But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-24)
What is love? The ancient Greeks have many different words for love: it could be erotic, or brotherly. There’s love within a family, and love based on having a high regard for someone. Love at times is yearning, at other times it flows from compassion. You can love a spouse and love dry roasted peanuts. “Love” carries a whole range of meanings, and it is dangerous to get them mixed up!
In the passage, Paul is using the word: “agapē”. The standard dictionary of New Testament Greek defines it as “the quality of warm regard for and interest in another”. It suggests you translate it with words such as “esteem, affection, regard, love”. It is a kind of love which is not based on self interest, but on a warmth for another. It is not the sort of love that leads to marriage, but rather an affectionate esteem for another person. It’s not limited to intimate relationships, and only very rarely did the Greeks of the day use it to describe anything sexual.
Most significantly, it is the word used to describe God’s love for humans. As we experience that love, and put down our roots into it, then it becomes a fruit of the Spirit in our own life. We become more Christlike.
So what might this fruit of the Spirit look like in practice? It is have a warm affection for others, and a desire to see the best in them. It is to be forgiving, and to show an interest in them. It is patient and enduring. It is rich and settled.
It is reflecting to others the love of God which shines upon you.