In Pursuit of Fruit: Love from Above
Question: Do you know how the Fruit of the Spirit improves mental health? Some of you are trying to remember what that list of fruit actually is while others are wondering what I am talking about! That’s OK. This next series will focus on the Fruit of the Spirit and how these character traits transform our lives, improve our relationships and provide us with mental and emotional freedom. So grab your coffee, or some fruit and let’s unwind the mind…
When it comes to caring for your mental health and well-being, something that you may not have considered until now is how producing (or not producing) the fruit of the Spirit can affect your state of mind.
If you’re unfamiliar with the fruit of the Spirit or need a refresher, look at Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
These are all character traits that the Holy Spirit produces in Christians through abiding in Christ and obedience. However, they also have a massive effect on our mental health. All you have to do to know this is to actually read through them and think about how these things affect you in your daily life.
Would your mental health be better if you had more patience? How about if you had more joy or self-control? What if you had more love in your life? We’ll be taking a look at each of the fruit of the Spirit in turn and seeing how each of them can affect your mental health, starting with the all-powerful love.
WHAT IS LOVE?
When you read the word “love”, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a person in your life; a spouse, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend. Or maybe it’s the kind of love that you only see in the movies – that perfect, death-defying love that seems pretty rare in the real world.
Regardless of what comes to mind, what we’re interested in today is what kind of love the Bible promotes. When you look at what true love is like in the Bible, you’ll find that biblical love is primarily both selfless and sacrificial.
To quote the all-too-familiar verses that have been read at so many Christian wedding ceremonies: “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).
When one loves, one forgets self and loves unconditionally. By no means is this easy to do, but it is certainly worth it. It is one of the very things that can improve your mental health over a long period of time. To show you how, here are 5 different ways that love can improve your mental health.
- Love Brings a Sense of Belonging
The first way that love can improve your mental health is by providing you with a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of isolation. When you truly love people around you and are loved by those people, you feel like you belong and like you aren’t alone in the world. If there is anything that the pandemic taught us, it was that isolation is not a good thing for our mental health. We need community and love from a community so that we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.
As Romans 12:5 says, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Biblically, Christians are all one with one another by being part of the body of Christ, and as we love one another, we feel like we belong and we never have to feel isolated or alone. This does wonders for our mental health.
- Acts of Love Bring Gratitude
One of the best things for your mental health is to cultivate a sense of gratitude and contentment in your life. If you are thankful for what you have and grateful for where you are, it becomes more difficult to feel anxious or depressed about the situation that you are in.
Participating in acts of love toward others shows them and yourself that you care about them and that you do love them. It also allows you to feel and show contentment with the people and things that are in your life.
As Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13, we can always find true contentment in Christ because He is all that we need. When we step out and participate in acts of love, we foster that sense of contentment in our lives and show it to others.
- Love Fosters Forgiveness and Healing
One of the most significant ways that love contributes to your mental well-being is by fostering forgiveness and healing from emotional traumas and wounds. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
When you cultivate love in your life, even towards those who have wronged you or done you harm, you will find it much easier to forgive them and heal from that emotional trauma.
- Love Manages Stress and Anxiety
It’s no secret that stress and anxiety can be massive contributors to a decrease in mental health and well-being. However, cultivating love in your life, both giving love and receiving love, can break down strongholds of stress and anxiety.
In Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus tells us to not be anxious about anything but to trust Him in all things. This is much easier said than done! But when we truly love God and place our trust in Him, we will find that our stress and anxiety will decrease because we know that God will work all things for our ultimate good.
- Love Brings About Purpose and Fulfillment
It is not an exaggeration to say that we were made by God to love. When asked what the two most important commandments are, Jesus genuinely said that the two most important things that you can do are to love God and love others.
So then, it is also no exaggeration to say that when you are functioning in love in those two areas, you will find a sense of purpose and fulfillment that you can find nowhere else. If our purpose is to love, then loving must be how we fulfill our purpose.
THE POWER OF LOVE
Clearly, the power that love can have on your mental health cannot be overstated. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and love those around you. It will foster a sense of belonging, gratitude, healing, relief, and fulfillment that can be found nowhere else. There is no greater thing than love, even when it comes to your mental health. Just remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Let all that you do be done in love.”
“Dogs are how people would be if the important stuff is all that mattered to us.” – Ashly Lorenzana, author
Dogs already love this way, tell me something I don’t know #dogsnailedit #babyleongotthis #duh
Exciting news! The photography for our newsletters will be coming from Irita Reagan; an amazing photographer in TN and my role-model in this world. Please see her work here & you can also follow her on instagram!
Much love, Luz.