One of my favorite books is Andrew Murray’s Absolute Surrender—it contains many of the core aspects of the Christian life … a life marked by humility, love, continual abiding, total dependence, and obviously absolute surrender to Jesus Christ.
I recently was listening to the audiobook version (read by my favorite narrator, Simon Vance) and I was struck afresh by chapter two: The Fruit of the Spirit is Love.
Andrew Murray talks about the importance of our lives built upon love and what that actually looks like on the streets of the Christian life. Though a bit long, I would highly encourage you to read the following portion from chapter two and allow Jesus to deepen His love in and through you.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Love
by Andrew Murray
I want to look at the fact of a life filled with the Holy Spirit more from the practical side. I want to show how this life will reveal itself in our daily walk and conduct.
Under the Old Testament you know the Holy Spirit often came upon men as a divine Spirit of revelation to reveal the mysteries of God, or for power to do the work of God. But He did not dwell in them then. Now, many just want the Old Testament gift of power for work. But, they know very little of the New Testament gift of the indwelling Spirit, animating and renewing the whole life. When God gives the Holy Spirit, His great object is the formation of a holy character. It is a gift of a holy mind and spiritual disposition, and what we need, above everything else, is to say:
“I must have the Holy Spirit sanctifying my whole inner life if I am really to live for God’s glory. ”
You might say that when Christ promised the Spirit to the disciples, He did so that they might have power to be witnesses. True, but then they received the Holy Spirit in such heavenly power and reality that He took possession of their whole being at once and so fitted them as holy men for doing the work with power as they had to do it. Christ spoke of power to the disciples, but it was the Spirit filling their whole being that worked the power.
I wish now to dwell upon the passage found in Galatians 5:22:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love.”
We read that “Love is the fulfilling of the law”‘ (Romans 13: 10), and my desire is to speak on love as a fruit of the Spirit with a twofold object. One is that this word may be a searchlight in our hearts, and give us a test by which to try all our thoughts about the Holy Spirit and all our experience of the holy life. Let us try ourselves by this word. Has this been our daily habit, to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of love? “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Has it been our experience that the more we have of the Holy Spirit, the more loving we become? In claiming the Holy Spirit, we should make this the first object of our expectation. The Holy Spirit comes as a Spirit of love.
Oh, if this were true in the Church of Christ, how different her state would be! May God help us to get hold of this simple, heavenly truth that the fruit of the Spirit is a love which appears in the life. Just as the Holy Spirit gets real possession of the life, the heart will be filled with real, divine, universal love.
One of the great causes why God cannot bless His Church is the lack of love. When the body is divided, there cannot be strength. In the time of their great religious wars, when Holland stood out so nobly against Spain, one of their mottoes was: “Unity gives strength.” It is only when God’s people stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in a love that the world can see-it is only then that they will have power to secure the blessing which they ask of God. Remember that if a vessel that ought to be one whole is cracked into many pieces, it cannot be filled. You can take one part of the vessel and dip out a little water into that, but if you want the vessel full, the vessel must be whole. That is literally true of Christ’s Church. And if there is one thing we must pray for still, it is this-Lord, melt us together into one by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit, who at Pentecost made them all of one heart and one soul, do His blessed work among us. Praise God, we can love each other in a divine love, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Give yourselves up to love, and the Holy Spirit will come; receive the Spirit, and He will teach you to love more.
GOD IS LOVE
Now, why is it that the fruit of the Spirit is love? Because God is love (I John 4:8).
And what does that mean?
It is the very nature and being of God to delight in communicating Himself. God has no selfishness; God keeps nothing to Himself. God’s nature is to be always giving. You see it, in the sun and the moon and the stars, in every flower, in every bird in the air, in every fish in the sea. God communicates life to His creatures. And the angels around His throne, the seraphim and cherumbim who are flames of firewhere does their glory come from? It comes from God because He is love, and He imparts to them part of His brightness and His blessedness. And we, His redeemed children-God delights to pour His love into us. Why? Because, as I said, God keeps nothing for Himself. From eternity God had His only begotten Son, and the Father gave Him all things, and nothing that God had was kept back. “God is love.”
One of the old Church fathers said that we cannot better understand the Trinity than as a revelation of divine lovethe Father, the loving One, the Fountain of love-the Son, the beloved one, the Reservoir of love, in whom the love was poured out-and the Spirit, the living love that united both and then overflowed into this world. The Spirit of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of the Son is love. And when the Holy Spirit comes to us and to other men, will He be less a Spirit of love than He is in God? It cannot be; He cannot change His nature. The Spirit of God is love, and “the fruit of the Spirit is love.”
MANKIND NEEDS LOVE
Why is that so? That was the one great need of mankind, that was the thing which Christ’s redemption came to accomplish: to restore love to this world.
When man sinned, why was it that he sinned? Selfishness triumphed-he sought self instead of God. And just look! Adam at once begins to accuse the woman of having led him astray. Love to God had gone; love to man was lost. Look again: of the first two children of Adam, the one becomes a murderer of his brother.
Does that not teach us that sin had robbed the world of love? Ah! what a proof the history of the world has been of love having been lost! There may have been beautiful examples of love even among the heathen, but only as a little remnant of what was lost. One of the worst things sin did for man was to make him selfish, for selfishness cannot love.
The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven as the Son of God’s love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). God’s Son came to show what love is , and He lived a life of love here on earth in fellowship with His disciples, in compassion over the poor and miserable, in love even to His enemies. And, He died the death of love. And when He went back to heaven, whom did He send down? The Spirit of love, to come and banish selfishness and envy and pride, and bring the love of God into the hearts of men. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.”
