In my soon to be released book titled, The Altar of His Presence, I speak about the necessity of one being willing to wholly and completely seek the Lord. This is in keeping with the words of Jesus. He said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
An example of the precept Jesus said that day is found in Psalm 63:1-4. These are the words of King David. He said, “A psalm of David. O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
What is the result of such? What should we expect when we completely embrace the full and glorious manifested Presence of God? This may sound simple. But, we should expect the manifestation of the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Before we get into the gifts of the Spirit, let me first speak concerning the fruit.
The manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit is a result of our constant state of abiding in Christ. The concept of “abiding in Christ” includes two things according to the Apostle Paul. He said in Galatians 5:24-25, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Full fruit manifestation is only possible by dying to the sinful nature and living in the Spirit. Such “abiding” is from a concept formed from an old English word signifying a progressive and permanent attitude of being. The word abide means to “await,” “remain,” “lodge,” “sojourn,” “dwell,” “continue,” and “endure.” The word abide is usually the translation of the Hebrew and Greek words yashabh (Hebrew), meaning “to dwell”; and meno, (Greek) meaning “to remain.”
During the time that Jesus was on the earth, the area around Jerusalem was filled with small vineyards. The cultivation of those vineyards required constant care or the vines, branches and fruit would soon degenerate. Whenever it rained the loosely made walls were required to have breaches repaired; the ground had to be plowed or harrowed and cleared of weeds. When the grapes ripened they had to be watched to keep off jackals and foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15), and in some districts even wild boars (Psalm 80:13) away.
When the grape season came, the whole family of the owner frequently took up their residence in a booth constructed upon one of the larger towers and remained there until the grape harvest was practically finished. Harvest time was a time of special happiness. Even the end of harvest time was filled with joy because the gleanings were left to the poor of the village or town (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 24:21; Isaiah 17:6; Jeremiah 49:9; and Micah 7:1) to have and enjoy.
The activity of developing the fruit of the Spirit is not limited to the service, ministry or supernatural gifts. The fruit that produces moral and spiritual character is traced to the Spirit’s operations as well. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit are expressions pointing to the ethical quality of the Spirit’s action. The ethical quality of dying to the sinful nature and then living in the Spirit is true holiness.
The word holy is from the Hebrew verb form qadhash, whose root meaning is “to be separated.” From qadhash comes the idea “to be exalted,” and this led to the conception “to be Divine.” And as the Lord is morally good, the conception of “the holy (= Divine) one” came to signify the holy one in the moral sense. Thence the word was applied to the Spirit of the Lord as well as to the Lord Himself.
The Holy Spirit desires to manifest the first of His first triad of fruit, the fruit of agape (love). Agape is superior to other kinds of love. The Greeks described love in the terms of philo (brotherly love) and eros (romantic love). The Bible uses the word agape to describe God’s love. God’s love is faithful, unconditional and eternal. Paul described agape in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in this way; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
The Easton Bible Dictionary says the word agape must be understood in the light of its use by our Lord in his interview with “Simon, the son of Jonas.” After His resurrection in John 21:16-17, our Lord asked Peter (Simon, the son of Jonas), “Do you love me?” Jesus used the Greek word agape; but when Simon answered the question, he used the Greek word philo, i.e., “brotherly love.”
Jesus used agape in both His first and second questions put to Peter; but in the third our Lord used Simon’s word. The distinction between these two Greek words is thus fitly described by Trench. Agape speaks more to one’s judgment and deliberate choice; whereas, philo has more the idea of emotional attachment and peculiar personal affection. Thus, the question, “Do you love” (agapas) from the lips of the Lord no doubt seemed to Peter to be too cold a word, as though his Lord were keeping him at a distance, or at least not inviting him to draw near, as in the passionate yearning of his heart he desired now to do.
Therefore, Peter substitutes his own word “I love” (philo) in its place. A second time he did the same thing. When the Lord demands a third time whether or not Peter loves him, Jesus does it in the word which alone will satisfy Peter (“Do you love (philo) me, which alone claims from him that personal attachment and affection with which indeed he knows that his heart is full.”
The fruit of the Spirit is agape. In other words, agape loves whether or not there is the feeling of emotional attachment or affection. Agape is love based on a decision and that decision is the decision “to love.” Because God is eternally the same, when He chose “to love” the world He gave. This is because agape can only be witnessed by one’s actions. Agape shines when all other loves fail. Agape remains when brotherly love and romantic love have drifted away.
The Lord Himself…agapas…us and His love never fails!
His love is constant and never ending. So is love born as the fruit of the Spirit. Our first love (agape) must be the Lord. In fact, the Church at Ephesus was exhorted in Revelation 2:4 to return to the Lord because the people had lost their “first love.”
Let us decide to embrace, enjoy and encourage the Lord and then others with agape love.
Choose to do so today! Let the Spirit’s agape blossom and grow in your life! In Jesus’ Name!