The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit: Love
Passage: Galatians 5:22–5:23
John 13:1 NLT - Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
We are starting a series on the fruits of the Spirit. You may have heard a series on these before. You may have been in a Bible study on the fruits of the Spirit before. This is a very practical chunk of scripture, some sort of how-to list to living out this life of faith.
You have people in your life who are full of these fruits of the Spirit. And you love them. You admire them. You want to be them. You would even say they are brave souls.
Then there are people in your life who frustratingly do not exhibit these fruits in their lives. Even after professing to live a life of faith for 50 years.
Then there is you. You have been trying to live by this how-to list and you still find yourself falling short. Probably why you are not so excited to be in yet another series on them. This series is going to explain hopefully the why of that.
So let’s start with the list of what they are. Found in Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law!
Actually Galatians 5 is a good chapter to stay in for a while. There is a lot of practicality in there. A lot of challenge in there. Add that to your devotions for this week. This list of the fruits of the Spirit is a good list to try to achieve. But the big thing I just learned about two years ago is this: each one of these fruits of the Spirit exposes our vulnerability. And we don’t like that.
For example, today we are starting with love, because it is first on the list. So I’m going to begin with this oft-quoted and famous quote by C. S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung out and possibly broken.” –C.S. Lewis
Are you getting a glimpse of where we are going this month?
Let’s talk first about vulnerability. You don’t like it. Nobody likes it. These are words associated with vulnerability.
Exposed risk heart break
Smashed heart fear fear of failure
Choose caution choose safety Not in control
Faith fear to believe again
What words would you add?
NONE of these words are desired. And we spend a good amount of energy in our adult life to stay out of vulnerability.
Who here is a Dr. Brene’ Brown fan? She has done a ton of research on shame and vulnerability. Actual research. When I first started reading this research I was blown away because I saw so many Biblical principles put into practice and explained in research. This is the big Brene’ Brown quote on vulnerability:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” Dr. Brene’ Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 34
Do you want those words in your life: love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, creativity, hope, accountability and authenticity. Then live vulnerable. All of those words sound so strong, so brave. Vulnerability is based in strength because we are putting ourselves out there.
We think vulnerability is a weakness. But really weakness is the lack of vulnerability thus the lack of strength because fear won’t let us get wounded.
Vulnerability becomes a measure of courage because we believe we are worthy enough to put ourselves out there. Another oft-quoted Brene’ Brown quote,
“Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” Rising Strong, p. 4.
I’d like to give you this Max Lucado quote right now:
“Oversize and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and unproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
“Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that.” –Max Lucado, Fearless, p. 5
You may think your fear of one of these crises will keep you out of this pain. The truth is fear does not keep you safe and prevent bad things from happening. Fear does not give you any control over your life. Your bravery comes when you embrace vulnerability.
In your Lifeline there are post-it notes. This is because this series is going to be giving you post-it thoughts you need to post on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself so you will brave into vulnerability.
So back to the C. S. Lewis quote,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung out and possibly broken.”
There is vulnerability in love. Love hurts. Love disappoints. This is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
Love also brings our greatest joys. If you know John’s and my story and the boys we’ve raised and love, we have hurt and we have never had more joy. When you can’t have children and then you see your grandson running towards you calling you Oma there is no greater joy. That vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy. We are going to learn about joy next week.
But we are afraid to love. Or we love with high fences around our heart. I have another quote from another great writer, Donald Miller.
“It’s no wonder we all try to control each other. Sometimes relationships feel like we’re trying to emotionally cuddle with each other at the same time we’re tearing each other down. But love doesn’t control, and I suppose that’s why it’s the ultimate risk. In the end, we have to hope the person we’re giving our heart to won’t break it, and be willing to forgive them when they do, even as they will forgive us. Real love stories don’t have dictators, they have participants. Love is an ever-changing, complicated, choose-your-own adventure narrative that offers the world but guarantees nothing. “ –Donald Miller, Scary Close, pp. 97-98
People, we even do this with God. We don’t fully love God, we love with those protective high fences around God, probably because we’ve been so hurt by something truly painful in our lives. So we love God in our defined box. Fact is that love is probably enough to keep you out of hell. But there is more to this life.
We deeply desire to be lovable. Yet letting yourself be loved is putting yourself in vulnerability and surrender.Letting yourself be loved gives you over to someone’s mercy and to trust that they will keep loving you, that they will love you the way you want to be loved, and that they won’t break your heart. Fear and control get in the way of love. Though fear is often wrongly described as love. It is the justification of fear that is used to try to control your world, to try to control the outcome.
According to 1 John 4:18 the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. That is whole other good sermon. You will notice over these weeks that all of these fruits of the Spirit will expose how you are trying to control your faith.
Friends, you are worthy of being loved. You are worthy to love others. You are worthy (and needed) to love the world. And you will survive the heartbreak. God has hard-wired us for pain.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. John recorded this observation about Jesus, Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1. We are loved to the end. You are loved to the end. Now go love one another. Be brave. The world needs the heartbreak you risk.
That is fruit in your life.
More in The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit
June 10, 2018The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit: Joy, Peace