THE WORD: The first is love

“Conversion on the Way to Damascus” by Caravaggio (cir. 1600) is a painting in the collection of the Santa Maria del Popolo church, Rome, Italy (Public Domain)

Following the eight-week series on the parables of Matthew 13, we begin a nine-week series on the Fruit of the Spirit — ending the week prior to election day. As our world seems to be consumed by problems caused or exacerbated by people, Paul reminds us that there are no laws against the Fruit of the Spirit.

Paul introduces the Galatians to the sins of the flesh (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings) before announcing the Fruit of the Spirit which begins with love (agape in Greek).

Agape love denotes goodwill that seeks the highest good for others, regardless of their behavior or beliefs. It is given freely and unconditionally. Paul described love in detail to the Corinthians as patient and kind. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44 that we should love our enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which persecute you. In Mark, Jesus said that loving the Lord and loving your neighbor as yourself were the greatest of the commandments.

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.