It’s so easy to witness, yet so difficult to express: the mother of all virtues, the “greatest of these.”
It’s an emotion, an action, a word.
It can’t be contained by anyone’s definition, or whittled down to a sole meaning. So what is this it?
One of my favorite times of the year is now: the week of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. For me, it’s a time filled with incredible hope, joy, and especially love. This April, I’ve been studying the virtue of love as a fruit of the Spirit – in other words, how are the different ways I can express Godly love to those around me? What does it mean to love others as God loves me? Love is clearly complex, but I’ve lately become so aware of the many nuances surrounding it. Its sheer complexity shocked me, such that one morning a few days ago, I thought to myself, There’s just no way I can fully understand it! Which, in hindsight, is just as well – if God is love (1 John 4:8), and there’s no way for our human minds to ever completely understand God, then it makes sense that it can be a doozy to wrap our minds around the concept of love. But even so, as I studied this virtue over the past two weeks, I’ve pondered its meaning for my life: no one wears a sign around their neck saying, “Hey! I love people!” So what is it, and how exactly can it be expressed, beyond simply telling someone?
Well, love is forgiveness – a way of showing we love our neighbors as ourselves. Love is encouragement, where our words and actions bring someone up rather than down. Love is constant companionship with the Holy Spirit, who guides us each day whether we’re aware or not. Love is prayer, reaching out and supporting family in Christ and those who don’t yet know Him.
Love is unity, friendship, and hospitality.
Love is being a faithful servant, even when the days are tough, because God is our strength and provision. Love is unending grace, because no matter what, God holds us in His arms as His children, whispering words of wisdom and peace as we follow Him. Love is sincerity and honesty – not brash rudeness, but rather seeing others as God sees us, and highlighting that potential in others. Love is caring for others in the same way we care for ourselves – easier said than done, but it’s using the insight and planning we use in our own lives as we consider others and their needs. Love is yielding to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, so that kindness, calmness, patience, and forgiveness prevail in our interactions with others rather than anxiety, aggression, or revenge. Love is commitment, and it’s faithfulness. And these meanings of love are just snippets of what I’ve learned in the first twelve days of my study.
It’s so much more than I’ve described, and I uncover more on this fruit of the Spirit each day. Love is beautiful, and I’m so thankful that Jesus chose to sacrifice His life for our sins. Palm Sunday intrigues me because the same people who laid palm branches on the ground for Jesus’ donkey to walk on, lauding him as he rode into Jerusalem, were the same ones yelling for His crucifixion not even a week later. How flabbergasting is it that He still died for each and every one of those people? And then rose again on the third day, bringing unspeakable hope into the world?
And I know Your love has won it all,
You took the fall To embrace my sorrows
I know You took the fight, You came and died but the grave was borrowed
I know You stood again, So I can stand with a life to follow
In the light of Your name