Led by the Spirit

4. The fruit of the Spirit: introduction – Love

The Fruit of the Spirit are not fruit you produce but HIS FRUIT which He the Holy Spirit produces in you, and which He makes manifest in and through you.

Jesus expects us to bring forth much fruit for by so doing we glorify God.

(John 15:8 NRSV) My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

The vine and the branches

This parable teaches us very clearly how to bear fruit to the glory of God. We are to remain in Christ. To remain is to be obedient and faithful to all that you are called to be and do for the Lord.

(John 15:5 NRSV) I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.


Galatians sets out for us the results of giving in to the natural desires of the fallen nature, i.e. the flesh principle.

(Gal 5:19-21 NRSV) Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, [21] envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

A contrast is made with the Holy Spirit guided, and Holy Spirit submitted life. A life submitted brings before the unsaved a spiritual fragrance that attracts and directs their attention towards the Creator.

(Gal 5:22-26 NRSV) By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. [24] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [25] If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. [26] Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

Nine fruit

The following are the outworkings of the Spirit that grow as we more and more find ourselves in Jesus.


But the greatest of these is love.

To understand this fruit it is necessary to know that in the original Greek language there are four words for love.

i. Eros: sensual love.

Correctly used this describes the deep sensual love which may exist between a man and woman. A man and his wife should feel free to abandon themselves to each other in “eros” and cheerfully give to each other and receive from each other all the happiness their passion can arouse. But “eros” outside of marriage is for a Christian, (except in a developing and limited form during courtship.) is strictly forbidden.

ii. Storge: family love.

This is seen in the affection of parents for their children and of the children for parents and each other.

iii. Philia.

Friendly love. The love of deep friendship. An earnest attachment to someone or something.

iv. Agape.

Ethical love. Used in the New Testament to describe love as a Christian grace.

Three important differences

i. “Eros”, “storge”, and “philia” are characterised as being more or less involuntary. They simply happen. We pick and choose. We find loving some people easy, and other people we can even detest. There is no special reward springing from these behaviours, other than the pleasure of loving and being loved.

ii. For this reason “eros”, “storge”, and “philia”, because they deal with the emotions and instincts that are largely unbidden, cannot be commanded. We cannot be TOLD to have “eros”, “storge” or “philia” for someone, and certainly not for everyone. However we CAN control these emotions and instincts if and when they occur. In these three forms of love the element of “liking” for a person is part of the feeling.

iii. But “agape” CAN be commanded. It is an act of will. It is a conscious act of obedience leading to a victory over our natural inclinations and emotions. Exercising our will, and conscious of the support and presence of the Holy Spirit we are able to love the unlovely, our enemies, those we are physically find repulsive and those with minds that we find detestable.

Agape love, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is the power to love those whom we do not like. It is an outworking in OUR lives of the love of God.

(Mat 5:43-48 NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. [46] If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? [47] And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? [48] Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Rom 5:5 NIV) And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.