It has occurred to me that scripture (in particular the New Testament) often brings two ideas to bear. The first is that God is love (1 John 4:8 He that does not love, does not know God; for God is love.). The second is that if we love Him we will guard the place His commands have in our life as first (John 14:15). When we do this we abide, or live and keep on living, in Him. So if the command is that, "God is love" and we are posturing our whole selves to abide in Him then this idea from Philippians could be looked at as a check-up sheet, progress report, or clear list of things to pursue.
What if we were to read Philippians 4:8-9’s statement as giant self-examining question?
Finally, INSERT YOUR NAME HERE, are you thinking on whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report? Is INSERT YOUR NAME HERE thought life intentionally packed with and deeply pondering virtuous and praiseworthy things? So the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV)
This line of thinking brings a new emphasis to 2 Corinthians 10:5 and the necessity of casting down every thought to bring it unto the submission, standard of acceptability and Lordship of Christ Jesus. Ephesians 4:23 instructs us: “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” We must discipline our pursuit of Christ to follow the instruction of Scripture because we love Him. If we do these things can we help but be full of His nature? Can we help but be full of positivity and joy? Can we help but walk in the fulness of Holy Spirit? These are the fruits of discipleship.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
How about "The Fruit of the Spirit" list; chief among them is “love.” Have you ever noticed that as you proceed through the list and compare similarities to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 how many of these items seems to be more specific characteristics of the Galatians list. It is almost a suggestion of the idea that The fruit items listed in Galatians proceed out of the Love that Holy Spirit gives us as we allow Him to cultivate our lives according to Kingdom parameters.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Now let’s do the same exercise with 1 Corinthians that we did earlier with Philippians 4...remember if His love lives in us, if He is Lord, then we are obligated to become life Him both because of His working in us and our surrender to His working. This time let’s separate your name where “love” appears. As we do this the mirror of Christ can be very convicting as searches for his reflection in us. Though His conviction can be brutally set against our flesh the beauty of it is that it is not without hope. Where do you fall short? I am certain that I need to grow in every one of these areas. However, this recognition should not lead to self-deprecating behavior or thoughts. It should not lead us into the shackles of despair and fleshly guilt. Rather it should cause us to turn towards the Holy Spirit’s burning fire of refinement. It should cause us to press into Jesus. Clearly He desires to pour these things out in us with abundant generosity that is measured according to His capacity not our own. What is more is that all of it is born out of His love!
He paints a picture of Love that is vast and rich and leaves us open eyed at the impossibility of manifesting these things on our own. Discipleship is the in short, the discipline that causes us to fix our gaze fully on the love-the glory of Christ while being transformed by its unfolding in us and the victory it brings over our flesh and its sin nature.