But the fruit of the Spirit is love...
I have been pondering on how to finish my exposition of Galatians. This tremendous passage is so full of meaning that it could take months to expound. I have finally decided to go one word at a time.
The word translated 'love' here is 'agape' which is not the love one feels for a spouse or a brother or a child or a friend, but the self-sacrificing love that is all about the will and not feelings. When Jesus told us to love our enemies, this was the sort of love he meant. To love someone means to want the best for them. It means you want to save them from suffering, for them to be pleased with life and above all for them to be saved from the destruction to come.
Think about some of the worst people alive. Suicide bombers, rapists, murderers, pedophiles, callous fraudsters, abusers of the old and handicapped; these are all people that Jesus died for. Surely the Lord can't mean us to love these? But he does. Without exception. His grace is sufficient for everyone of these to turn from his wicked ways and live. The tragedy is that so few do. But that does not mean that we should not pray for them.
This does not mean that heaven should be open to unrepentant murderers and rapists. They cannot enter there; it would be physically impossible. But there are many who have repented. Think of John Newton; a slave ship captain who turned away from sin and became a Christian minister, and who wrote many fine hymns including Amazing Grace. It was indeed amazing grace that saved him, but the same Spirit who gives us love as a fruit deals in amazing grace and only he can make a difference in the life of the criminal and blackguard. He graciously allows us to take part in grace by giving us agape love as one of his fruits.