GALATIANS 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

In our zeal to “live right” we can forget, as did the Galatians, the foundation of our faith is centered only on Jesus - what He has done and our relationship with Him.

One of the best things my pastor has preached over the years is that believing in Jesus Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior is about a relationship not a religion. The relationship is born of love … His love for us … and our response.

Let’s look at a concrete example of what relationship can do. I love trees  - they beautifully illustrate so many truths. Trees need soil, water and sun. The fruit they produce is affected by the relationship they have to these essentials … continuously. One day of sun, one torrential rain – these don’t produce good fruit. A steady receiving of the essentials of tree life … then the very best fruit is produced to bless the earth.

Just as a tree cannot produce fruit on its on or by reading a set of rules or by someone standing in front of it telling it the proper way to grow … neither can I produce the fruit of love in my life on my own.

I need the essentials. I need a Savior. For a fruit as supreme as love I’m going to need a relationship … continuously. I need to experience real love.

Even if you have read I CORINTHIANS 13: 4- 7 a hundred times, please stop and read it again. Soak in what love is – not an emotion but real actions. Love does things differently. Love never fails.

My son recently reminded me of this story. When he was a teen and visiting another church for a program, he entered the sanctuary with his cap on and was met by a man from the congregation who told him in a curt tone to remove his cap.

“What if I had been a searching teen who didn’t know Jesus?” Good question.

The voice of religion says, “Remove your cap.” It is correct. It is proper to show respect in the house of God. That is religion.

The voice of love says, “Welcome.” That is relationship.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)