Love. Why is it the first of the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23? Well, I believe it’s no accident that the Spirit placed it first on the list because unless we love first and know that we are loved, all the other fruit of joy, peace, patience, kind-heartedness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control will not grow in our lives if we don’t put love in its proper place. But how do we love properly as we should if we feel we haven’t been properly loved? What if we’ve been so used to hiding in our rejection, shame, and disappointments that we’ve forgotten that love needs to stay at the top of the list for us to keep communing with our Creator? What would happen if suddenly our eyes were opened and we realised we’d been properly loved all along?
“Where are you?” is the sound of God walking in the cool, misting shadows, calling out to Adam in Genesis chapter three. A sound that still echoes through the shadows of time as He continues to call out our names because we still choose to hide in our shame and vulnerability. “Who told you that you are naked?” Is a question that rings through our ears, reminding every one of us of the lie we so eagerly fed into from the serpent hissing his vengeance, telling us that no matter how many fig leaves we use to cover our mistakes we are still bare, defenceless, and not properly loved by a controlling God who always, always withholds something from us just in case we become like Him (Gen 3:5).
So, how do we love properly if we’ve always wondered if we’ve been properly loved? Why does love need to come first on the list the Spirit gives us so we can enjoy the other fruits? True relationships require love because without love there is no room for joy, peace, patience, kind-heartedness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control to grow. When we’re walking in the garden, communing with our Creator we enjoy the unconditional, different kind of fruit. The fruit found in communion with God reveals how much He properly loved us even before He laid out the plans for this world because He wanted us to live holy lives characterized by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4).
But how can we properly love again? Eden is lost, gone, stolen from us. The garden we once communed in with God was exposed to a lie that turned our joy, peace, patience, kind-heartedness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control into shame, disappointment, abandonment, and grief. The freedom we once walked in as we communed with God was destroyed by a cunning serpent, who hatched a plan to kill any hope we had of a fruitful life the moment he saw we’d been made in God’s image, fashioned according to His likeness, and given authority over all the earth (Genesis 1:26).
But God had a plan that the serpent wasn’t counting on. A plan to help us to come out from our hiding place and let us know once and for all that we have always been properly loved regardless of what that slippery snake told us in the garden. A love that, if we choose to commune in, if we choose to put first, if we choose to accept, will help guide us on how to properly love so we can love others properly.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” reminds John in his gospel account. (15:5). How can we properly love if we don’t allow the love that properly loved us first to abide? How can we bear the fruit of joy, peace, patience, kind-heartedness, goodness, and faithfulness if we aren’t grafted on to the One who can teach us how to properly love? Communion comes when we allow God’s proper love to properly love us so we feel brave enough to answer His questions, “Where are you?” and “Who told you that you are naked?” Helping us to come out from our hiding place and become vulnerable once again. We need to stop feeding off the lie that we’re bare, naked and properly unloved because He, the One who loves us properly, has clothed us.
‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations (Isaiah 61:10-11).
You are properly loved. Always have been, always will be. From Eden to Zion. Hold onto the truth that the One who holds you loves you completely. Trust that the strength of God will cover you properly so you can properly love others with the fruits of His Spirit. And tell that sneaky snake who keeps bothering you with his lies that you’re not listening to him anymore because you know you are properly loved!
Have you fed into the lie that told you, you’re bare, naked, and properly unloved so you run and hide?
I pray today that Jesus’ sacrificial love, the blood that set us free from our shame and hiding flows freely from your life so you can properly love with joy, peace, patience, kind-heartedness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. I pray that you will know that you can never properly love in your strength but only in His strength, the One who covers you, protects you and fights for you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.