Week 43: What does “love” really mean?

The list of godly qualities found in Galatians 5:22-23 is like a measuring stick that shows us where we need to be more like Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can truly produce these characteristics in the lives of Christ’s followers. This week we’ll take the first step on a journey to look at all nine character traits – and it all begins with love.

Be ready to read the following passages:

Let’s start it.

Take turns finishing the sentence: “I love….”

Let’s learn it.

Back in week 35 of Family Time we talked about how we sometimes use the word “hate” without giving it much thought. Well, the same thing is true of the word “love.” We use it to describe our feelings for everything from chocolate to members of our family to God! We use it when we want people to know how strongly we feel about something or someone. But what does it really mean? The best description of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, which is known as the “love chapter.” Let’s read that passage together.


Godly love sounds a lot like the fruit of the Spirit – doesn’t it? Love is not just an emotion that comes over you. Love is a choice. Responding in love means choosing to be patient and kind, while also choosing not to be selfish or rude. It’s not always easy to be loving. But remember, responding in love starts by asking for God’s help and then following the Holy Spirit’s leading.

It’s not a coincidence that the fruit of the Spirit begins with love. Love is like rich soil that grows healthy fruit. The other eight fruits of the Spirit need genuine love in order to grow. Now check out Colossians 3:12-14 for another word picture about love. Did you catch what verse 14 said? Love is like a strong cord that holds a bundle of packages together. Love should be our first and last response, not just because we feel like it, but because we choose to speak and act in love.

There’s never been a better example of love in action than what’s described in John 3:16. Can someone in your family say that verse from memory? Either read or recite that verse now.

The first four words of John 3:16 tell us why we can be saved from our sin, “For God so loved….” His act of love wasn’t just for certain people. He loves the entire world and invites each person to become His child. It’s impossible for us to love people the way God wants us to unless we first have His love in our hearts.

Let’s discuss it.

  1. Look at the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a again. Make a list of the things love does and the things it does not
  2. Discuss how you can live out God’s description of love this week at home, church, school, and work.

Let’s do it.

As we continue our journey through the fruit of the Spirit, begin to think of your heart as a garden and of God as the Gardener. You need to start with good, rich soil to grow healthy fruit. If you’ve accepted God’s love by receiving Jesus as your Savior, then love is the soil and the first fruit that should show up in your life. Do you love each person God brings across your path? Or, do you only act loving toward certain people? We can choose to love because God first chose to love us!

This is an excellent time to start memorizing the fruit of the Spirit if you haven’t yet. For this week, just memorize, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love….” Then as we explore each new word, add it on. Did some members of your family accept the challenge to memorize all nine character traits? If so, give them the opportunity to say them now.