Taking Off That Old Self — Putting On Love

Here at Huntington we have started our Ladies’ Bible Class up again. We usually follow the school calendar and meet every other week. Tonight is our third class. We are blessed with at least 3 (and sometimes more) women here that are willing, eager and able to teach the class so none of us feel over burdened by it. This year we are studying Heading For Harvest by Joyce Jamerson. It is a study of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. Tonight, I get to teach. This is my lesson.

Lesson Three and Four are both about Love. That is appropriate because: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love — 1 John 4:8. Colossians 3 tells us that love should come above all the other wonderful traits Paul lists. Love is the foundation of it all.

The first thing to note in our lessons is an observation about Paul’s lists. He was a list writer and I would imagine a list keeper. I am too. My family gets a little annoyed at times when I start making a list — especially if it is a chore list. Usually, my lists are mere suggestions. I don’t really intend to get everything done that is on one of these lists. I’m usually content if 3/4ths of the items listed are completed. At least more was done today than was done the day before but there is always another day to complete the rest. Now my grocery shopping lists are a different matter. If it’s on the list — I need it. It better make it home or something will be missing from our meals that week.

Paul’s lists are more like the grocery shopping list than the chore list. His lists are things that must be found inside a Christian or, in the case of the works of the flesh found earlier in Galatians 5, things that must not be found in a Christian. There is nothing that can be left out of Paul’s lists.

Let’s take a brief look at 4 of Paul’s lists of character traits we are expected to have:

Galatians 5:22-23 Philippians 4:8 Colossian 3:12-16
Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-control
True
Honorable
Right
Pure
Lovely
Good Repute
Compassion
Kindness
Humility
Gentleness
Patience
Bearing with one another
Forgiving each other

1 Corinthians 13

Patient
Kind
Not Jealous
Does not brag
Not arrogant
Does not act unbecomingly
Does not seek its own
Not provoked
Does not take into account a wrong suffered
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Rejoices with the truth
Bears all things
Believes all things
Hopes all things
Endures all things

Even though the comparison was made with Paul’s lists and a grocery list, they are different as well. A grocery list can be finished, put away and forgotten about. Paul’s lists need to be kept close to our heart and nurtured so that the precious fruit that has grown doesn’t die away.

Many of the things in these lists overlap. For Paul to have written them in at least 4 different letters to 4 different groups of Christians they must be pretty important. They must have been things that were lacking in these earlier Christians. Looks like the early Christians weren’t all that different from us. Paul even had to tell the Galatians not to devour one another. Can you imagine Christians treating each other so badly? Yes, we can. We’ve all seen it. We are no different from the Galatians.

Galatians 5:13-16: “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”

Love is the root of the fruit of the Spirit. Without love none of the other fruit will mean anything. A person may exhibit wonderful self-control but if he doesn’t also have love, the self-control is useless — even annoying as described in 1 Corinthians 13. Love can be faked. Someone can pretend to love you. A person can be nice to you, greet you “in the market place”, make a show of friendship but eventually the truth will come out that there is no love there. How? That person’s actions. True love is deeper than surface pleasantries.

  • True love looks for what will benefit the other person — even if that person is hard to love.
  • True love looks on ways to improve itself, not pick at faults of someone else.
  • True love thinks about what can be done for others.
  • True love brings joy through service.
  • Notice all the verbs in that list: looks, thinks, brings. Love is an action word. Many more verbs could be added and should be added to this list.

    Are you finding it difficult to show true love to someone?

  • Pray about it, pray for that person.
  • Teach someone about God
  • Serve someone else
  • When you’re doing these things, there isn’t anytime to think negative about someone else. Just as Galatians 5:16 tells us: When we walk in the Spirit, we don’t have time for the works of the flesh. The Pharisees lacked true love. They were more concerned about being right, about following all the rules but they did not spend time developing the fruits of humility, kindness, and love. They spent more time judging others and putting themselves above others.

    Do you know someone that has overcome the temptation to do the works of the flesh? Relate story of Chris and how he has overcome temptations — he was a drinker, casual Christian, good ‘ole boy, put friends before family, not a leader of his family. He is now a faithful Christian, leader of his family. striving to learn more about God through studying,

    What are some things women can do to exhibit true love for others? It’s more than cleaning the building and folding bulletins. Somewhere along the line many of us got the idea that women were not expected to be very spiritual. It is true that the husband is to be spiritual leader of the family, that the husband has the responsibility to train his children, that the husband is the head of the household but that does not excuse the wife from growing spiritually. What can women do?

  • Study the Word for themselves and with others
  • Supply the needs of others — clothing, food, help with household chores and family
  • Be patient with those that are struggling spiritually
  • Dare to be different — don’t join in with the gang mentality when gossip is going on
  • Exactly what is love? Our word for love means lots of different things depending on the context. The Greeks had 4 different words that have been translated love.

    • Eros (sexual love)
    • Phileo (close friendship)
    • Storge (love of family)
    • Agape (Wants the best for others)

    Agape love is the love used in the fruit of the Spirit. Someone that shows agape love makes every effort to see to it the other person’s needs are taken care. The other person’s interest become important to someone showing agape love. Even if that other person does not return the love or prove himself lovable. This means we are to love our enemies. Jesus said in Luke 6:27-33:

    “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what cred it is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

    What does this tell us about about how we treat each other and those outside the body of Christ? It’s nice to have a group of friends (or even our family) that we feel comfortable with. People we can go to when we need help or want to share a joy or tribulation. We need to be careful that by forming a tight knit group of friends or family that we aren’t excluding someone that needs us. We need to step out of our comfort zone and ensure that everyone in our congregation feels loved and feels like they belong. Too many times people fall through the cracks and their brothers and sisters in Christ wonder what happened to them. Invite someone different to your home for a meal. Make sure that you personally get up and go talk to someone you don’t normally visit with. Call someone during the week that you haven’t ever called before.

    How does love affect the marriage relationship? Our society bases its whole idea of marriage on eros (sexual love). When the spark is gone, it’s time to move on. That’s not what the Bible teaches. Ephesians 5:25-33 teaches that men are to agape their wives — do what is best for them. Sometimes those tender feelings dissipate. It could be for a number of reasons but whatever the reason, agape love is commanded — not suggested. Titus 2:4 teaches the wife to phileo (close friendship) her husband — have tender affection for him, respect him, honor him. God did not ask us to do something that goes against our nature. Women are “feelers”. He requires the wife to have affection for her husband. Men are “doers”. He requires men to do what is best for their wives.

    The more agape we show towards others, the easier it will be to show it again. It will also be thrown “right back at ya”. The benefits of the one showing agape will be numerous and the benefits of the one that is being shown agape are numerous. It reminds me of the song I used to sing when I was young:

    Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away
    Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.
    Love is like a shining penny.
    Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
    Give it away and you’ll have plenty
    You’ll end up having more.

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