I could make a list of to-do actions, motions of “love” toward enemies. I could resolve to fight down envy the minute it strikes, to “do love acts” toward unlovely actors, while not forgetting “kind” gestures and “thoughtfulness” toward nearest and dearest…
But that (alone) won’t do it!
All that might not even be love!
Love is patient, kind, etc., descriptions of not just outward actions, but of inward state of heart.
All forced outward motions look uncomfortably like 1 Corinthians 13’s beginning: the hard big truth that love is NOT outwardly attractive yet hollow acts of eloquent words, mountain-moving changes for the whole world’s good, even giving body, soul, and pocketbook (and all within them!) toward others’ benefit.
Love produces such actions, but other motives can too. Flatterers, schmoozers, and hypocrites all can act the actions, for even nefarious, self-serving ends.
So just forcing right deeds from my muscles, myself alone, won’t manifest true Christlike love!
Then what will?
Love is patient, kind, finds joy in truth… Where else have I seen those words? Galatians 5:22. Fruit of the Spirit.
What spirit? Whose spirit?
But the Spirit, dwelling, filling, within. If it (He) is dwelling and filling!
I can’t produce love by mere actions. Love is the producer, not the product. And love can’t arise from my sinful self. Love comes from God. God in Heaven, God (Christ) in me. It’s part of the fruit of His own Spirit. Without a fullness of that Spirit, there’s not enough oil of love to overflow, to spill love out on others.
So, first and most important: more of Him, of His Spirit, filling, taking over. Top priority.
But ah, such striving rages…
They wrestle: Two at odds, vying for predominance — within my being, struggling of late — much like those two babes wrestling in Rebekah’s womb, likewise in Tamar’s, battling for first place, competing for birthing.
Seemingly not just two wee babes within me, however, but an entire crowd! Selfishness fighting Selflessness, Irritation combating kind Patience, Weary-with-well-doing opposing Perseverance… and so on. All vying for birth in my thoughts, then my actions.
Seeming multitudes. But really, two entities only: Me (me-thoughts and me-actions), seeking birth by my spirit, versus Christ-in-me (Christ-thoughts and actions) deeply desiring Holy-Spirit-wrought birth from my new person.
Three short months back, so different it was… Really! Outside offences rolled over and off me, so much more easily, as strength kept growing within. Evil-wishers so seldom could stir a “rise” of anger, fear, or self-pity. Enemy arrows failed so often to penetrate a stronger-armored me.
Why? Then I was gathering to myself more “hours,” and clinging to them: set times of drawing near Him who is all perfection and Who bears out all good that can ever come through me. And though I noticed this changed state after while, as prayer times grew more numerous, fixed, and certain, not till December’s residue of chaos left January poor in November’s inner wealth… not until then did the difference fully strike me.
So number one for me right now, prerequisite to producing Spirit fruit, IS the Spirit, of God Himself, Christ in Me, cultivated carefully by draw-near effort, watered by repeated douses of time.
How can I give what I have not gained? How can I gain the life and love of the Vine?
Closer, ever closer to the source, the only place I can draw into my own heart the love to give.