The First Fruit Of The Spirit
By Charles H. Spurgeon
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Gal. 5:22).
Love is a grace which has to do with eternity; for we shall never cease to love Him who first loved us. But love has also to do with this present world, for it is at home in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, nursing the sick and liberating the slave. Love delights in visiting the fatherless and the widows, and thus it earns the encomium, “...I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matt. 25:35-36). Love is a very practical, homespun virtue, and yet it is so rich and rare that God alone is its author. None but a heavenly power can produce this fine linen; the love of the world is sorry stuff.
Love has to do with friends. How fondly it nestles in the parental bosom! How sweetly it smiles from a mother’s eye! How closely it binds two souls together in marriage bonds! How pleasantly it walks along the ways of life, leaning on the arm of friendship! But love is not content with this, she embraces her enemy, ...she prays for them that despitefully use her and persecute her. Is not this a precious jewel indeed? What earthly thing can be compared to it?
Love Leads the Way
You must have noticed that in the list of the fruits of the Spirit it is the first – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Gal. 5:22-23). It is first because in some respects it is best. First, because it leads the way. First, because it becomes the motive principle and stimulant of every other grace and virtue. You cannot conceive of anything more forceful and more beneficial, and therefore it is the first.
Love, moreover, is Godlike, for God is love. Love it is which prepares us for heaven, where everything is love. Come, sweet Spirit, and rest upon us till our nature is transformed into the divine nature by our becoming burning flames of love. Oh, that it were so with us this very day!
Only through the Spirit
Mark, beloved, that the love we are speaking of is not a love which cometh out of men on account of their natural constitution. I have known persons who are tenderly affectionate by nature; and this is good; but it is not spiritual love: it is the fruit of nature and not of grace. An affectionate disposition is admirable, and yet it may become a danger, by leading to inordinate affection, a timid fear of offending, or an idolatry of the creature. I do not condemn natural amiability; on the contrary, I wish that all men were naturally amiable: but I would not have any person think that this will save him, or that it is a proof that he is renewed. Only the love which is the fruit of the Spirit may be regarded as a mark of grace.
Some people, I am sorry to say, are naturally sour; they seem to have been born at the season of crab apples, and to have been fed on vinegar. They always take a faultfinding view of things. They never see the sun’s splendor, and yet they are so clear-sighted as to have discovered its spots. They have a great speciality of power for discerning things which it were better not to see. Such people as these have need to cry for the indwelling of the Spirit of God, for if He will enter into them His power will soon overcome the tendency to sourness, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Spiritual love is nowhere found without the Spirit, and the Spirit is nowhere dwelling in the heart unless love is produced.