Fruit of the Spirit!
Fruit of the Spirit- Love.
A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, tha tyou also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
John 13:34-35

What do you think of when you hear the word love? What does it mean to love someone or something?

The scriptures give us many definitions and descriptions of what it means to truly love someone.
In I Corinthians 13:4-8, love is described as this:

1 Cor. 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is the only thing that will remain in eternity. Faith and hope will no longer be needed because the object of our faith, Jesus Christ, will be there with us. We will no longer need hope because our hope of eternal life will be a reality. But love never dies.

The kind of love described here is selfless, not "showy." It is not about the size of the bouquet of flowers or the cost of a gift, instead it is the person showing love by putting the needs and wants of other in front of or instead of their own needs and wants.

How important is love? Love is essential to all things that are good.
How long does true love last? This love is ever lasting/ eternal. It does not go away when someone angers you.

In John 14:21, Christ asks His disciples to show their love to God in the following way:
He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Keeping the commandments is showing love to God. In this passage, love is obedience. We see a similarity to many of our personal relationships. For example, obeying our parents is a sign of our love for them.

Who does Christ call us to love? Luke 6:35 tells us,
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.Why do you think He asks us to do this?"

Christ calls us to love our enemies. He explains that anyone can love those who are easy to love, but to love those who are not easy to love is true love (the kind of love God shows to us even though we are not always obedient and focused on Him)

But what is love? God is love. Jesus Christ is love incarnate. The Gospel gives us many examples of Christ's love. He performed many miracles healing the blind, sick, and the paralyzed. Shortly before he was crucified, Christ gave his disciples a new commandment, "That you _love one another, as I have loved_ you…By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have __love_ for one another." (John 13:34-35) Christ gave his disciples a very difficult task! He loves us so much that He gave His life so that we can enter the kingdom of heaven.

Unlike the temporary and flashy love of our society, Christ calls us to love each other as He loves us….by being quiet and unselfish, obedient, and sacrificial (not necessarily in flesh, but by giving up the things that matter to us in the name of loving others). It's a tall task, but let's talk about ways to live up to the challenge:

Ways to "walk in the Spirit":
Think about the definitions of love you have gathered from the Scriptures and Christ's life.
-Love is quiet and does not draw attention to itself.
-Love is eternal and lasts forever.
-Love is truly obedient to others.
-Love means putting the needs and wants of others before what we want.

Brainstorm a list of people or ways that you could nurture the seed of love in you.

Quotes in Scripture on Love
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 15:13 Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.

Quotes from the Church Fathers

*Faith is the beginning of love; the end of love is knowledge of God. "Instructions to Cenobites and Others", Abba Evagrius, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 115 - 116.

*God is love. So he who wishes to define this tries with bleary eyes to measure the sand in the ocean. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent,"

*He who has love in Christ must observe the commandments of Christ. The binding power of the love of God - who is able to set it forth? The radiance of His beauty - who can voice it to satisfaction? The sublimity to which love leads up is unutterable. Love unites us with God, love covers a multitude of sins; love endures everything, is long-suffering to the last; there is nothing vulgar, nothing conceited, in love; love creates no schism; love does not quarrel; love preserves perfect harmony. In love all the elect of God reached perfection, apart from love nothing is pleasing to God. In love the Master took us to Himself. Because of the love which He felt for us, Jesus Christ Our Lord gave His Blood for us by the will of God, His Body for our bodies, and His soul for our souls. St. Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians

*Such is the power of love: it embraces, and unites, and fastens together not only those who are present and near, and visible, but also those who are distant. And neither time, not separation in space, nor anything else of that kind, can break up and divide in pieces the affection of the soul. St. John Chrysostom

*If the face of a loved one clearly and completely changes us, and makes us cheerful, gay and carefree, what will the Face of the Lord do when He makes His Presence felt invisibly in a pure soul? St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent,"

*Knowledge which is imbued with life (as opposed to abstract knowledge) can in no wise be confined to the intellect: there must be a real union with the act of Being. This is achieved through love: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart...and with all thy mind' (Matt. 22:37). The commandment bids us love.

*Therefore love is not something given to us: it must be acquired by an effort made of our own free will. The injunction is addressed first to the heart as the spiritual center of the individual. Mind is only one of the energies of the human I. Love begins in the heart, and the mind is confronted with a new interior event and contemplates Being in the Light of Divine love. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine: Part 2, Chapter 2; SVS Press pg. 117)

*Love is a holy state of soul, disposing it to value knowledge of God above all created things. St. Maximos the Confessor(First Century on Love no. 1)

Icon of Christ the Good Shepherd
by Archangel Icons
Articles of Interest

The Greatest Virtue is Love
from the Orthodx Faith vol.5
By Fr. Thomas Hopko
God is Love
Love of God
Love of Neighbor
A New Commandment
The Gift of Love

St. Valentinus
Feast Day July 6/19