Picture driving down a country road, and seeing a beautiful orchard with its neatly groomed rows of apple trees, pecan trees, and peach trees. Think of the roots that produce those fruits. Apple tree roots produce branches that bear apples. Pecan tree roots produce pecans. Peach trees, peaches.
When our lives are rooted in Jesus, we want to live God’s way. He brings forth fruit as on a branch. Similarly, if our lives are rooted in Jesus, He blossoms in us. That blossom grows into fruit, and it is His fruit that is in us. It is His fruit that flows through us.
That’s what Galatians 5:22-23 is trying to teach followers of Jesus.
The first such fruit of the Spirit is love. The definition of love in the Bible appears only one time: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Jesus spoke of the importance of this first fruit: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Love is the tell-tale sign that your roots are deeply set in God. Your blossoms are from Him. In Him. Love must be seen. It is God’s very nature.
Love is the first fruit for a reason. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). It’s the greatest of the virtues – the one above all others. Love is not optional. It can’t be, because God is love.
Jesus’s followers, his “trees,” must produce Jesus’s character. The first fruit is love. Love others as God first loved you.
It’s who the Lord of love is.
And you cannot be His follower without love.