And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV)
In identifying and nurturing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), love is set at its pinnacle as the crowning element of the fruit we must bear. Love is outward-looking and outward-acting, always conducting itself in the best interests of others before itself. William Barclay defines agape (love) as “unconquerable benevolence” and “undefeatable goodwill” (Flesh and Spirit, page 65). Love is the fundamental trait that moved God to give His Son to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). God acted in our best interest, to provide salvation for us, even when we were His enemies (Romans 5:6-8). So, it is God’s love that stirs us up to love one another as He has loved us (1 John 4:7-11). To have such love, we must begin by having this kind of love for God: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Only then can you “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Love is not only a noun, it is also a verb. Love is a word of action. When we act to please God rather than ourselves, we show love for God (1 John 5:3). When we act with goodwill for others, even for our enemies, then we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit.