But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
There is the great machine of life, standing ready in all its beauty and power, with its wide open senses, its advising mind, its warning conscience, its governing will; with the mighty flood of spiritual power pouring into it from above; and its first fruit, the subtle influence which pervades it, the direction given to it, is love. For that Holy Spirit of order, as He pours His influence into us, has a definite work for our energy to spend itself upon, amidst all the vast and complicated machinery of the world; and love is the initial, the foundation motive, which is to start our force, our passions, our motives, our imagination, our intellect, our strength, into their proper groove amidst the great labyrinth-scheme of the Providential working of God. For love means, without any attempt at a definition, a giving out of self to God, to Man, to Nature.We live by admiration, hope, and love.And love secures that all this splendid machinery and endowment of strength shall be used for the right objects; not for self-advantage or self-display, not for rivalry, or in the interests of pride; but that it shall be at the disposal of God, the disposal of man, and of the world, for good; and this not by an effort, not by a forced resolution of surly resignation, but in a bright spirit of instinctive willingness. Yes, there is no doubt about it; if we are spiritual; the first fruit of the Spirit will be love. One glance will be sufficient to show us the importance of love as a motive principle, the strength of this loving nature becoming fulfilled with the growing fruit of the Spirit. It is very hard to do God's will: it is harder still sometimes to love it. We talk in a helpless way of resignation, as we feel ourselves tossed up and down, and whirled hither and thither in the irresistible currents of uncontrollable force. But the spiritual man wants something more than resignation to circumstances which he cannot control; he wants love, not to wish them otherwise — a far higher step. Love is just that spirit in which a man offers him. self entirely to God. "O God, I offer myself wholly to Thee, and then to whatsoever work Thou givest me to do." And equally true is it if we look towards our fellow-men, that love is a foundation virtue. Ah! love throws open wide all those points of contact with our friend and our neighbour, that is with the world: and does it not need love? "Nothing but the infinite pity is sufficient for the infinite pathos of human life." And the Spirit pours into the great machinery of our being, which finds it only too easy to be rough and hard, the germ of that "infinite pity" in His gift of love. "Love your enemies." Love is not a weak word, or a weak emotion, and never can be. Love knows how to send for its two body-guards, resentment and justice, and to prevent any enfeebling of its strength or diminishing of its power. There is no doubt whatever that love of our enemies, and nothing short of it, is required of us. And further, perhaps we may believe that this Love will develop itself within us, when our powers are working rightly under the influence of the Holy Spirit. And perhaps this principle of love should be carried further still. Perhaps our Master would have us feel that we ought to move amidst what we call Nature with a loving tread, as a mediator between Him and the lower creation, to discover, to develop, and mature all the varied resources of the world, and to try, as much as in us lies, to roll away some of that failure (ματαιότης), which has passed through from us to them, who share in the sorrows of the Fall, as they also share in the hope of Redemption. Yes; surely this love, this fruit of the Spirit, will carry us as far as this. Let us try now and see one or two characteristics of love, one or two signs of its indwelling, abiding presence. First of all love will be THOUGHTFUL. "If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." How much thoughtfulness may we.trace in the love of God! "God so loved us." There is all the thoughtfulness which lies around our creation, the beauty of the world we live in, the wonderful adaptation of our life, the daily tenderness and forethought of God, who clothes the lily, who feeds the ravens, and marks the fall of the sparrow to the ground, who bids us cast out our cares and lay aside anxiety, for He is caring for us, and marking all our needs and wants. Or, look again, if we may say so with reverence, at all the thoughtfulness which lies around our Redemption. Or look once more at the thoughtfulness which surrounds our sanctification. And so, must not our love be equally thoughtful? Must we not try to do all we can to open up life to our fellow-men? Ought we not to be thoughtful in trying to help on all those special works of thoughtful love which are in the world, such as schools, and penitentiaries, and hospitals, and the like? And a second characteristic of love will be SACRIFICE. Love is ready at any moment to sacrifice itself. Think how our Divine Lord and Master gave up His quiet and His retirement, His food and His sleep, at the calls of love. Think how patient He was with the misconception, the ignorance, and the unbelief which He encountered t Ah, yes! It is good for us to think of all the work done out of sight for this hungry, selfish world. It is good for us to think of those who labour in the deep mines of life, that we may be wanned and enlightened, of those who work the hidden machinery, that we may cut the waves more freely, and barter and exchange in the community of social commerce. It is good for us to think of the missionary toiling under the burning sun of Africa, leaving home and kindred and advancement, that he may spread among the heathen "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Wherever we see it, wherever we find it, self-surrender is a beautiful thing; it is the second characteristic of that fruit of the Spirit growing within, which is love. And a third characteristic is surely UNWEARIEDNESS. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Ah, yes! That continual uninterrupted love is hard and difficult to maintain when the child of our love ceases to be interesting; when it is rough and uncouth, and as yet unable to come back to us with any return in its hands. It is difficult to love on in disappointment after disappointment.
(W. C. E. Newbolt.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,