I recently led a small group meeting with several other families. We agreed on a format where the youth pastor would teach the kids a similar topic as the adults. The focus of our time was discussing the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)
The thought behind our group would be focus each week on a fruit of the spirit. For the first week we talked about love. As I prepared for the time, I turned to my study Bibles to do a verse pool to identify other sections of Scripture that were relevant and applicable to our discussion topic. Here is what I found from my looking through the Scriptures.
5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:5-7 New International Version (NIV)
I interpreted this passage to show the difference between gifts of the Holy Spirit and fruit of the Holy Spirit. The former are specific talents and skills that individual members of the body of Christ may have to help enrich the kingdom of God. The latter speaks to the identity we all have as believers regardless of our talent and skill. It is our calling card as Christians. I also found it interesting that love was the first fruit of the spirit. This to me, showed its importance in the overall kingdom of God.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40 New International Version (NIV)
This passage underscores the point previously discovered. Love is the first fruit, and according to Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. If we are as believers able to love God with all that we are and love our neighbor as ourselves we are able to in body the true representation of Christ. This is a tremendous challenge as our sinful nature and bias often get in our way.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 New International Version (NIV)
This passage speaks to how critical it is to have love as the foundation for all that is done in the name of Jesus. Many people can do wonderful things in the world. They can mount powerful social justice campaigns, feed the homeless and bring about cultural change. However, if love is not at the foundation than it is for nothing. This is an important reminder to both parents, husbands, wives and members of society. Love must be at the center.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 New International Version (NIV)
This is another definition of love from Scripture. It shows us as the reader, a clear depiction of what true Biblical love is. We are to love in such a way that we could sacrifice ourselves. This is a powerful visual for all who read it. While we were far from him, he paid the price to bring us close.
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 New International Version (NIV)
In my reading of this verse, I feel the Lord calling us to know the fullness of this powerful love. It is an impossible task to be sure, but it is the most worthy pursuit. God is calling us to know His love at every turn. This is inspiring for believers of all ages as we learn how deep his love for us truly is.
There are countless more verses I could find on the topic of love. These are just a few that I chose to pull out for this particular small group. Using a verse pool strategy allows the reader to get lost in the vastness of Scripture and uncover the truth across the different books of the Bible. I found using my study Bibles to be very rewarding, even though I have read these verses numerous times. I hope that this quick example of a verse pool in action encourages you to implement the same strategies in your life whether you are trying to get more out of your personal study, a family devotional, a small group or a sermon.