The fruit of the Spirit is intentionally named using a singular form because essentially, it is composed of nine attributes (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Each of these nine attributes are equally important for the holistic growth and transformation of our spirits as we live our Christian lives and strive to follow the wonderful example of Jesus Christ. My favourite is love because in 1 Corinthians 13:13 it says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
In the King James version of the Bible love appears roughly 600 times. What does this tell us? It shows us that one of the truths of the Word of God is about love. God, in all His power and majesty, is the very essence and epitome of love (And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. — 1 John 4:16). The kind of love that God shows us is the kind that we struggle to achieve and give to our brethren: unconditional love. God has loved us all so much that despite our sinfulness and our falling out of His grace, He gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
Human love may fall way below the kind of love that God gives us, but through the bible, the Word of God tells us how we should love our fellow humans and brothers and sisters in Christ. The first letter of Paul the Apostle to Corinthians beautifully and extensively describes what is love in the human context: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7).
As Christians and followers of Jesus, we need to follow the love exemplified by Jesus in his life and ministry. According to God the Father’s will, Jesus loved all the people regardless of their status in life. Jesus embraced everyone who came to Him, the sick and infirm, the outcasts, the tax collectors, and even His enemies. Because being a Christian is our conscious and self-willed choice to follow Jesus and His teachings, then we should by all means love the people around us, regardless if they are fellow believers or non-believers, rich or poor, and good or bad. This is one way of loving unconditionally. We do not discriminate who we are trying to love or show our love to. When we love in this way, the next thing we do is expect nothing in return from that person or the persons we give our love.
In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus says, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. And the second like it is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”