Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Part 3)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

The First Fruit: Love (Continued...)

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)

Change your mind and change your heart. If you cannot think loving thoughts toward another, or toward yourself, you will not be able to experience the change of heart that allows you to experience the kind of agape love that is a fruit of the spirit.

So how do we change our mind and what do we think on when we see others?

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

When we encounter a gruff person, someone who is less than easy to love, our usual reaction is to protect ourselves from the harshness of the other person. We'll close up and look out for our own interests instead of looking at the other person's. Chances are the harder that person is to love, the more they need it. Chances are that their own gruffness is caused primarily because that person is closing up and using those spikes to protect their own, fragile heart. When someone is angry or hard to get along with, always try to find the reason way.

In order to do that, we have to stop looking out for our own interests and look out for the interest of the other person. Look beyond their outward appearance and find out what they need. Love then becomes an action as we consider prayerfully how to fulfill it.

What if, while we are trying to fulfill that gruff person's need, they abuse us or mistreat us?

If we are grafted in Jesus the way that we are supposed to be, then we find our joy and our comfort in Him. He fulfills our needs to the point of overflowing. And that overflow is supposed to splash on those around us. If our lives are full of Jesus, then we do not need to be filled by anyone else. So what this person does to us or their response to our attempts at filling their needs should not be a total surprise.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:6)

In order to be wise and cunning, we should pray from the start that the reaction of the person is revealed to us so that there aren't any surprises. And if we expect no love in return, we will not be disappointed, either. It's hard to give and get nothing in return, but remember that we are working toward Heaven, and find the source of our strength in Him.

So to change our mind about someone, we need to look past their faults and see their needs. And then when we fulfill their needs, we need to look for no reward, and no thanks. Through these changes of mind, we can begin to see what it's like to love someone who we previously thought was unloveable. And our love might be just what an unloveable person needs in order to change their mind, as well--though that shouldn't be our goal. Today, I pray that we make our goal to change ourselves and to change our minds so that we can feel the love of God toward others, and let the overflow splash upon them.