1. Hello, listening friends. We are delighted you joined us again.
2. We have begun a series of messages on the fruit of the Spirit;
3. and, in our last broadcast, we learned what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. We learned that, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our lives begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
5. A list of the fruit is in the Scripture.
6. Today, we are going to begin learning about the first of this fruit, which is love.
7. If I ask you which word in the English language is more abused, misused and wrongly overused than any other word, what would you say?
8. The word is "love."
9. It is misused probably more than any other word.
10. Let us examine this for a moment.
11. I have met some parents who refuse to discipline and train their children and they let them run wild;
12. and they say they do this because they love their children.
13. There are some husbands and wives who refuse to be honest with each other and transparent with each other, and they call that "love."
14. Friends don’t speak the truth with each other and call that "love."
15. They say, “I just don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
16. They claim it is out of love that they do not speak the truth to their friends.
17. What kind of love is this?
18. There are many churches that refuse to condemn sin or call wrong "wrong," and they call that "love."
19. What kind of love is that?
20. On the television and the movie screens, there are all kinds of lusts and selfishness, all presented to us as "love."
21. In July of ’99, the city of Berlin in Germany,
22. 1.5 million young people from all over the world came to that city to what they called "love festival."
23. When the organizers were interviewed by a BBC correspondent, he was asked,
24. “Would it not be more accurate to call it ‘lust festival'?”
25. The organizer replied, “That is what it is, but calling it ‘love festival’ sounds much better.”
26. I can tell you that, probably, there was never a time, since the time of the early church, when the concept of love has been more confused than our time.
27. I must admit, I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this issue.
28. Our world is thoroughly confused;
29. yet, in the midst of this utter distortion and complete disfiguring of the real meaning of that beautiful word,
30. we are under obligation not only to restore the real meaning of the word, but to practice it.
31. Some cynics define "love" as what happens between a man and a woman when they know each other well.
32. Another cynic said, “Love is temporary insanity, curable by marriage.”
33. Now, I heard a story about a young man who proposed to his girlfriend.
34. As they sat together, looking over a beautiful lake, he said to her,
35. “Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the world.
36. I want you to marry me.
37. I am not wealthy and I am not rich.
38. I don’t have a yacht or a Rolls Royce, like John Brown,
39. but I do love you with all my heart.”
40. His girlfriend thought for a moment, and, then, she replied,
41. “I love you with all my heart too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown.”
42. One of the most important challenges to biblical love is how to practice it.
43. First, we need to understand it and, then, we need to practice it,
44. because biblical love is the opposite of everything the world calls “love”;
45. and that is why it is listed first in this most important among the fruit of the Spirit.
46. Turn with me, now, to Galatians, Chapter 5, verses 22 and 23.
47. We heard this Scripture in the last broadcast, but let us review it again.
48. Some writers have insisted that, in the context of this passage, love is not only the first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit,
49. but it is synonymous with the fruit of the Spirit.
51. Because love encompasses all the other characteristics in the fruit of the Spirit.
52. Love, as the first fruit of the Spirit, is not merely pleasant emotions,
53. or a good feeling,
54. but love, primarily, is self-giving.
55. My listening friends, I want you to listen very carefully to what I’m going to tell you, because I don’t want you to misunderstand.
56. True biblical love is not accurately demonstrated when everything is just going wonderful.
57. True and biblical love is not accurately manifested in the times of plenty and abundance.
58. True biblical love is not accurately portrayed when everything is brand new with the loved one.
59. True love can only be visible in the tough times and in the testing times.
60. True love can only be manifested in its fullness during times of stress and strain in life.
61. Let me ask you this:
62. how can you truly demonstrate biblical love when you have just fallen in love?
63. True biblical love comes after a few years in marriage --
64. what with diapers and bills and snoring and sickness and balancing checkbooks and pressures at work and loneliness at home.
65. Those are the times when true love is demonstrated.
66. Some wives will tell you that their husbands are courteous and thoughtful in public like he used to be before they were married,
67. but they are rude and selfish at home.
