The Fruit of the Ruach is Love
Galatians 5:22a and
First Corinthians 13:1-8a
DIG: What does Paul contrast the fruit of the Ruach with? Why is it important to understand that the word fruit is singular? What can the fruit of the Ruach be compared to? What were the four words for “love” available during the B’rit Chadashah times? What does “agape love” look like? What are the nine fruits of the Ruach? What does the first grouping of fruit point to?
REFLECT: How would you define love in a single sentence? Since all of these nine fruits of the Ruach should be evident in you, which one or two would you say you need to work on the most? Can you fake “agape love?” Explain. Do you ever find yourself to be a clanging cymbal? Why? How can you change that? Who can you show love to this week?
When Paul spoke of walking by the Ruach (to see link click Bv – Walk by the Ruach, and Not the Desires of the Flesh), he was not referring to following after mystical visions and revelations. Instead, he provided a list of attributes that describe a Ruach-led person. Thus, the evidence of the fruit of the Ruach is a changed life. Paul now presents the proper path according to which those faithful to God in His Messiah should walk. The fruit stands in contrast to the deeds of the flesh. The Ruach’s fruit simply shows us the qualities which characterize the Kingdom of God. But, in contrast to the deeds of the flesh, the fruit of the Ruach (singular, like a cluster of grapes) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (5:22a). All of these elements should be a part of your life as you allow the Ruach ha-Kodesh to flow through you.
When we get to the fruit of the Ruach in 5:22 and 23, the first grouping of three, love, joy, and peace are God-ward, everything flows from that, and are all single syllable words; the second grouping of three, patience, kindness, and goodness are man-ward, how we treat each other, and are all two syllable words; and the third grouping of three, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are in-ward, it’s how we become what ADONAI wants us to be, and are all three syllable words.
The fruit of the Ruach is love (Greek: agape). We live in a society that is fascinated with love. In our movies we have love stories. It’s in our books, we have novels and romances. It’s also in our music. It just permeates our society. Yet, with that emphasis it is amazing how perverted and distorted the idea of love has become. It’s like we really don’t know what love means. Now, I would agree that love is a hard word to define. It’s hard to come up with a single sentence definition for love. Someone once said, “Love is a feeling that you feel when you feel a feeling that you’ve never felt before.”
Love a hard word to define. And part of the reason for that is in our culture, we only have one word for love. “I love pizza, I love my country, I love my new pair of shoes.” But, oddly, we use that same word to say, “I love my mother.” How can you love pizza and love your mother in the same way? You can’t. But that wasn’t the case in the B’rit Chadashah. They had at least four words that they could use that were the different elements of love. They are all translated love, but they mean different things. The first was the Greek word eros, which is a physical attraction. A sexual attraction. Our word erotic, comes from the word eros. Interestingly, this word is not used in the B’rit Chadashah. The second Greek word was storge, which describes a family love. It is the love that a brother has for his sister, or a parent has for a child. We love each other because we are family. A third word that was available to them was phileo. It described the love that one friend has for another. It was the kind of love that Jonathan and David had for each other. It was not an eros kind of love, it was a phileo kind of love.
The fourth, and primary, word available for love was agape. Interestingly, that word was not used in Greek literature until the time of the Septuagint, or the Greek New Testament. It is a word that comes from the very heart of YHVH. It is a divine love that flows from ADONAI through us as we become conduits of His love. It is the agape kind of love that God has for us (First John 4:16). God’s love has been poured into the heart of every yielded believer through the Ruach ha-Kodesh who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). Agape love is the form of love that most reflects personal choice, not referring merely to pleasant emotions or good feelings, but to willing, self-sacrifice. But God demonstrates His own agape love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah dies for us (Romans 5:8). Yeshua Messiah is the supreme example of this kind of agape love (First John 3:16). For believers, love is not an option but a command. Walk in agape love, Paul declared: just as Messiah also loved us and gave Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God for a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5:2).
Agape love is the primary fruit of the Ruach. Above all . . . put on agape love, which is the bond of perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14). If you are going to have the other fruit of the Ruach, if they are going to be evident in your life, it starts with agape love. God’s love. Yet, that command cannot be fulfilled apart from the Ruach ha-Kodesh, the source of this and all other expressions of spiritual fruit. It has to flow from God through you. You cannot fake this kind of love on your own. Wouldn’t you like to know what agape love would look like in your life? Let’s look at First Corinthians.
Paul wrote: If I speak with the [languages] of men and of angels but have no love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. The greatest truths spoken in the greatest way fall short if they are not spoken in love. Apart from agape, even one who speaks the truth with supernatural eloquence becomes just so much noise. Paul says that even the gift of prophecy needed to be ministered to in agape. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but have not agape, I am nothing. That spiritual understanding would count for nothing without the supreme spiritual fruit of love. If I give away all that I own (the rabbis taught that people did not ever need to give more than twenty percent, so Paul’s illustration suggested unheard of generosity), and if I hand over my body to be burned but have not agape, I gain nothing (First Corinthians 13:1-3). When persecution of the early Church became intense, some believers actually sought martyrdom as a way of becoming famous or of gaining special heavenly credit. But when sacrifice is motivated by self-interest and pride it loses its spiritual value. Even accepting agonizing death gains nothing if it is not done without divine love. The loveless person produces nothing, is nothing, and gains nothing.141
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not brag, it is not puffed up, it does not behave inappropriately, it does not seek its own way, it is not provoked, it keeps no account of wrong suffered (First Corinthians 13:4-5). Here we find the most comprehensive biblical description of the fullness of agape love. Paul shines agape through a prism and we see fifteen of its colors and hues, the spectrum, if you will, of love. Each ray gives a facet, a property, of agape love. Unlike most translations, which include several adjectives, the Greek forms of all these properties are verbs. They do not focus on what love is so much as on what love does and does not do. Agape love is active, not abstract or passive. It does not merely feel patient, it practices patience. It does not simply have kind feelings, it does kind things. It does not only recognize the truth, it rejoices in the truth. Love is fully agape only when it acts (First John 3:18).
The purpose of Paul’s prism is not to give a technical analysis of love, but to break it down into smaller parts so that we may more easily understand and apply its full, rich meaning. As will all of God’s Word, we cannot truly begin to understand agape until we begin to apply it in our lives. Paul’s main purpose here is not merely to instruct the Corinthians but to change their living habits. He wanted them to carefully and honestly examine their lives against those divine characteristics of love. To change the metaphor, Paul is painting a portrait of agape love, and Yeshua Messiah is sitting for the portrait.142
Love does not rejoice over injustice but rejoices in the truth; it bears all things, it believes all things, it never gives up hope, and it endures all things. Love never takes satisfaction from sin, whether our own sin or that of others. Doing wrong things is bad enough in itself; bragging about them makes the sins even worse. To rejoice over injustice is to justify it. It is making wrong appear to be right. Isaiah declared: Oy to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet, and sweet as bitter (Isaiah 5: 20)! That is turning God’s truth upside down. Love never fails. Throughout all eternity agape will never end. Love, like God’s Word, is eternal (First Corinthians 13:6-8a). The only place you will find agape love, is when the Ruach ha-Kodesh flows through you.