spirit will produce fruit that impacts the world around us in life-giving ways.

So how do I allow the Holy Spirit to produce love in my life? We look again at Paul’s words in Galatians 5, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Bearing the Holy Spirit’s fruit comes as we walk by the Spirit. Fruit is not something you try and produce to become a Christian; it is something you produce because you are a Christian. In John 15:4–5, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” Thus, we walk “by the Spirit” as we abide in Christ and the result is that Holy Spirit fruit is produced in us.

But this is not simply about God doing all the work in my life. I must make sure I “abide in Him”. That is my responsibility. To “abide” is a verb. It is active. Abiding in Christ is not a feeling or a belief, but something we do. It means to “remain” or “stay” and involves far more than simply believing in a Savior.

There are various ways to abide in Christ, but I like to use the acrostic ABIDE to remind me of what that entails:

A=Absorb God’s Word daily.

B=Be constant in prayer.

I=Invite the Holy Spirit’s work in me.

D=Delight myself in the Lord.

E=Engage in Christ-centered life with others.

When I am abiding in Christ, my proximity to Him and my openness to Him focuses my attention upon Him and this is when the Holy Spirit produces fruit in me. The result is that I treat my wife like she deserves to be treated; my children are not seen as an interruption in my life; my friends are not seen as people who need to serve me, and those I interact with during my day are not intrusions, but people who are made in the Image of God!

So, I can strive in my own power to relate well with those around me, or I can abide in Jesus and allow the Fruit of the Spirit to be borne in my life. The first strategy will only lead to frustration and futility. But, allowing the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in me will lead to relationships where Christ is exalted, and I lovingly connect to people in healthy ways.

Pastor David Verret is the Community Life Pastor of Crosspoint Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He is husband to Ronda Verret and father to Dylan, Dalton and Dawson. He is passionate about people, golf and ice cream. You can find Pastor David and Crosspoint Church on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or their website linked here

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