68. Similarly, husbands say wives are gracious and vivacious in the crowd, just like they were before they were married,
69. but they are moody and cold at home.
70. Too often, when we are hurt by the loved one, we want to inflict hurt back;
71. but, if the first fruit of the Spirit is love, then love says you do not render evil for evil.
72. Romans 12:17 says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.”
73. For wives, that means that, when your husbands wrong you or disagree with you, you must exhibit the first fruit of the Spirit, which is love.
74. For husbands, that means that, when your wife wrongs you, you do not leave, but you exhibit the first fruit of the Spirit, which is love.
75. Love, as a fruit, can only be truly manifested precisely at these hurtful times,
76. at these angering times,
77. at these irritating times.
78. For parents, loving your teenager in the midst of one of their raving and ranting times is truly exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.
79. For children, loving your parents, when they refuse to let you do what you want to do, is truly manifesting the fruit of the Spirit.
80. To all Christians, loving a Christian brother or sister, when you know that they have deeply wounded you,
81. that is the real time when the first fruit of the Spirit is manifested.
82. For most Christians, when everything is going well, they will tell you how much they love God;
83. but let them face a slight financial reversal, and guess Who gets cut out of their budget?
85. God Whom they say they love.
86. They don’t stop purchasing one of the many things they buy.
88. but they stop giving their money to God,
89. the One Whom they claim to love so much.
90. So many years ago, someone came to talk to me about tithing and offerings and giving.
91. He said that he could not afford to give tithes and offerings at that time because they were purchasing a second apartment.
92. I told him, “That was fine.
93. You would have no argument with me.”
94. He looked at me and said, “Are you serious?”
95. I said, “I’m completely serious.
96. You will have no argument with me, but don’t tell me that you love God.”
97. Let me tell you a story.
98. In the Book of Acts, when Barnabas sold the piece of land in Cyprus, which he owned, he took the money and placed it all at the feet of the Disciples.
99. There were a couple in the church of Jerusalem at that time who wanted synthetic sainthood.
100. “Oh,” they thought, “If Barnabas can do it, we can do it, too...”
101. so, they went out and they sold a piece of property before they went to the Apostles,
102. except they did one thing before they went to the Apostles. They left a good portion of it at home;
103. so, when they placed it at the feet of the Apostles and Peter said, “Is this the price of the land?”
104. and they said, “Yes...”
105. and Peter said, “Why did you have to lie to the Holy Spirit?”
106. Here’s what he said to them.
107. He said, “When you sold the land, was it not yours?”
108. They said, “Yes.”
109. He said, “And when you sold it, was not the money yours?”
110. They said, “Yes.”
111. He said, “You did not have to give it.”
112. My listening friends, are you listening carefully to this?
113. Because Peter said to the couple,
114. “You have lied to the Holy Spirit of God...”
115. and both of them dropped dead on the spot.
116. You can read the story for yourself later. You’ll find it in the Bible in the Book of Acts, Chapter 4, verse 36 to Chapter 5, verse 5.
117. Now, you cannot say that you love God when you keep Him out of your pocketbook,
118. because God Himself said, in Matthew 6:21, “Where your money is, there is your love.”
119. I know it says "heart" in the Bible, but that’s really what He meant.
120. Where your money is, that’s where your love is.
121. Loving God can only be manifested when you make an offering of money to God first, not cut Him out and make Him last.
122. I want to tell you something from personal experience.
123. Biblical love is a challenge to end all challenges.
124. More than temptations and more than anything else, biblical love is the challenge that ends all challenges;
125. and that is precisely why we talk about it much, but we understand it little.
126. We don’t take it seriously and we practice it little,
127. because it is such a challenge that we don’t comprehend it.
128. The world tells us that we have the right to react any way we want to the evil that is done to us and, if necessary, get even;
129. but I’ve noticed that we are running out of time and will have to stop.
130. We will learn more about this challenge of love in the next broadcast.
131. We will discover what biblical love is and where each of us gets the power to produce this spiritual fruit.
132. Until then, I wish you God’s richest blessing.