“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
For the next several days we will focus on the fruit of the Spirit — and the first, foundational fruit mentioned here is love. The core teaching of the Bible is love. Love is at the center of God’s character and all that God is and does. And when we come to believe in God — trusting in his amazing love for us through the life and work of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit — we begin to live by God’s love, because God comes to live in us (see Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:16).
The parable in our reading for today is often called “The Lost Son” or “The Prodigal Son,” but a more fitting title is “The Loving Father.” The father in this story shows his love by not attempting to control his son’s behavior, even though it surely broke his heart. Love always sets free.
Love moves in the direction of people. When the son returns, the father does not hold back but runs to greet his son. Love is affectionate. The father throws his arms around his son and kisses him. Saying “I love you” always involves more than words. Love does not allow apathy and indifference to choke out warmth and affection.
Love is reconciling. The father’s relationship with his son is more important than anything his son has done. Love does not allow the weed of strife to choke out a relationship. The father even calls for a celebration. Are you celebrating your loved ones today?
Thank you, Father, for pouring your love into our hearts through the Spirit. Help us to share it with others in all that we do. In Jesus, Amen.