And what was the preparation for the promise of the Holy Spirit? You know that promise as found in the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. But remember what precedes in the thirteenth chapter. Before Christ promised the Holy Spirit, He gave a new commandment, and about that new commandment He said wonderful things. One thing was: “Even as I have loved you, so love ye one another.” To them His dying love was to be the only law of their conduct and fellowship with each other. What a message to those fishermen, to those men full of pride and selfishness! “Learn to love each other,” said Christ, “as I have loved you.” And by the grace of God they did it. When Pentecost came, they were of one heart and one soul. Christ did it for them.
And now He calls us to live and to walk in love. He demands that though a man hate you, still you love him. True love cannot be conquered by anything in heaven or on earth. The more hatred there is, the more love triumphs through it all and shows its true nature. This is the love that Christ commanded His disciples to exercise.
What more did He say? “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
You all know what it is to wear a badge. And Christ said to His disciples in effect: “I give you a badge, and that badge is love. That is to be your mark. It is the only thing in heaven or on earth by which men can know me.” Do we not begin to fear that love has fled from the earth? That if we were to ask the world: “Have you seen us wear the badge of love?.” the world would say: “No, what we have heard of the Church of Christ is that there is not a place where there is no quarreling and separation.” Let us ask God with one heart that we may wear the badge of Jesus’ love. God is able to give it.
LOVE CONQUERS SELFISHNESS
“The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Why? Because nothing but love can expel and conquer our selfishness.
Self is the great curse, whether in its relation to God, or to our fellow-men in general, or to fellowChristians, thinking of ourselves and seeking our own. Self is our greatest curse. But, praise God, Christ came to redeem us from self. We sometimes talk about deliverance from the self-life-and thank God for every word that can be said about it to help us, But I am afraid some people think deliverance from the self-life means that now they are no longer going to have any. trouble in serving God. They forget that deliverance from self-life means to be a vessel overflowing with love to everybody all the day.
And there you have the reason why many people pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. They get something, but oh, so little! because they prayed for power for work, and power for blessing, but they have not prayed for power for full deliverance from self. That means not only the righteous self in fellowship with God, but the unloving self in fellowship with men. And there is deliverance. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” I bring you the glorious promise of Christ that He is able to fill our hearts with love.
A great many of us try hard at times to love. We try to force ourselves to love, and I do not say that is wrong; it is better than nothing. But the end of it is always very sad. “I fail continually,” many must confess. And what is the reason? The reason is simply this-they have never learned to believe and accept the truth that the Holy Spirit can pour God’s love into their heart. That blessed text has often been limited!-“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” (Romans 5:5). It has often been understood in this sense: It means the love of God to me. Oh, what a limitation! That is only the beginning. The love of God is always the love of God in its entirety, in its fullness as an indwelling power. It is a love of God to me that leaps back to Him in love, and overflows to my fellow-men in love-God’s love to me, and my love to God, and my love to my fellowmen. The three are one; you cannot separate them.
Do believe that the love of God can be shed abroad in your heart and mind so that we can love all the day.
“Ah!” you say, “how little I have understood that!”
Why is a lamb always gentle? Because that is its nature. Does it cost the lamb any trouble to be gentle? No. Why not? It is so beautiful and gentle. Has a lamb to study to be gentle? No. Why does that come so easy? It is its nature. And a wolf-why does it cost a wolf no trouble to be cruel, and to put its fangs into the poor lamb or sheep? Because that is its nature. It does not have to summon up its courage; the wolfnature is. there.
And how can I learn to love? I cannot learn to love until the Spirit of God fills my heart with God’s love, and I begin to long for God’s love in a very different sense from which I have sought it so selfishly-as a comfort, a joy, a happiness, and a pleasure to myself. I will not learn it until I realize that “God is love,” and to claim and receive it as an indwelling power for selfsacrifice. I will not love until I begin to see that my glory, my blessedness, is to be like God and like Christ, in giving up everything in myself for my fellow-men. May God teach us this! Oh, the divine blessedness of the love with which the Holy Spirit can fill our hearts! “The fruit of the Spirit is love.”
LOVE IS GOD’S GIFT
Once again I ask, Why must this be so? And my answer is: Without this we cannot live the daily life of love.
How often, when we speak about the consecrated life, we have to speak about temper, and people have sometimes said: “You make too much of temper.”
I do not think we can make too much of it. Think for a moment of a clock and of what its hands mean. The hands tell me what is within the clock, and if I see that the hands stand still, or that the hands point wrong, or that the clock is slow or fast, I say that something inside the clock is not working properly. And temper is just like the revelation that the clock gives of what is within. Temper is a proof whether the love of Christ is filling the heart or not. How many there are who find it easier in church, or in prayer meeting, or in work for the Lord-diligent, earnest work-to be holy and happy than in the daily life with wife and children. How many find it easier to be holy and happy outside the home than in it! Where is the love of God? In Christ. God has prepared for us a wonderful redemption in Christ, and He longs to make something supernatural of us. Have we learned to long for it, ask for it, and expect it in its fullness?
• • • • •
Have you a lack of love to confess before God? Then make confession and say before Him, “O Lord, my lack of heart, my lack of love-I confess it.” And then, as you cast that lack at His feet, believe that the blood cleanses you, that Jesus comes in His mighty, cleansing, saving power to deliver you, and that He will give His Holy Spirit. “The Fruit of the Spirit is love.”